Clean Water: There is always something each one of us can do to protect this precious natural resource. Come learn more about threats facing our water at a community conversation on November 28.
Held at the Glen Lake Community Library beginning at 7 p.m., learn practical applications for doing your part. Glen Lake Guardian Ambassador Tricia Denton will be available to answer questions, share tools and help you develop a customized plan.
Have questions or want to do more? Feel free to contact Glen Lake Guardian Ambassador, Tricia Denton, with your questions.
The photo here shows a seawall on Glen Lake that has been replaced by a natural shoreline.
Do you know how many seawalls are on the Glen Lake shoreline? A seawall is defined as an engineered concrete, steel, or wood structure at the water’s edge that typically is designed to curb shoreline erosion where it is installed. Interestingly, the August 2017 shoreline survey on Glen Lake indicates there are currently 18 seawalls, each about 100 foot long representing approximately 1800 feet of shoreline. Some riparians use “rip rap” or stones to“harden”their shorelines as a preferred line of protection from erosion. The use of rip rapis not considered a seawall. Rip rap when used in conjunction with other erosion prevention measures such as core log installation and native plantings can actually absorb wave energy, prevent shoreline erosion and create wildlife habitat.
The entire shoreline of Glen Lake is approximately 17 miles long. Simple math tells us our shoreline is mostly seawall-free. It is widely accepted by watershed protectors that this current ratio is a good thing. Ideally, the entire shoreline of Glen Lake should be seawall-free. Seawalls on inland lakes like Glen Lake tend to be problematic for water quality due to the fact they removevitalwildlife habitat, do not absorb and filter nutrient runoff from landand deflectand even intensifywave energy onto nearby shorelines causing increased erosion and sedimentation of the water. Thereby invitingmore seawalls, which would create the “need” for more seawalls, and so the story goes. In fact the MDNR does not identify any Michigan inland lake environment as an appropriate or necessary application of Seawall type erosion prevention measures. A much better use of seawalls can be found on the Great Lakes wheresignificantly higherwave energyoccurs.
Installation of a seawall is expensive. However, there is a win-win option to install something far less expensive and much more lake-friendly. To learn more about removing a seawall or to consider other options for shoreline protection click on this link.
On October 17th, GLA Watershed Biologist Rob Karner, together with Dennis Wiand, Owner of Zero Gravity, LLC, presented a Leelanau Clean Water program to a group of over 30 key lake stewards from lakes around the region. Thanks to the Glen Lake Association’s willingness to be the first to use drone technology for conducting shoreline surveys, many other lakes have either followed the GLA’s lead, or are giving serious consideration to using drones as a water quality data gathering tool.
The key benefit of having a shoreline videotaped via drone is to establish a benchmark for the current condition of the water’s edge. Future drone surveys will be created and compared to the original survey thereby setting up the perfect comparison opportunity.
The kind of water quality data gathered is still evolving and future updates on the results of Glen Lake’s first survey, done in August of 2017, will come in subsequent communications. Examples of water quality data that are being quantified and placed on the map include: Green belts; drainage pipes; sea walls; rip rap; erosion; fish habitat; lake-water irrigation; road ends; inlets, and invasive plants.
While the use of the drone is proving to be a valuable, water quality-monitoring tool, GLA will continue to monitor the water chemistry using the hydrolab, collect and analyze plankton every month in the spring, summer and fall, and participate in the volunteer-based statewide water quality monitoring program.
Can you self-monitor your own shoreline?
One way you can monitor the water quality on your shoreline is to place two or three clean, volleyball-sized rocks at the water’s edge and wait to see if they become covered with green algae. If they are covered within a few weeks during the growing season with a healthy crop of algae, then you may have a nutrient loading problem that will need investigation.
Back in the mid 1970s, the MDNR stocked the Crystal River with salmon to curb the overpopulation of alewife that were dying and piling up on the shores of Sleeping Bear Bay each year. After stocking the river mouth, the salmon left their home stream and went out to feast on the alewife and after about two years, they migrated back to the Crystal River to spawn and die. They were huge and they filled the Crystal River by the thousands. Fast forward to today and the salmon continue to return to the Crystal River, mostly because of natural reproduction (as opposed to stocking). They are not quite as big and the number of salmon are only in the low hundreds versus in the thousands.
The mystery of how they go and live in Lake Michigan and then find their home stream is truly wondrous. Perhaps they “smell” the water at the mouth and somehow sense the signature Glen Lake water that empties into the bay. Once they swim up the Crystal River another amazing thing happens. The majority of the salmon jump over the dam and enter into the Fisher Lakes. They rest there for a week or so and swim up the Fisher Canal and into Big Glen. From there, they swim along the east shore of Big Glen until they reach the mouth of Hatlem Creek. Amazingly, they swim up the creek until they reach Hatlem Pond Dam. Some of the strongest will actually get past the dam (I have no idea how this happens) and swim up into the headwaters of Hatlem Creek only to be found in water about six inches deep. All the salmon die after spawning. They gradually get decomposed by fungi – even while alive, and are ironically transformed into unwanted pollution in our lakes and streams.
As amazing as it is to witness this natural wonder, the dark side of this event is that hundreds of salmon will die, decompose, and add nutrients to the water that are undesirable. In their natural habitat, bears will eat many of them as they are removed from the stream. I am not sure our black bears do this but it would help the biological pollution by removing the fish before they die.
So if you can, get out in a canoe or kayak and start at the headwaters of the Crystal River and enjoy watching these amazing fish. I have been watching them for over 40 years and always marvel at this natural phenomenon.
After a spectacular summer and warm days filled with family, friends and fun, share one of your favorite Glen Lake/ Crystal River Watershed photos and we’ll feature them here throughout the winter months.
Include a photo caption, identifying anyone in the photo you’d like mentioned. Include the date and location, and please make sure your photos are 300 dpi, no larger than 100 kb, and in jpeg format. Content should be appropriate for a general audience.
GLA reserves the right to screen and choose photos.
We’re looking forward to seeing your images of summer fun…and just might need a reminder that warmth will indeed return when the white stuff is falling!