Letters 11-23-2015

Cheering From Petoskey While red-eyed rats boil fanatically up from the ancient sewers of Paris to feast on pools of French blood, at the G20 meeting the farcical pied piper of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue thrusts a bony finger at the president of the Russian Federation and yells: “liberté, égalité, fraternité, Clinton, Kerry--Obamaism!”

The Other Mothers And Fathers Regarding the very nice recent article on “The First Lady of Yoga,” I have taken many classes with Sandy Carden, and I consider her to be a great teacher. However, I feel the article is remiss to not even give acknowledgement to other very important yoga influences in northern Michigan...

Drop The Blue Angels The last time I went to the National Cherry Festival, I picked the wrong day. The Blue Angels were forcing everyone to duck and cover from the earsplitting cacophony overhead...

Real Advice For The Sick In the Nov. 16 article “Flu Fighters,” author Kristi Kates fails to mention the most basic tool in our arsenal during Influenza season... the flu vaccine! I understand you might be afraid of being the victim of Jenny McCarthyism, but the science is there...

Keeping Traverse City in the Dark Our environment is our greatest asset. It sustains our lives; it drives our economy. We ignore it at our peril. Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council (NMEAC) has submitted letters of concern to both the city commission and planning commission regarding the proposed 9-story buildings on Pine Street. We have requested an independent environmental assessment with clear answers before a land use permit is granted...

All About Them Another cartoon by Jen Sorensen that brings out the truth! Most of her cartoons are too slanted in a Socialist manner, but when she gets it correct, she hits the nail on the target! “Arizona is the first state to put a 12-month lifetime limit on welfare benefits.” That quote is in the opening panel... 

Unfair To County Employees It appears that the commissioners of Grand Traverse County will seek to remedy a shortfall in the 2016 budget by instituting cuts in expenditures, the most notable the reduction of contributions to various insurance benefits in place for county employees. As one example, the county’s contributions to health insurance premiums will decrease from ten to six percent in 2016. What this means, of course, is that if a county employee wishes to maintain coverage at the current level next year, the employee will have to come up with the difference...

Up, Not Out I would like to congratulate the Traverse City Planning Commission on their decision to approve the River West development. Traverse City will either grow up or grow out. For countless reasons, up is better than out. Or do we enjoy such things as traffic congestion and replacing wooded hillsides with hideous spectacles like the one behind Tom’s West Bay. At least that one is on the edge of town as opposed to in the formerly beautiful rolling meadows of Acme Township...

Lessons In Winning War I am saddened to hear the response of so many of legislators tasked with keeping our country safe. I listen and wonder if they know what “winning” this kind of conflict requires or even means? Did we win in Korea? Did we win in Vietnam? Are we winning in Afghanistan? How is Israel winning against the Palestinians? Will they “take out” Hezbollah...

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Sandra Serra Bradshaw - June 15th, 2006
Beautiful Grand Traverse Bay draws many of us to this region. Yet, the bay’s ecosystem is changing because of population growth and development. Monitoring these changes has become increasingly important and the summer of 2006 will prove no exception.
“In ten years Grand Traverse Bay will not even be recognizable,” said Robert “Bobby” F. Kennedy Jr., president of the Waterkeeper Alliance, in an interview a few years ago for the Northern Express. Those words stung. Locally, growth brings with it man-made necessities including concrete, blacktop, roofing, fertilizer - each contributing to contaminants and pollutants flowing from the watershed into the bay. 
The need for waterkeepers to protect America’s waterways was first mentioned in a book by Robert H. Boyle in 1969 about the Hudson River’s contamination. The first riverkeeper, John Cronin, was established on the Hudson in 1983. Kennedy joined the group in 1984, which eventually grew into the present-day Waterkeeper Alliance, active in over 130 locations around the world. 
The Watershed Center of Grand Traverse Bay appointed baykeeper John Nelson in 2002 when the center joined the Waterkeeper Alliance. Nelson oversees 973 square miles of watershed in Grand Traverse, Leelanau, Antrim and Kalkaska counties, along with portions of Otsego and Charlevoix counties. Included are nine major drainage basins: Elk River Chain of Lakes, the Boardman River, Mitchell Creek, Acme Creek, Ptebego Creek, Yuba Creek, the East Bay shoreline, the West Bay shoreline and Old Mission Peninsula.

