31 Mar

Report from the GLA Water Level Committee

Education, News No Response

Soil erosion can occur from high water and a lack of natural shoreline vegetation. 


The Glen Lake Association will not be surprised to receive shore erosion comments when families return from their winter hiatus. Although the dam has been set at its lowest level for more than 180 days allowing for the highest possible dam flow, a lower winter evaporation rate and unusually high inputs of rain and snowmelt have caused the lake elevation to remain well above historical winter heights. (Check out the latest issue of the GLA Newsletter for additional lake level stats) These higher levels are welcomed by most in summer, but can contribute to winter and spring erosion on shorelines lacking a natural vegetation buffer.

The cycle of ice formation and break up on the lake can further complicate the potential for significant erosion. This winter’s ice was marked by repeated freeze-thaw cycles delaying formation of and persistence of a solid mass. As ice forms or breaks up, winds can push it against the shore, rolling up sand and peeling back lawns, called ice jacking and scouring beach away from locations unprotected by deeper rooted natural vegetation. Prevailing westerly winds paired with multiple higher wind events this winter amplified this effect, especially on the east shore of Big Glen.

Despite the best efforts of the Water Level Committee volunteers who regulate the dam flow, the surprising amount of rain and snow over the past 6 months along with yo-yoing temperatures reduced our ability to mitigate winter beach erosion. While we can’t control mother nature, there are things each of us can do individually to make our shores more resilient and resistant to erosion.

At left: Use of native shrubs, trees, grasses and ground cover helps protect your shoreline from erosion.

If you experienced erosion this winter, we want to hear from you! Help us identify which areas have
been most effected and let us offer resources for helping you protect your shore in the future. Now is the perfect time make changes to your shore that can better protect your property, reduce maintenance costs, and improve lake health and your enjoyment.

For the Water Level Committee
Bill Meserve
231 735 6085

For additional information, watch this video, part 2 of “The Shoreline Zone” from the new Michigan Shoreland Stewardship video series.

Check out additional information on good practices and landscaping guidelines here.

23 Mar

Tucker Lake – Part 1: Satellite Water Bodies in Our Watershed

Education, News No Response

There are three other, lesser known and often overlooked bodies of water in our watershed. Let’s take a look at the first. Tucker Lake is about 15 acres wide and 15 feet deep, and is completely within the National Park’s boundaries. There are no riparians on this lake. It has one boat ramp that is managed by the National Park Service and has one outlet, namely, Tucker Creek. One nice aspect of this lake is that if you are on the lake in a canoe, row boat, or kayak, there is a commanding view of one of our most prominent glacial moraines—Miller Hill.

Historically, the land closest to the lake was used as a township dump and many residents in the early decades of the 1900s would take their trash to the lake. The dump has since been cleaned up by community members, including students from the Leelanau School. The National Park Service has monitored the site for hazardous waste.

The lake is considered eutrophic—rich in nutrients that support a dense plant population—and is in the advanced stages of “aging.” Some day in the next 200 years or so, it will cease to exist and gradually will turn into a swamp as it fills in from the bottom towards the surface.  

The bottom of the lake is soft, brown, and full of organic material. Most of the surface of the lake is covered with lily pads in the summer, but in the spring and fall it is open water and plays host to migrating buffleheads, goldeneyes, mallards and wood ducks. It also is host to the red shouldered hawk, which can be heard screaming during courtship in the spring with the sound echoing off Miller Hill. They sound like bluejays on steroids!

The lake is surrounded by a natural shoreline and intact wetlands. Beaver, muskrats, raccoons and deer can be seen browsing on the vegetation on just about every visit year-round. The color of the water is the result of tannins from the decomposing shoreline plants. Fishing in the lake will produce bluegill, perch, rock
bass, northern pike, large-mouth bass, bullhead and pumpkinseeds. Spring is a fun time to visit to hear the male American toads collectively making loud trills as they call out to their mates.

During winter, the ice is rarely, if ever, safe for human travel. The decomposition of the aquatic plants and springs make the ice dangerous for walking on the thin ice – even during a cold winter. It is a very nice lake to visit from a nature observation perspective and it is picturesque in all seasons.

02 Mar

Easy Clean Water Tips

Education, News No Response

Making sure the Glen Lake area remains beautiful in the future requires careful stewardship to maintain this extraordinary natural resource.

Live in the Glen lake/ Crystal River Watershed? Every mailbox in our 4 township area received a copy of “13 Tips for Clean Water” in late January. Missed yours or would you like additional copies?  Contact Guardian Ambassador, Tricia Denton at

TIP: Use caution when putting anything down your household drain that can negatively impact water quality or degrade your septic system.




