Tag: Traverse City

Court upholds permit denial for private boat basin and channel on Long Lake

Citizen action and public engagement safeguards Michigan waters

Most everyone familiar with the beauty and majesty of Long Lake regard it as an exceptional example of the stunning natural features that are so abundant in Northwest Lower Michigan. The largest lake in Grand Traverse County and the headwaters of the Platte River, Long Lake harbors five exquisite islands that enhance every lakeshore view and vista.

Recently, the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) received an application for the construction of a boat storage basin that would significantly impair Long Lake’s ecology, shoreline, and wetlands. The proposed project would entail dredging 292 cubic yards of bottomland materials to create a private entrance channel 88 feet long and 33 feet wide.

The dredged channel would provide connecting access to the inland boat basin, requiring the excavation of more than 3,200 additional cubic yards of material landward of the ordinary high water mark. In addition, the proposed project would include a 40-foot-long by 5-foot-wide boardwalk, supported by helical piers, to be constructed across 200 feet of wetlands.

EGLE denied the permit based on those impacts, as well the determination that the dredging would disturb fish habitat and interfere with littoral currents. The permit applicant, the Carrie C. Barnes Trust, appealed, much to the consternation of neighboring lakefront property owners. EGLE’s administrative law judge (ALJ) affirmed the permit denial in every particular.

When the Barnes Trust appealed the ALJ’s decision to EGLE’s Environmental Permit Review Commission (EPRC), FLOW was asked to weigh in. After reviewing the extensive record, FLOW provided detailed comments on the facts and applicable law. The EPRC unanimously upheld the ALJ’s decision.

But the Carrie C. Barnes Trust wasn’t done. The trust filed yet another appeal to the 13th Circuit Court in Grand Traverse County.

The good news is that on Tuesday, April 9, Judge Charles M. Hamlyn affirmed EGLE’s permit denial.

As a result, a project that would have done significant, permanent harm to Long Lake has been averted. And the citizens who would have been most impacted successfully joined together in concerted action to maintain the health, character, and ecology of Long Lake. FLOW commends their efforts and is proud to have supported them.

Traverse City Participates in a Binational Exercise to Re-energize the Ecosystem Approach

Illustration: Mariah Alexander

By John Hartig, Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research, University of Windsor

Last month, 13 people representing diverse backgrounds met in a Traverse City workshop to brainstorm on how to make better use of something called “an ecosystem approach” in Great Lakes protection and restoration.

Part of an effort spanning the entire Great Lakes watershed, the workshop enabled participants to offer specific ideas on how the approach might relate to their efforts. But what is an ecosystem approach?

An ecosystem approach is a technique used to strengthen the linkages among science, policy and management for achieving and sustaining healthy ecosystems. It considers the well-being of all components of an ecosystem like the Great Lakes, including humans, rather than addressing problems and solutions as separate, isolated concerns.

Although this approach has a long history in the Great Lakes basin, there is growing interest in re-energizing it.

The Great Lakes community celebrated the 50th anniversaries of the Canada-U.S. Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement and the U.S. Clean Water Act in 2022. This landmark agreement and law, as well as many Great Lakes programs, are grounded in ecosystem-based management.

Over the past 50 years, we have witnessed many successes like reducing municipal and industrial point source pollution, slowing the introductions of invasive species, and delisting several Great Lakes pollution hotspots (known as Areas of Concern). However, many challenges remain, like addressing polluted runoff from farms and city streets and climate change.

There have been once-unimaginable advancements in science and technology that allow us to collect data on more variables, analyze much more data, create more sophisticated models, and more accurately forecast changes in these complex ecosystems. There have been fundamental changes in how people get their information and whom they trust to receive it from, coupled with seemingly increased sociopolitical polarization.

There has been an increased interest in understanding the social, cultural, and economic value of the Great Lakes and how their health is intimately tied to the lives and livelihoods of the people that live and visit here. There is more awareness that Great Lakes coasts also represent one most poignant examples of inequity in terms of access to and benefits from the Great Lakes, the ecosystem services they provide, and the environmental and conservation efforts taken to protect and restore them.

An ecosystem approach also considers all stakeholders together, rather than a handful of traditional constituencies. The goal of convening them is to identify measurable ecosystem goals, co-produce knowledge, co-innovate solutions, and practice adaptive management – assess, set priorities, and take action in an iterative fashion for continuous improvement – to achieve ecosystem goals.

