The year 2020 will be etched in history for many reasons. But despite the pandemic, chaotic politics and a world turned upside down, there have been bright spots. Among them are two neighboring Leelanau County entities that share like missions and vision: the Glen Lake Association and Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (SBDNL).
GLA marked 75 years since its founding in 1945 by forward-thinking area residents, followed by the SBDNL’s establishment in 1970 and its celebration of 50 years as part of the National Park Service.
Not surprisingly, both the national park and GLA have experienced challenges over the years as they address the paramount task of preserving and protecting the fragile natural wonders they oversee. Both organizations have adhered to their goals of environmental stewardship. The fact that 40 percent of the Glen Lake/ Crystal River is adjacent to or within the park’s boundaries is another protection, and most acknowledge how different this region would be without the park’s existence.
SBDNL has attracted over 50 million visitors since its founding. The National Park Service is the prime caretaker of the dunes, forests and waters it seeks to preserve while inviting the public to enjoy and not destroy. On the other hand, GLA espouses sound stewardship of their watershed, educating their members, visitors and community, while imparting the fragility of this natural beauty we’re privileged to share.
In the words of retired park ranger, historian and author, Tom VanZoeren, it’s time to prepare for the challenges that lie ahead:
“Abraham Lincoln helped lay the groundwork for the world’s first National Parks—an American invention, said by some to be our country’s best idea.”
Many decades later, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore was born of terrible struggle and difficulty. Those who sacrificed their homes deserve our gratitude. Creation of the park—Michigan’s crown jewel—has now paid off many times over.
Glen Lake rests splendidly at the center of our park. For those of us lucky enough to live or visit here, surely it is incumbent that we pass this place on to our grandchildren and their grandchildren, as pure as the place we’ve been privileged to enjoy.
The Glen Lake Association has assumed the mission of caring for this deep blue body of fresh water. We’ve learned much about how to do so in recent decades. In observance of a half-century of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, let’s resolve to redouble our efforts—and leave our children the cleanest, purest, noblest lake and park that we can.
Happy Anniversary to our partner—SBDNL—and best wishes for the next 50 years!
Gaining support for a plan for the future is not easy, especially when the need isn’t apparent.
The Glen Lake/Crystal River Watershed is a case in point.
A casual look around our hills and shorelines suggests that “all is well.”It begs the question: why do we need to plan ahead? Observations around the watershed include: “Why, our water quality is as good as ever. It hasn’t changed much over the last several decades.”
In fact, water quality degradation is often slow and incremental over time. Increased recreational use of our lakes and river, combined with the aging process accelerated by many septic systems (even when they are functioning well), can cause irreversible aging.Our renowned vibrant blue lakes may even turn green. Once they do that, it’s impossible to roll back the clock.
One protection tool that can be used to slow their aging process is to add supplemental zoning focused on protecting our ground and surface water. This supplement zoning is often called an Overlay District.
A three-year, science based process involving the work of multiple community members has resulted in an opportunity to step up efforts to guide future development. As responsible watershed residents, it’s well worth our time to inspect the proposed Glen Lake/Crystal River Watershed Overlay District.
Remember, what we have today is for tomorrow, but only if we plan ahead.