Grand Traverse Bay Officially Frozen
| February 13, 2018 | 3:49 pm | Community News | Comments closed


UPDATE February 26, 2018  Grand Traverse Bay thawed on Sunday, February 25, ending a 14 day streak of being iced in. We will continue to monitor ice on the bay and if it refreezes this season, we will resume counting the days frozen from 14.


TRAVERSE CITY, Michigan – February 13, 2018 – Grand Traverse Bay officially froze on Sunday, February 11, according to The Watershed Center Grand Traverse Bay. The bay is considered frozen when west bay freezes up to Power Island for at least 24 hours.

In 2015, the bay was declared frozen on February 16 and stayed frozen for 53 days, but it has not frozen the last two winters. This marks the eighth time it has frozen over since 1990, according to Heather Smith, Grand Traverse BAYKEEPER® at The Watershed Center.

“Back in the early to mid-1900s the bay froze 80-90% of the time,” said Smith. “Around 1990, ice cover dropped to 20-30%. Annual variation in ice cover is due to weather patterns, with changes in climate impacting the long-term trends.”

Besides providing recreational opportunities such as ice fishing and skating, another benefit of having ice cover is reduced evaporation, according to Smith. “Less evaporation could contribute to higher water levels in the spring.”

The Watershed Center anticipates there could be thawing in the days ahead as above freezing daytime temperatures are expected. As such, Smith urges caution on all bodies of water, including east and west bay.

The Watershed Center will continue to monitor conditions on the bay and will keep the official log of the number of frozen days through the season.

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The Watershed Center is a non-profit organization that advocates for clean water in Grand Traverse Bay and acts to protect and preserve its 1,000-square mile watershed, which covers portions of Grand Traverse, Leelanau, Antrim, and Kalkaska counties. Learn more at

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Proper Snow Storage Practices
| January 19, 2018 | 4:18 pm | Community News | Comments closed

In the winter, we often receive concerns or complaints of poor snow storage practices on some of our most environmentally sensitive lands – near lakes, streams, and rivers. Snow piles resulting from parking lot and street plowing can contain contaminants including salt, sand, heavy metals, petroleum products, bacteria, pathogens, and pesticides.  When snow piles are stored near waterbodies, they pose a real threat to water quality.

Removing snow from parking lots and roads is critical for public safety, and luckily there are best management practices for snow storage to ensure water quality and public health remain protected.  The following tips, developed by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), are intended to guide municipalities, commercial and industrial site managers, and homeowners with snow storage decisions:

  • Snow piles should be away from, and not within, waterbodies, wetlands, floodplains shorelines, and beaches. Piles should be located at least 50 feet away from the ordinary high water mark of any waterbody.
  • Snow piles should not be located in wellhead protection areas. Piles should be 50 feet from your private water supply well and 200 feet from any community water supply well.
  • The best snow pile sites are those that drain to infiltration basins, or vegetated depressions, that trap and filter snowmelt before it enters our water resources.
  • Snow piles should not be near sites such as playgrounds and parks where people can easily be exposed to contaminants.
  • Avoid snow piles in areas where contaminants in snowmelt can be introduced to the groundwater, such as areas of fractured rock surfaces.
  • Storage sites should not have readily erodible soils or be located on bluffs or steep slopes.

Local governments – townships, municipalities, and counties – may have local laws or ordinances that guide snow management activities; check with your local planner or zoning administrator to learn more about potential ordinances in your area.

The State of Michigan also plays a role in ensuring that snow storage practices do not negatively affect our water resources. Part 31 of Michigan’s Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act prohibits the discharge of pollutants into Waters of the State when pollutants have the potential to impair our waters. Please report any questionable snow storage practices in or near waterbodies to the Grand Traverse BAYKEEPER®, Heather Smith.

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TWC Raises $20,000 through SwingShift and the Stars
| November 21, 2017 | 3:22 pm | Community News | Comments closed

The Watershed Center is proud to share that we have raised more than $20,000 thus far through SwingShift and the Stars. All funds raised will support our mission of protecting and preserving Grand Traverse Bay and its watershed through our advocacy and on-the-ground programs. A huge thank you to our dancers, Traverse City Commissioner Richard Lewis and instructor Holly Provenzano for their commitment, time, and talent over the past few months.

Donations will continue to be accepted through early January 2018. Donate online here.

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TWC Receives GLRI Grant from U.S. EPA
| November 1, 2017 | 5:26 pm | News & Events | Comments closed

EPA announces $1.5M in grants to improve water quality in Grand Traverse Bay, Michigan

Contact Information:
Allison Lippert (

CHICAGO – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded three Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grants totaling more than $1.5 million for invasive species control and urban watershed management in Grand Traverse Bay, a bay of Lake Michigan in the northwestern lower peninsula of Michigan.