Last year, the Healthy Headwaters Lab of the University of Windsor’s Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research and many partners convened an international conference on “The Ecosystem Approach in the 21st Century: Guiding Science and Management” at the University of Windsor. Working groups produced recommendations on how boundary organizations, actors, and teams can better support and accelerate more strategic, holistic, and partnership-driven efforts, and each prepared a paper that will be published in a special issue of the journal Aquatic Ecosystem Health & Management.

The next step in this project includes sharing information from the international ecosystem approach conference and getting stakeholder feedback on ways and means of advancing the ecosystem approach from 15 public forums or workshops throughout the Great Lakes Basin. On October 19, Michigan Sea Grant and FLOW convened one of these workshops in Traverse City. Traverse City was chosen because of its longstanding efforts to protect Grand Traverse Bay, Michigan Sea Grant’s support of the ecosystem approach, and FLOW’s leadership in systems thinking – another form of an ecosystem approach.

There was broad agreement among the 13 workshop participants that the ecosystem approach is important and relevant. Examples of Traverse City stakeholder input received include:

  • Priority should be placed on ecosystem approach education, including K-12 and post-secondary;
  • Ecosystem approach legislation should be considered at the state, provincial, and federal government levels;
  • Priority should be placed on getting local ecosystems in the hearts and minds of local people through storytelling, slogans (e.g., “Your Bay, Your Say” from Traverse City’s Waterfront Plan), art, and creating a sense of responsibility (e.g., First Nations believe that water and all life are sacred, show reverence toward the water, plants, animals and ecosystems, and have a stewardship ethic);
  • Greater emphasis needs to be placed on breaking down the “silo mentality” (i.e., unwillingness to share information or knowledge between or across different departments or organizations) and improve communication and foster cooperative learning;
  • Communities should develop and share broadly ecosystem approach success stories; and
  • The region should increase emphasis on proactive ecosystem approaches that anticipate and prevent problems, rather than responding to environmental crises.

       At the completion of this project in the spring of 2024, a summary report will be released that includes all findings and recommendations for broad distribution throughout the Great Lakes Basin. To learn more about this ecosystem approach project, visit https://www.healthyheadwaterslab.ca/projects/ecosystem-approach. If you have further questions, please contact our ecosystem approach team at ecosystemapproach@uwindsor.ca.


Dr. John Hartig is currently a Visiting Scholar at the Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research at the University of Wiindsor. For 14 years he served as Refuge Manager for the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge. John also serves on the Board of Directors of the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy.

EGLE’s denial of permit for Long Lake private private marina upheld

The Environmental Permit Review Commission (EPRC) recently made an important decision affecting inland lakes and the public trust doctrine in Michigan.

In a case involving the proposed construction of a boathouse, boat basin, and dredged entrance channel on the 3-acre lakefront property on Long Lake in Traverse City, the EPRC upheld the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ)’s decision upholding EGLE’s decision to deny the permit application based on credible evidence that the proposed dredging would cause adverse impacts to fisheries and recreational fishing aspects of the public trust, as well as fish and wildlife.

FLOW submitted public comments along with the leading citizen group, Lovers of Long Lake, in support of EGLE’s decision to deny the permit grounded in public trust violations and the applicant’s failure to present feasible and prudent alternatives. (Download our comments (PDF).)

High Great Lakes Water Levels Strain Wastewater Sewer Systems

By FLOW Board member Bob Otwell and Traverse City Commissioner Tim Werner

High Lake Michigan water levels are are forcing more water to flow into Traverse City’s wastewater treatment system. This forces city residents to pay more in energy, maintenance and other operational costs.

Wastewater collection systems are designed to transport wastewater (sewage) from homes and businesses to a wastewater treatment plant. Old sewers constructed with clay pipes often have cracks that allow clean groundwater to infiltrate into the system through gaps in both the private sewer leads and the public sewer mains. Some improper building construction also has allowed basement drains to be connected directly to the sewer system. In addition, stormwater inflow can happen during rain events through uncapped cleanouts and faulty manhole covers, and through improper roof-drain connections. See the figure below.

In Michigan, with our glacial soils and humid climate, which means more rainfall than evaporation, groundwater flows downhill to the nearest surface water body. Groundwater behaves similarly to streams that also drain into lakes and rivers. But groundwater is invisible, below the ground surface. If you dig a hole at the beach, the water you encounter is groundwater.

