Category: Point of (Water) View Blog
Inspiring Then and Now: A Brown Bag Reunion with Initiators of The Watershed Center
| June 25, 2019 | 6:40 pm | Point of (Water) View Blog | Comments closed

This July, The Watershed Center will celebrate our 25th anniversary. Looking back, we have accomplished countless projects and initiatives that have kept our water clean, giving us ample reason to celebrate. But we didn’t do this alone. To celebrate properly, we wanted to go back to the beginning and reconnect with those that made our work possible.

In the early ‘90s, some forward-thinking, engaged community members started meeting over brown bag lunches to talk about the most unique natural water body in this area – Grand Traverse Bay. Newly formed and well-established environmental organizations sat around a table with elected and appointed officials, planning groups, municipal staff, state agencies, educational organizations, engineers, and many others. They talked about common areas of interest, accomplishments they should celebrate, barriers they were facing, and what they could do together to affect change and have a positive impact on the health of the watershed. These conversations led to joint grant applications, policies and ordinances being adopted, shared funding and resources, coordinated projects, common messaging, and the formation of The Watershed Center.

A few weeks ago, I invited as many of the original cohort as I could find to reconnect over another brown bag lunch. They shared memories of the people and organizations involved in the early days, laughing and remembering stories that haven’t been told for many years. We talked about the numerous successes we have collectively accomplished and what challenges we are still facing. With a renewed sense of enthusiasm and devotion to enhancing the environmental health of our community, we even began talking about what we might want to collaborate on next. Even though 25 years may have passed, our community is still profoundly dedicated to protecting our valuable water resources and tackling any obstacles that threaten its health.

Throughout the twenty years I have lived and worked in this community, I have been involved in numerous partnerships, collaborations, and networks. The environmental community up north is full of passionate, dedicated people working for influential organizations; so many, in fact, that we can often be confused with one other. However, each one of these groups respects each other’s work and recognizes the greater impact we have from working together. I believe this culture of collaboration was fostered by those brown bag lunches and continues to strengthen today.

The Watershed Center began with a vision for collaboration that will make and keep our water clean. The board, staff, and volunteers here have worked hard in pursuit of that, but we have been supported along the way. So many of the original brown bag lunch attendees are colleagues I continue to talk with, rely on, have projects with, and highly respect today. That spirit of collaboration has not faded; something that can be seen by the successes of our collective work. I am truly humbled and inspired by each of them and am so grateful I could sit with them again to talk, laugh, learn, and continue to strive to keep our water clean for generations to come.

Christine Crissman is the Executive Director of The Watershed Center








Registration Now Open for the Kids Swim for Grand Traverse Bay
| June 5, 2019 | 5:30 pm | News & Events, Point of (Water) View Blog | Comments closed

May 31, 2019
Shelli DiFranco, Director of Community Engagement,
The Watershed Center Grand Traverse Bay
231-935-1514 ext 5




Registration Opens Tomorrow for Kids Swim for Grand Traverse Bay

Traverse City, Michigan −
Celebrate clean, healthy water in Grand Traverse Bay with a fun half-mile point-to-point open water swim aimed at swimmers ages 12-17 on Friday, August 9 at 6pm. Registration for the second annual Kids Swim for Grand Traverse Bay opens tomorrow, Saturday, June 1 at 8am EDT at


What:              Registration opens on Saturday, June 1 for the second annual Kids Swim for Grand Traverse Bay. Registration fee is $25 per swimmer; unlike the Swim for Grand Traverse Bay, the Kids Swim does not have a fundraising component.
When:             Registration opens Saturday, June 1 at 8am EDT for the Kids Swim, which will take place on Friday, August 9 at 6pm.
Where:            Registration is available at
Who:               Youth swimmers looking for a fun event with their teammates and friends
Why:               The Kids Swim is a family-friendly companion event to the Swim for Grand Traverse Bay and was launched in response to community interest. The Kids Swim is hosted by The Watershed Center, a nonprofit organization based in Traverse City, Michigan that advocates for clean water in Grand Traverse Bay and acts to protect and preserve the Bay’s 1,000 square mile watershed.
For more information, visit

