Laws of attraction might ignite our love for certain lakes, rivers and streams. But while we’re inherently drawn to a favorite freshwater place, beauty alone doesn’t deepen our bond — or channel our affection into action.
In our relationship with Michigan’s waters, they are the first to give.
They awaken our senses. They dilute our troubles. They revive our spirits and inspire us to venture further. They bring us closer together. They hold our greatest memories. And they instill new beginnings.
A better understanding of how we can protect and preserve these gifts of Michigan’s lakes and watersheds is coursing throughout the state. This issue highlights a bit of what we’ve learned and are working to achieve — the ways and places we can begin giving back.
Michigan’s schools of higher learning are eye-opening spots to start (page 38). As regional universities are pioneering programs in environmental studies and sustainability, students are aiding faculty scientists on the frontier of freshwater research.
“As a kid growing up in western Michigan I spent my summers fishing local lakes and streams,” shares Carson Prichard, who recently earned his master’s degree in Fisheries and Wildlife at Michigan State University. “Having derived so much enjoyment my entire life from nature…and with so much human utility derived from the water, the fish, the beaches…I decided I wanted to help fill the holes in our understanding.”
“The sense of place is here,” says Hans Van Sumeren, director of the Great Lakes Water Studies Institute at Northwestern Michigan College. “We’re seeing a very well-coordinated momentum build.”
While a surge of federal funding is being channeled into academic collaborations, education through public outreach is also strengthening Michigan’s freshwater resources. On the homefront, shoreline property owners are discovering more each day how they can enhance the quality of life on — and of — their water (page 44).
“They’re learning there are varying degrees of naturalization,” notes Mike Mlnarik, a Michigan Certified Natural Shoreline Professional in Rockford, whose role as designer includes enlightenment.
Non-profit organizations such as the Michigan Inland Lakes Partnership (page 48) and Michigan Lake and Stream Association (page 25) are also educating shoreline residents, while a realm of opportunities to lend back a hand exist for those who love freshwater whether they reside along it or not (pages 24, 26 and 28).
Beyond this — for anyone who hasn’t yet uncovered what makes the state’s glacier-carved waterways worth such efforts — the Michigan Department of Natural Resources offers no- or low-cost insights through Go-Get Outdoors (page 30).
“The Recreation Passport essentially gives folks a ‘free trial’ of nearly every recreational pursuit through the DNR’s nationally-recognized Recreation 101 program,” says DNR Parks and Recreation Chief Ron Olson.
It just may be the most enlightening way to spring into action. Let us know what you discover!
With heartfelt thanks for reading,
Lisa M. Jensen, Editor, Michigan BLUE Magazine