Nelson, an Annapolis Naval Academy graduate and retired science teacher, is passionate about protecting the bay.
“I grew up here. It is hurtful for me to see the natural environment being harmed,” he said.  “One issue that is of deep concern is the increasing algae along the near shore beaches. From 1991-1998 the algae beds - called macrophyte beds – have doubled in number. A lot of this is due to use of fertilizers.
“If you get up in an airplane for an aerial view - it’s not very pretty,” Nelson continued.
“The many shopping malls -- all the pavement -- are adding to the problem. Take Mitchell Creek and Kids Creek - they have been compromised by the growth and are just a few miles from the bay. All the sediment flows right into it. Stream management is becoming a huge issue.
“The more impervious structures we make, the more sediment and nutrient run-off end up in the bay. All of that sediment - a nutrient overload - raises the temperature of what were once cold- water streams that were great for fishing. Look what happens. Now the temperature has been raised and there are far fewer fish. Mitchell and Kids Creek were once popular places to fish – not any more,
“Wastewater is another big concern, and Suttons Bay is a perfect example. Its population has doubled in size and its wastewater - rather than a periodic discharge - continuously discharges right into the bay, as will the new one (water treatment plant) being built. The bay will suffer. For one-and-a-half million dollars more (of the $4.2 million budget), this could be remedied. Look at the bay - is that not worth it?”

Traverse City area residents took a different approach to protect West Grand Traverse Bay. The city’s Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant serves over 45,000 persons in Grand Traverse and Leelanau counties. 
“It was a $31 million project to address plant capacity as well as quality effluent discharge,” said the treatment plant project manager Scott Blair, who works under Operations Management International based in Denver. Instead of a second-best effort, Blair notes that the community constructed a plant that offers the cleanest possible discharge of treated water back into the bay.
Water clarity in the bay is another issue that has come under scrutiny. While many think clear water is advantageous - it is not. Zebra mussels (which filter water to a crystal clarity) have destroyed many of the tiny organisms that feed many fish in the bay.
Other species are also a problem.
“Exotic species, such as Quagga mussels seem to be getting the most attention now,” said Tom Kelly, director of the Inland Seas Education Association in Suttons Bay.
“The Quagga mussels seem to have replaced the Zebra mussels. They are more aggressive because they are able to use a wider area for habitation such as clinging to the sand rather than just hard objects as Zebra mussels do,” said Kelly. 
Quagga mussels were first discovered in 1991 in Lake Ontario, having been transported in (freighters) ballast water from Eurasia.  Zebra mussels, also from Eurasia by the same method of transport, were first identified in1988 in Lake St. Clair.

Another problem besides the exotics is the lower water levels. Though higher than the last few years’ record low’s, shorelines have changed, and where waterfront owners once had sandy beaches, now many are concerned with the new vegetative growth building up.  This growth, however, acts as a protection to help keep sediment from entering into the bay.
Leaving this vegetative shoreline has become a political issue with many waterfront owners - here and throughout the state - by the Save Our Shoreline association (SOS).  Members of the group wish to be able to remove the plant growth and restore their beaches, despite a DEQ ruling that shore grooming is illegal. 
So, if the bay is clean, why worry about it?
Anne Brasie, executive director of The Watershed Center, hears that question often and has a response.
“It’s true, according to the numbers everything is still within state guidelines, but you have to remember that our bay is already cleaner than many of the waters of the state that these guidelines are based on,” Brasie said. “Do we really want to only meet those numbers? We are seeing subtle and not so subtle changes to the ecosystem. The increase in algae washing up on our beaches is a good example. None of us knows which day in the influx of nutrients or toxic chemicals will tip the scale into the unhealthy zone. Aren’t we better off staying as far away from that possibility as we can?”
She adds that she and Nelson attend the national Waterkeeper Alliance meetings each year to represent Grand Traverse Bay and the waters of Lake Michigan. “We spend five days surrounded by some of the most inspired and talented people out there - all working to keep our waters clean.
“We get to look out at that bay and enjoy all our wonderful lakes and streams and know that we do one of the best jobs around. How can you find a cause more relevant to our quality of life in this region? The health of our economy is so dependent on the health of our natural resources.”

The Watershed Center Grand Traverse Bay is located at 232 E. Front Street Traverse City, MI 49684 231-935-1514 (ph); 231-935-3829 (fax). Internet:

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