As Great Lakes levels rise, groundwater levels adjacent to the lake rise as well. Last year’s historic high Lake Michigan water levels have increased groundwater levels, and hence increased the volume of unwanted clean groundwater entering the wastewater sewer systems in lakefront communities.

The figure above shows the level of Lake Michigan over the past 100 years. Record high levels were set in 1986, only to be broken in 2020. Record-low levels occurred in the early 1960s and were matched in 2012/2013. The average level has been about 579 feet above sea level, and the difference between high and low lake levels is about 6 feet. 

To quantify how much high groundwater levels have impacted wastewater flows in Traverse City, the daily flow into the municipal wastewater plant was compared with Lake Michigan water levels over the past eight years. See the comparison below.

Lake Michigan levels below 579 feet showed relatively constant inflows into the plant (blue dots above), with an average of 2.3 million gallons a day (MGD). As Lake Michigan rose above an elevation of 579 in 2016, daily base flow into the plant increased (red dots). In the first 10 months of 2020, high Lake Michigan water levels created 450 million gallons of extra wastewater flow. This clean groundwater inflow all had to be treated at the wastewater plant.

Where did all of the water come from? Although the city has already completed some rehabilitation of old sewers, more work must be done. In addition, the Union Street dam provides a separation on the Boardman River between the river section affected by Lake Michigan, and the unaffected upper reaches of the river. Wastewater sewers in the near-bay neighborhoods (Slabtown, Downtown, Boardman, Oak Park and the neighborhoods at the base of Old Mission peninsula) are affected by high Lake Michigan levels and are where these excess flows originate. Sewers in neighborhoods farther south (Traverse Heights, Old Town, and much of Central neighborhood) are unaffected by Lake Michigan levels.


Different techniques are available to reduce the impact of infiltration and inflow on a community’s wastewater treatment system. Within the public system, old mainline sewers can be either replaced, or improved with trenchless rehabilitation that re-lines the sewer. Manholes can be inspected, and leaks can be sealed, and leaky covers replaced.

On private property, stormwater downpipes and basement drains need to be disconnected from the wastewater system. Broken laterals need to be replaced or re-lined.

To determine where the majority of inflow and infiltration originates, a proactive, systematic analysis of a community’s wastewater system needs to be completed. Different techniques are available to assess the problem.

  • TV inspection—Inspect the inside of sewers by using a small camera that travels down the length of a pipe to produce a visual representation of the pipe’s condition. The camera can also spot excessive lateral inflow.
  • Manhole inspections—These inspections can identify leaks from joints due to tree root intrusion, settling, or design issues. Manholes can contribute to significant inflow through leaky covers as well.
  • Smoke testing—This testing locates inflow and infiltration sources by identifying stormwater drain cross connections, broken pipes and laterals, and unsealed manholes.
  • Private property inspections—The inspection of private properties consists of visual assessments of the stormwater and wastewater networks within a property.

A planned course of action is important to conserve and protect our resources. Water—and the energy to move it—is too precious to waste.

Friday Favorite: A subtle gem in Traverse City

When it comes to beautiful places, the Grand Traverse region has an embarrassment of riches. I hope to live to 100, so I can visit them all. One I have come to know well may be one of the most subtle. It’s practically in my back yard beside the Munson medical complex on the west side of Traverse City.

photos by The Watershed Center

Completed in 2013, it’s part of a much larger restoration project coordinated by The Watershed Center Grand Traverse Bay. Directly across the street to the east from the Cowell Family Cancer Center, the Kids Creek Healing Garden has been fashioned from what was formerly asphalt and a strait-jacketed stretch of a tributary of Kids Creek. Built in cooperation with Munson Medical Center, it features native plantings, riffles and pools, a winding stream bed and the perpetual, reassuring sound of flowing water. A stretch of the Kids Creek trail meanders through the pocket park.

The environmental benefit is a major contribution to restoring a four-mile stretch of Kids Creek that is officially listed as impaired under provisions of the Clean Water Act. Along with other features, the restored stream area will reduce flood hazards, filter polluted runoff, and provide habitat for aquatic life.

Dave Dempsey, Senior Advisor

The human benefit is the preservation and restoration of emotional and spiritual peace, an oasis in an urban world of traffic, noise, and profound stresses. Furnished with benches, it invites the visitor to sit, listen, watch, and contemplate.

The project proves that the abstract idea of “environmental compliance” can be addressed creatively, in a way that is cost-effective while beautifying not just the appearance, but the soul of a community.

