Good Harbor Bay Watershed Protection Plan

The Leelanau Conservancy, in partnership with both the Lime Lake and Little Traverse Lake Associations along with Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and the Leelanau Conservation District have developed a draft Good Harbor Bay Watershed Protection Plan. Planning started in Summer 2011and the draft plan has been submitted for review to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.  The DEQ review of the draft report required minor changes which have been incorporated and it has been resubmitted; we await final approval.

Good Harbor Bay’s watershed includes Lime Lake (Kasson and Cleveland townships); Little Traverse Lake (Cleveland Township); School, Bass and Shell Lakes (Cleveland and Glen Arbor townships); and area that flows directly into Good Harbor Bay in Glen Arbor, Cleveland and Leland township (see map).

These plans are a guide for watershed residents to help maintain and improve the health of their watershed. They are written to meet both the state (Department of Environmental Quality or DEQ) and Federal (Environmental Protection Agency) criteria in order to be eligible for various grants and funding resources related to water quality and watershed protection.

The Glen Lake Watershed, the Lake Leelanau Watershed and the West Grand Traverse Bay Watershed have approved watershed plans. The Conservancy has been a successful partner with these plans by protecting important upland recharge areas, wetlands and lake/stream frontage using Clean Michigan Initiative (CMI) funding.  These watershed plans outline best management practices to help maintain watershed health and have been used as a guide for lake associations and residents. The Glen Lake Association has been successful in obtaining CMI funds for their water quality monitoring program.

Additional information on the watershed and land protection efforts to date can be found on the Leelanau Conservancy website.    

Want clean water?

In the meantime, what can we do to keep our water / watershed clean?  Some guidance from The Watershed Center Grand Traverse Bay.  

“Any development along a lake or stream can degrade water quality,” said Sarah U’Ren, program director for The Watershed Center Grand Traverse Bay. “When there’s increased runoff (from roads, driveways and rooftops) it picks up all the pollutants along the way and they go into the watershed.”

Fertilizing a lawn up to the water’s edge can degrade water quality, U’Ren said.

“This increases algae blooms which are not only a nuisance, but when they start to decay, decrease the dissolved oxygen in the water which is harmful to fish,” U’Ren said.

Water quality can also be negatively impacted by septic systems and the introduction of invasive species. The single biggest action a property owner can take to improve the quality of water in the watershed is to plant a vegetative buffer along the stream or shoreline.

“When plants take up the running water, they also absorb the toxins before they go into the water,” U’Ren said.

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