Grand Traverse Baykeeper

Serving as the Eyes, Ears and Voice of the Natural Wonder that is Grand Traverse Bay

Grand Traverse Bay’s deep aquamarine hues epitomize the region’s beauty and provide the lifeblood for our local economy.  This precious resource demands protection.  The Grand Traverse Baykeeper serves as the eyes, ears and voice for the Grand Traverse Bay and its watershed.  Our Baykeeper is John Nelson, an environmental advocate and leader with deep roots in the Grand Traverse area.

The Grand Traverse Baykeeper, a program of the Watershed Center, serves as a resource to citizens, planners and municipalities throughout the region.  Our focus is finding sustainable solutions to protect the environmental health of the Grand Traverse region’s most precious water resources.  Hear more about how the Grand Traverse Baykeeper works to protect your Up North water quality~and quality of life.

In January 2002, the Watershed Center became a member of the international Waterkeeper Alliance and inaugurated the Grand Traverse Baykeeper® program.  The Waterkeeper Alliance is an international organization boasting nearly 200 water programs located throughout the world.

What Does the Grand Traverse Baykeeper Do?

  • Advocates for the environmental health of Grand Traverse Bay and its watershed
  • Leads a visible role as an advocate for the watershed – on the water and in the community
  • Serves as a liaison between concerned citizens and regulatory bodies
  • Monitors area waters
  • Assists local governments
  • Conducts outreach and education programs
  • Pursues action against polluters when necessary

The Baykeeper provides a full-time presence on Grand Traverse Bay and its surrounding watershed and serves as the public’s ombudsperson and advocate for the Bay.

Grand Traverse Baykeeper tasks include:

  • Responding to questions from local governments, developers, planners and citizens
  • Being involved in community planning projects and boards
  • Providing oversight and comments about proposed projects requiring permits
  • Proactively interacting with communities, developers and planners about stormwater and wastewater issues
  • Responding to citizen concerns and advising them about water quality issues

The Grand Traverse Baykeeper’s Bay Monitor Tugboat

The Bay Monitor is a vital component of The Watershed Center’s Baykeeper program. The Bay Monitor provides a stable platform for water quality monitoring, research and education.

The 23-foot Bay Monitor’s aluminum hull was fabricated and its engine installed by Fair Metal Boats, Inc., in Ann Arbor, Michigan. All other equipment and fittings were built and installed by volunteers during winter 2003-04.

The Bay Monitor’s eco-friendly features include:

  • Composting head
  • Clean bilge system
  • Dry exhaust
  • Energy-efficient diesel engine that utilizes bio-diesel
  • All trim, cabinetry and flooring fashioned from wood native to our watershed, cut and aged by a Watershed Center board member, with the exception of a small section of beadboard paneling

This unique boat is a symbol of our commitment to protect Grand Traverse Bay and the waters that feed it.

Help Us Keep Grand Traverse Bay and its Watershed Clean!

If you observe any threats, potential violations or have questions about something you have observed in the Bay or its watershed, please call us at 231.935.1514.

To report observations of immediate threats such as spills of hazardous wastes or toxic materials onto the ground or in the water please call to the 24-hour emergency dispatcher at the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s Pollution Alert System:

1.800.662.9278

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