Paddle Protests & Water Celebration: Weekend Wrap-Up

Saturday, September 1 was a day of action for citizens of Michigan. The fourth annual Pipe Out Paddle Protest was held in the Straits of Mackinac, followed by the inaugural Water Is Life Festival. Organized by Jannan Cornstalk, both events drew participants from all over the mitten, coming together to protect our waters. The family friendly Water Is Life Festival featured musicians, panels, and celebrations of water.

“The 2018 Paddle Protest and Water is Life Festival were a powerful showing of our collective commitment to protecting our Great Lakes and decommissioning Line 5,” said FLOW Executive Director Liz Kirkwood, who participated in the event. “The voices of our Indigenous leaders with sovereign treaty rights were bold and clear: water is sacred and the Great Lakes should not continue as an oil corridor for Enbridge corporate profit.”

In addition to the events at Mackinaw City, the first sister paddle protest was held in Traverse City, MI. Paddling together down the Boardman River, participants “spilled” into West Bay, and joined into a flotilla to protest the continued operation of Line 5.

Co-organizer of the TC paddle Karen Bunting said, “We were thrilled with the community turnout for the sister Pipe Out Paddle Protest! We left the Union Dam area cleaner than we found it, paddled together down the Boardman River, and raised awareness about the dangers of Line 5. Other paddlers joined us in West Bay, and we formed a flotilla of about 50 water protectors to demand that Line 5 be decommissioned before it’s too late.”  She added,“Our most sincere appreciation to all those who showed up for this important event and our sponsors: FLOW, The River Outfitters, Paddle TC, Oryana, Image360 and Tee See Tee. We made a difference on Saturday and couldn’t have done it without all of you!”

All three events highlighted concerns about Line 5, elevating local voices and putting forth a unified effort and belief that protecting our Great Lakes is more important than preserving a risky 65-year-old pipeline.


Protecting Traverse City’s Tap Water

Anyone who visits Traverse City can easily see how important freshwater is to this region. The iconic Grand Traverse Bay, numerous inland lakes and the Boardman River winding through downtown make freshwater an essential part of Traverse City’s landscape and culture. Our unique freshwater resources provide remarkable recreational opportunities that bring thousands of visitors to the shores of Traverse City every summer. One of the major benefits from our freshwater that often goes unnoticed, is its use as tap water in our everyday lives.

Even as a longtime resident who is very passionate about water, I had to ask myself, do I know where the water from my tap comes from? Well, if you live in the city limits of Traverse City, the answer is the Grand Traverse East Bay (“East Bay”). Traverse City pumps an average of 5.19 million gallons a day from East Bay to supply the growing demand for freshwater.[1] This freshwater is taken out of East Bay through a steel and wood crib that sits about 40 feet below the water surface off the Old Mission Peninsula.[2] The water is pumped to the City’s water treatment plant, then distributed through roughly 120 miles of pipes to serve an ever-growing customer base of approximately 40,000 people.[3]

Planning the Future

Given East Bay’s significant role as the source of Traverse City’s tap water, it is important for us as a community to become engaged in planning for the future of East Bay and the surrounding Grand Traverse watershed.

This is no small task. The Grand Traverse watershed is approximately 976 square miles, covering portions of Grand Traverse, Leelanau, Antrim, and Kalkaska counties, including 132 miles of shoreline.[4] However, as vast as those numbers might seem, it is imperative that we understand and manage our freshwater at the watershed level to properly care for East Bay and the source of our tap water. A Watershed is defined as an area of land that drains all the streams and rainfall into a common outlet.[5]Watershed protection is critical to the long-term health of East Bay because the majority of East Bay’s water comes from tributaries throughout the watershed, including 180 billion gallons of water per year from the Elk Rapids Chain of Lakes.[6]

Fortunately, The Watershed Center Grand Traverse Bay and other organizations in the Northern Michigan area implemented a Grand Traverse Bay Watershed Protection plan in 2003.[7] The Protection Plan sets six broad goals that range from protecting the integrity of aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems within the watershed to improving the quality of water resources within Grand Traverse Bay and its watershed.[8] In addition, the 2003 Watershed Protection Plan has resulted in more than $7 million worth of watershed management projects, and has “prevented more than 16,230 tons of sediment, 9300 lbs. of phosphorous and 14,940 lbs. of nitrogen from entering the Grand Traverse Bay and its watershed.”[9]

What Can You Do?