03 Feb

Update: Crystal Harbor Marina Plans

Education, News No Response

The recently proposed development at the Crystal Harbor Marina property located at 5664 S. Dunns Farm Road in Glen Arbor, sparked immediate and great concern over the possibility of multiple housing units, boat slips and parking on the eight-acre parcel. However, no action was taken to submit a formal proposal for development of the property to the Glen Arbor Township
Planning Commission and the purchase option on the parcel has expired.

The commercially zoned Crystal Harbor Marina property remains available for purchase. What happens next regarding development of the property remains uncertain.

“At some point the property currently available from longtime owner, Don Lewis, will be sold. However, we don’t know to whom, for what purpose or when that might occur,” said Rob Karner, Glen Lake Association Watershed Biologist. “What we do know is that we will continue to be ever mindful of any development proposals and their potential impact on water quality as it relates to the GLA and its mission of protecting and preserving our waters.”

The Glen Lake Association Board of Directors recently voted in favor of conducting a baseline
water quality study of the Crystal Harbor Marina property in order to obtain current water
statistics that could help guide future uses of the land and waterfront.

27 Jan

Winter Water Quality Symposium Well-Attended

Education, News No Response

A symposium on water quality was held at Northwestern Michigan College’s (NMC) Hagerty Center on February 17.

The Great Lakes Water Studies Institute and Freshwater Solutions hosted the free event with local lake associations, including GLA, who was represented by Rob Karner, GLA watershed biologist. Three other scientists also brought their expertise to the symposium. Glen Lake was one of the lakes featured in the discussion, sharing results on Swimmer’s Itch and enteric bacteria studies, two topics of great interest for regional and state lake associations.

Due to the great interest in this symposium, over 140 people attended the morning long session.  Click here to view the recorded symposium on Facebook.

20 Jan

Besio Family Underwrites Discovery Boat Program

Education, News No Response

The Glen Lake Association is grateful and humbled by a recent donation by the Besio Family Foundation – one of the most significant donations to date given to the award-winning lake association.

The Besio family’s gift will underwrite the popular Discovery Boat program, a vital tool and key component in educating the community about protection and preservation of the Glen Lake/ Crystal River Watershed.

Rob Karner, GLA’s respected watershed biologist and founder of the Discovery Boat, makes the two-hour cruises fun and interesting, with each pontoon ride tailored to the participants’ interests. Topics range from discovering how the glaciers formed the lake, river and surrounding hillsides, wetlands, and streams – to the chemistry of the water and biology of plants and animals.

“GLA has done so much to protect and enhance Glen Lake with its various programs,” explain Sue and Greg Besio on their reason for investing in the program. “The Discovery Boat helps everyone learn more about our beautiful lake and how we can all contribute to preserving its unique ecosystem and watershed.  Each person who takes the Discovery Boat tour, and learns how special Glen Lake is, becomes another advocate.”

Karner says their backing makes a strong statement and ensures the program’s continuation.

“When I first heard about the Besio family gift to help underwrite the cost of the Discovery Boat program, I was overwhelmed with gratitude. I felt like the program has been validated and will have a bright future.”

Sue and Greg Besio and their two sons have been coming to Glen Lake for over 25 years from the Chicago area. Now they welcome the third generation to their favorite spot. Calling her clan “a big sailing family,” Sue served as the Glen Lake Yacht Club Commodore and was on the board for 10 years. You can see them enjoying the water on their 19-foot cat boat with its distinctive mainsail.

“GLA’s educational programs help create a multi-generational advocacy dedicated to preserving the special character of Glen Lake and we are proud to support these efforts,” observe the Besios.


Discovery Boat cruises are held twice daily on designated Fridays in July and August and are incredibly popular with spots filling quickly. Reservations can be made through the GLA website, with signups for summer 2020 beginning in April.


For information on other underwriting opportunities to continue the important work of the GLA, contact development chair, Lori Lyman, at 231-334-7645 or


16 Jan

High Lake Levels Recorded in Glen Lake

Education, News No Response

A wetter than usual 2019 has resulted in higher than normal lake levels in Glen Lake.

According to GLA water level committee chair, Bill Meserve, the lake is almost four inches higher than the Circuit Court ordered level.

The issue comes down too much rain and snow, says Meserve, with evaporation being a big factor and underground flow.

“We are doing what we can,” he says. “For three months the dam has been wide open and there’s nothing more we can do. Things won’t get back to target until spring.”

That is often when big chunks of ice blow up on the shores of west Little Glen and the on the east shore of Big Glen causing shoreline erosion. More precipitation was recorded by the Northwest Michigan Horticultural Research Station, with 38 inches of rain in the past 12 months.

According to Meserve, Glen Lake levels have been running high since mid-September. GLA volunteer dam committee members hope the levels subside by spring.