Grand Traverse Bay Officially Frozen
| February 13, 2019 | 5:16 pm | Point of (Water) View Blog | Comments closed

Shelli DiFranco
The Watershed Center
231.935.1514 ext. 5



TRAVERSE CITY, Michigan – February 13, 2019 – Grand Traverse Bay officially froze on Wednesday, February 13, 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 2018, the bay was declared frozen on February 11 and remained frozen for 14 days before thawing. This marks the sixth time the bay has frozen over in the past 20 years, according to Heather Smith, Grand Traverse BAYKEEPER® at The Watershed Center.

“Back in the early to mid-1900s the bay froze 70-90% of the time,” said Smith. “Around 1990, we started to see fewer years of ice cover. Annual variation in ice cover is due to weather patterns, with changes in climate impacting the long-term trends. This decrease in ice cover is not unique to our region. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports that annual average ice coverage declined 71% from 1973 to 2010 in all five of the Great Lakes and Lake St. Clair.”

Besides providing recreational opportunities such as ice fishing and skating, wildlife can reap the benefits of the frozen bay, too. “Ice coverage can be helpful for some fish species, such as white fish, whose eggs may be protected from winter storms,” said Smith.

There will be variations in the thickness of the ice. As such, Smith urges extreme 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.

# # #

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


Discovery Center Great Lakes to Host Volunteer Open House on February 2
| January 25, 2019 | 9:16 pm | Point of (Water) View Blog | Comments closed

Shelli DiFranco
The Watershed Center
231.935.1514 ext. 5




TRAVERSE CITY, Michigan – January 25, 2019 – The Discovery Center – Great Lakes is hosting a volunteer open house on Saturday, February 2 from 11am – 3pm. The event is free and open to the public, and attendees are encouraged to visit each participating nonprofit’s location on campus.

“We are thrilled to gather together to promote volunteering in our community,” said Tom Maynard, Impact Manager at the Great Lakes Children’s Museum. “Our hope is that anyone with an interest in volunteering and a passion for the Great Lakes can find an opportunity to use their talent and time in 2019.”

There will be five water-focused nonprofits in attendance: The Great Lakes Children’s Museum, Inland Seas Education Association, Maritime Heritage Alliance, Traverse Area Community Sailing, and The Watershed Center Grand Traverse Bay. Volunteer opportunities will range from individual events to regular commitments.

“Volunteering is fun and is a great way to really engage with your community and meet new people with similar interests,” said Heather Smith, Grand Traverse BAYKEEPER® at The Watershed Center. “We have a number of volunteers who donate their time and energy as a way to express their passion for clean water.”

The volunteer open house will take place at 13240 SW Bay Shore Drive in Traverse City.

# # #

The Discovery Center’s mission is to create and maintain a collaborative educational facility where children, youth, and adults can learn the value of historic preservation, the importance of environmental stewardship, the joy of discovery, and the pleasure of water-based recreation as well as to provide support to the member water related charitable organizations for their respective operations and missions. For more information, visit

Join TWC by Submitting Comments to MDEQ to protect the Kids Creek Watershed
| September 11, 2018 | 8:05 pm | Point of (Water) View Blog | Comments closed

Join The Watershed Center by submitting comments to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to keep hot, chlorinated water from the Kids Creek watershed. You can submit your comments here:

Here is a draft comment:

Dear Michigan Department of Environmental Quality,

I have concerns over Cordia at Grand Traverse Commons’ request for a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit.

I stand with The Watershed Center Grand Traverse Bay and their four recommendations:
1. Require year-round water quality monitoring.
2. Require appropriate temperature standards.
3. Prohibit overflow into Kids Creek Tributary AA.
4. Expand photographic monitoring requirements.

I request the DEQ modify the permit conditions to more adequately protect Kids Creek and its wetland network. Thank you for your consideration.

[Your name]