“Through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, we’re fulfilling our mission to restore the health of the water that Michigan communities depend on,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. “These grants will assist local partners in restoring Grand Traverse Bay while improving economies and preventing future damage to the environment.”

The grants announced today for water quality projects in Grand Traverse Bay are:

The Nature Conservancy – $550,070

“The Nature Conservancy is very excited to do this work in partnership with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Central Michigan University. Controlling the invasive rusty crayfish on Great Lakes reefs is a critical piece of the strategy to restore spawning habitat for lake herring, lake trout and lake whitefish,” said Helen Taylor, state director for Michigan at The Nature Conservancy.

The Nature Conservancy will use funding to remove invasive invertebrates that contribute to the decline of native fish populations. Funding will support the manual removal and deployment of barriers to guard against species that consume the eggs of native fish such as Lake Trout, Cisco and Whitefish. The project will help restore native fish populations across the Great Lakes Basin, including up to four acres in Grand Traverse Bay.

The Grand Traverse Conservation District – $539,605

“Grand Traverse Conservation District and the Northwest Michigan Invasive Species Network are excited to work on our fourth Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grant through the EPA. Past grants have allowed us to grow crucial invasive species awareness and control efforts in our region, improving partnerships, strengthening our science-based decision-making, and supporting the local economy,” said Marsha Barber Clark, Executive Director of the Grand Traverse Conservation District. “The current grant allows us to take this work to the next level, focusing on ornamental invasive species prevention and management. We look forward to continuing to work with partners, municipalities, and landowners to tackle this ongoing threat to our ‘Up North’ way of life.”

The Grand Traverse Conservation District, following a civilian conservation corps model, will use funding to control invasive plant species in up to 180 acres of high priority areas in northwest Michigan, including the Lake Michigan Dunes, Misty Acres Preserve, Trapp Farm, Timbers Recreation Area, and Reffitt Nature Preserve. Controlling the spread of invasive plants will improve water quality and availability of resources for native species.

The Watershed Center Grand Traverse Bay –  $499,989

“We are thrilled to continue receiving investment at the Federal level to restore a critical urban stream in our community,” said Christine Crissman, Executive Director of The Watershed Center.  “We’ve spent the last 15 years working to have Kids Creek removed from the State of Michigan’s Impaired Waters List and this puts us one step closer to making that a reality.”

The Watershed Center will use funding to construct a wetland floodplain area adjacent to the 14th Street stormwater outfall in Traverse City. The project is expected to capture and treat approximately 177 million gallons of stormwater per year, including sediments, nutrients and pathogens. As a result, water quality will improve in nearby Kids Creek, which flows to Lake Michigan.

For more information on the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, visit:

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Dole Family Foundation Donates $15,000 to Protect Water Quality
| October 30, 2017 | 6:09 pm | News & Events | Comments closed

Christine Crissman
The Watershed Center
231.935.1514 ext. 1




TRAVERSE CITY, Michigan – September 25, 2017 – 
The Watershed Center Grand Traverse Bay is pleased to announce a $15,000 grant from the Dole Family Foundation to protect water quality in the Elk River Chain of Lakes watershed.

“We’re thrilled that the Dole Family Foundation continues their commitment to clean, healthy water in our community,” said Christine Crissman, The Watershed Center’s executive director. “The Elk River Chain of Lakes watershed contributes 60% of the surface water flowing into Grand Traverse Bay and plays a critical role in the water quality of the bay and Lake Michigan.”

The Dole Family Foundation indicated a preference to fund significant grants that involved multiple players tackling the same issue, which was the impetus for five nonprofits to join forces for water quality. Leading the effort are Three Lakes Association, Antrim Conservation District, and Torch Conservation Center with support from Torch Lake Protection Alliance and The Watershed Center.

“While we may represent different organizations, we all have a common goal to protect water quality,” said Peg Comfort, Torch Conservation Center Board Member. “We aligned on three outcomes for this grant, which are to create a searchable water quality digital database for the Elk River Chain of Lakes watershed, establish a baseline assessment of Torch Lake, and build the capacity of local organizations to monitor and analyze water quality.”

Antrim Conservation District is especially looking forward to creating a searchable water quality database.

“There have been dozens of studies conducted over the past 40 years,” said Tom Clement, District Manager for the Antrim Conservation District. “We have data in many formats – everything from hand written field record sheets to digital databases – stored in numerous locations. The ability to have all of our historical and current data in one place for everyone to access is a major step forward.”

The project is expected to kick-off this month and run through June 2018. The project also includes matches of cash and in-kind services from partner organizations. 

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The Watershed Center is a non-profit organizations that advocates for clean water in Grand Traverse Bay and acts to protect and preserve its 1,000-square-mile watershed, which covers portions of Grand Traverse, Leelanau, Antrim, and Kalkaska counties. Learn more at

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