Officials say Crystal River levels are average for this time of year.

06 Jan

Celebrating GLA’s 75th Anniversary in 2020

Education, News No Response

Imagine. For the past seven decades, concerned citizens, property owners and civic-minded people have been true guardians of Glen Lake, committed to the purpose and values of the Glen Lake Association: preserving and protecting the water.

Although historians aren’t exactly sure how many people may have been involved with the GLA, the number is substantial. It all started back in 1945, when a concerned group developed the founding tenants. That same commitment to water protection continues today, 75 years later.

  • To mark this achievement, the GLA board of directors invite GLA members, watershed residents and the business community to come together. A special 75th Planning Committee has announced a recognition event – the GLA 75th Celebration – on Thursday, August 6, 2020. Watch for coming details.

  • Another highlight for the anniversary year are fun facts, historical stories and musings that will be published on the GLA website and in every eBlast edition for the next 12 months. Topics will cover Glen Lake’s 1960’s sandstorm, the only known ship sinking in the lake, and the use of a fire-fighting shed along the shores.
  • Be sure to watch for special events, volunteer opportunities, and a chance to share your Glen Lake memories in stories and photos on the GLA website.

Join family, friends and neighbors … It’s time to Celebrate GLA!


Read more about the 75th anniversary here.


09 Dec

Watershed Protection Overlay District Informational Meeting is Dec. 12

Education, News No Response

 An open meeting of the Glen Lake/ Crystal River Watershed Protection Project Task Force has been set and the public is welcome and encouraged to attend.

GLA is sponsoring the meeting, bringing together the four townships within the watershed–Cleveland, Glen Arbor, Kasson and Empire–to learn about and discuss the opportunity to strengthen the protection of surface and groundwater within the boundaries of the Glen Lake/ Crystal River Watershed. 

The prime focus of the meeting will be to digest how a zoning “Overlay District” plan, with a menu of several protective provisions might play out in a uniform way in all four of the townships that are inside our watershed.

The main speaker will be Tony Groves, consultant, from Progressive AE, who has helped us pioneer this proposed project. 

You won’t want to miss this important event, please email the GLA and tell us if you can participate.



The agenda for the meeting will be as follows:

  1. Welcome and Introductions – Denny Becker, Former President of GLA
  2. Presentation by Tony Groves, Consultant, Progressive AE
  3. Presentation by Roberta Dow, retired MSU educator
  4. Open Discussion – Facilitated by Rob Karner, Watershed Biologist
  5. Closing Remarks – Denny Becker

We hope to see you there!!

Thursday, Dec 12,  7:30 – 9 pm

Empire Township Hall, 1088 W Front St

Empire MI


21 Nov

Strategic Planning: GLA Focuses on the Future

Education, News No Response

Over the past six months, members of the GLA Board of Directors have been developing a new roadmap for the future of the organization. A five-year Strategic Plan (2020 – 2025) has been created with input from the board, staff, key stakeholders and 156 Association members who recently completed a membership survey. The extensive process is meant to help guide GLA in its direction and initiatives in four main areas;

             * Watershed Protection            * Education and Communication

             * Quality of Life                          * Organizational Development

The Association’s primary focus remains the protection of the watershed’s natural resources, ground and surface waters, plus the updating and implementation of the Glen Lake/ Crystal River Watershed Plan.

With a strong cadre of volunteers, GLA will continue to be involved in leadership, education and collaborative efforts. Topics include:

  1. Continuing to research Swimmer’s Itch
  2. Reducing nutrient loading of the watershed
  3. Eliminating pollutant sources including storm water and failed septic systems
  4. Supporting ordinances to inspect septic tanks and wells upon ownership transfer
  5. Detecting and controlling invasive species
  6. Managing the water level control structure on the Crystal River

In subsequent eBlasts and communiqués, GLA will share additional information about the above areas of focus and initiatives,

As we strive to be the recognized leader in evidence-based strategies for protecting the Glen Lake watershed while advancing environmental education, sustainable policies and quality of life.

What can everyone do?

* Join in protecting our natural resources and advocating for same – be proud of the theme: “It’s all about the Water!”

* Become a member.

* Learn about the Association through newsletters and annual plans, including implementation of this Strategic Plan and Annual Work Plans.

* Become a Glen Lake Guardian and support stewardship education.

* Volunteer – let us know how you’d like to become involved.

* As members, learn about our Board and Committees and consider participation.

* Give us your thoughts and ask questions – about this Strategic Plan or other matters of concern or interest.

* Donate to help us attain our annual plans and long term goals.

* Build your legacy to make a difference to protect and preserve this one-of-kind place.

Read the GLA Strategic Plan and survey results in their entirety here.