This community-driven Watershed Protection Plan plays a crucial role in our management of East Bay, helping protect against issues such as invasive species, storm water run-off, and wetland protection. The Watershed Protection Plan from 2003 is currently being updated with citizen input by the Watershed Center. Although the Watershed Center’s community meetings regarding the new protection plan have already occurred, the Watershed Center is still accepting public input until July 31st through a public survey.

Julius Moss, Legal Intern

I encourage everyone to take a few minutes this weekend, reflect on the importance of water in our area, and share your ideas and concerns with the Watershed Center. We are fortunate to have an abundance of freshwater around us, we must continue to protect our valuable resource and together as a community prepare for the future of East Bay, the Grand Traverse Watershed, and our tap water.

[1] See http://www.traversecitymi.gov/watertreatmentpl.asp

[2] See http://www.traversecitymi.gov/watersource.asp

[3] Id.

[4] See https://www.gtbay.org/about-us/watershed/

[5] See https://water.usgs.gov/edu/watershed.html

[6] Id.

[7]  The Watershed Center Grand Traverse Bay, Grand Traverse Bay Watershed Protection Plan, Dec. 2003, https://www.gtbay.org/resources/watershed-protection-plan/.

[8] Id.

[9] See https://www.gtbay.org/about-us/achievements/

Tapping into Local Awesomeness

The Local Movement

Did you know that the City of Traverse City has been addressing plastic pollution, climate change, and water privatization for almost a decade? I’m so proud of our small but mighty Midwest town here in the heart of the Great Lakes.

In 2009, our city adopted a resolution to ban plastic bottled water from all municipal functions! Why? Because the city had already recognized the wasteful nature of single-use plastic water bottles, the staggering expense associated with bottled water, the climate change impacts and carbon footprint associated with producing and shipping plastics made from fossil fuels, and the incredible high quality drinking water Traverse City provides its residents. City Planner, Russ Soyring, explained that this resolution is a reflection of the city’s culture now. And it’s a testimony to how resilient we are when we decide to be. 

In less than 10 years, bottled water has outstripped the sales of carbonated soda beverages, and bottled water has been become another normalized American addiction. Compared to municipal water, bottled water can cost up to 2000% more per volume than tap water. Around 64% of commercial bottled water is just tap water that’s been filtered or purified. 70% of plastic water bottles are not recycled — and still people drink from them.

The Larger Conversation

This conversation about bottled water is a critical one to us at FLOW because it opens the door to a larger policy conversation about the urgency of retaining and protecting water as a public resource. That’s why we started the Get Off the Bottle campaign. That’s why we started mapping all the drinking fountains and refillable bottled water stations on an app called WeTap. If we’re going to change our habits, we know we need alternatives like knowing where we can fill up our reusable water bottle. 

In buying bottled water, consumers are inadvertently legitimizing the capture of water that belongs to all of us by private, for-profit companies who reap unearned, enormous riches. Water belongs to the public and cannot be privately owned. Turning water into a product for private profit is inconsistent with the 1500-year-old public trust doctrine of law and risks putting all water up for grabs. 

The majority of municipal water systems in this country – some 85% — are publicly owned and remain accountable to residents under constitutional and public governance. But as our municipal infrastructure continues to age without adequate funding support, there will be increasing pressure to privatize our drinking and wastewater systems. The latest example comes to us from Puerto Rico. And clear patterns emerge from water privatization, well documented to include: rate increases, lack of public accountability and transparency, higher operation costs, worse customer service, loss of one in three water jobs. A Food & Water Watch survey of rates by 500 water systems showed that privatized systems typically charge 59 percent more than publicly owned systems.

We know there is no one size that fits all; however, when it comes to water, we have to affirmatively commit to protecting it as a shared public resource. To this end, we believe that local governments across the Great Lakes Basin must insist on key principles that Jim Olson articulated in his blog several months ago:

  1. Declare all water public; just because our natural public water commons enter an intake pipe does not mean this water loses its public common and sovereign status. Government at all times must manage and provide water as sovereign for the benefit of people.
  2. Impose public oversight with a duty to protect the public service, public interest, public health, and public trust in water and the infrastructure the water passes through;
  3. Establish rights and Impose duties of accountability, notice, participation, equal access to safe, adequate, clean, affordable public water;
  4. Guarantee principles of due process, equal protection of law, and right to basic water service;
  5. Guarantee affordability and equity in access and use of water by all residents and customers;
  6. Implement fair and innovative pricing, subject to public oversight, a public utility or water board, with a statement of rights, duties, enforcement, and government process to assure safe, clean, affordable public water.

