Category: Community News
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

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.

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.

Thank You Detroit Red Wings and ITC
| September 13, 2017 | 9:10 pm | Community News | Comments closed

We had some very special guests stop by our offices today – players from the Detroit Red Wings and staff from ITC Holdings Corp. as part of their 2017 MI Wings Community Tour!

We’re thrilled to have been chosen as one of the community stops. We introduced the players to our staff, board member/Baykeeper Emeritus, and one of our star volunteers, took them on a tug boat tour and showed them aquatic insect specimens.

And they treated us to a custom Red Wings jersey and a generous donation to help us continue advocating for clean water in Grand Traverse Bay and it’s watershed.

Thank you Red Wings and ITC!

Baykeeper Heather Smith shows Detroit Red Wings players Ryan Sproul, Nick Jensen and Anthony Mantha aquatic insect specimens.


Our executive director Christine Crissman is thrilled to receive a custom Red Wings jersey!


Thank you ITC Holdings Corp. and Detroit Red Wings for selecting us as part of your 2017 MI Wings Community Tour!

The Watershed Center to Participate in SwingShift and the Stars 2017
| August 17, 2017 | 11:51 pm | Community News | Comments closed

The Watershed Center is honored to participate in SwingShift and The Stars and their Million Dollar Challenge this season. We will participate in the Friday, November 17 event at The City Opera House in downtown Traverse City.

We set an ambitious goal to raise $45,000, all of which will help our mission of protecting and advocating for Grand Traverse Bay. Our work is more important than ever as our freshwater resources are at risk.

To continue to thrive and keep Grand Traverse Bay’s waters fishable, swimmable, and drinkable, we need support from people like you. In a time where the future of environmental priorities is unknown, it is critical to work at a local level. Your support makes difference. 

Learn more here.