Liz Kirkwood, Executive Director


Fundamentally, while national and state environmental policies are critically important, we know that local communities are where policies take shape in our daily lives. It’s right here in our own communities where we can make a difference. Thanks TC for taking back the tap!

The Joys of Kayaking Northern Michigan

If you can’t find me at my desk at FLOW headquarters, you will usually find me somewhere on the water. I am a fan of pretty much any water activity you can think of. However, kayaking has become one of my favorite ways to get out on the water.

I started seriously paddling a few years ago when I began working at Backcountry North, a local outfitter in downtown Traverse City. With the help of then-owner Sandy Graham, I learned the ins and outs of paddle strokes, boat position, and of course all the pre-trip planning that goes into having a great day on the water. With this knowledge, I have been able to participate in multi-day sea kayaking excursions on the Great Lakes, and have spent a considerable amount of time paddling the whitewater rapids scattered across Northern Michigan.

Kayaking is a great way to get out and enjoy the freshwater that makes Northern Michigan so special. Whether it be floating down the Boardman River, or paddling next to the 450-foot-tall Sleeping Bear Dunes on Lake Michigan, the perspective from a kayak is truly one of a kind. This unique perspective shows how incredible the fresh water in Northern Michigan truly is and how fortunate we are to have it at our fingertips.

It always amazes me that when I am sitting in my kayak out in Grand Traverse Bay that I am sitting in the Great Lakes system, which makes up approximately one-fifth of the surface freshwater around the world. However, as insignificant as I might feel in that moment, I also try to remind myself that the Great Lakes are still dependent upon each and every one of us to make the right decisions for their future. Whether that’s by saying NO to Line 5 in the Straits of Mackinac or making sure that we leave no trace when spending the day on the water, we all play a part in the future of the Great Lakes.

Julius Moss

This summer, I am thrilled not only to be back on the water, but also to be able to spread my knowledge and passion about kayaking and the freshwater resources here in Northern Michigan. Backcountry North is offering kayak demos throughout the summer, and I am fortunate to be working with them in helping others get out and experience the joys of kayaking. If you have any interest in participating in a kayak demo, please contact Backcountry North for further details at (231) 941-1100. I hope all of you get the chance to experience a day of paddling in Northern Michigan, and I look forward to seeing many of you out on the water this summer!

Giving Back Can Come in Many Forms

Giving Back Can Come in Many Forms

A Sunday afternoon spent walking through downtown Traverse City, taking in some much needed and long overdue sunshine and fresh air, strolling along the Boardman River and picking up trash – a perfect day, right? Perhaps that last part sounds less than appealing, but I promise you, it was the highlight of my day. A couple weeks ago, I participated in a river clean-up organized by a few eco-minded local businesses. For the chance to be outside and help out for a good cause, I was happy to spend a few hours picking up litter.

Dozens of other area residents must have felt the same way. Everyone from young kids to retirees came prepared with trash bags and gloves, ready to roll up their sleeves and put in some elbow grease to make our town, and waterways, a little cleaner. As I picked up cigarette butts, bottle caps, and plastic bags off the river bank, I was met with the smiling faces of other volunteers and gratitude from passersby, taking the time to stop and say “thank you.” Maybe it was sunshine-induced happiness after months of drab, cold northern Michigan winter, but the air seemed to be saturated with positive energy. I’m often asked how I make time to volunteer while balancing work, school, and coaching, and volunteer events like this remind me why I choose to make it a priority. I might not be able to volunteer consistently or lend my skills to every organization I support. The most important part is to give back when I can.

Giving can come in many forms, but we all have the capacity for it.  

It doesn’t have to feel like a time-consuming commitment, or financially burdensome. Donations are often siloed into two categories: time or money. If you want to affect change, but are feeling short on both, I offer you a third option. The act of giving can also include the gift of change: a willingness to stop buying bottled water, using a reusable mug or thermos for your to-go coffee, or saying no to single-use straws. These are just a few of the small but simple actions that can protect our environment, and make our world a better place for everyone. And isn’t that what giving is all about?

Thank you to all the local businesses for organizing for the Boardman River Clean Up:

  • Brick Wheels
  • Grand Traverse Guide
  • Keen Technical Solutions
  • Scuba North
  • The Northern Angler
  • Way of Knife

With the collective power of 75 participants, we collected more than 600 pounds of trash!