Sunday, July 29, 2007

West Michigan Skateboard Parks- Quarter Pipes Need More Quarters

Ludington, Scottville and Hart all have skate parks in their plans, but these popular structures cost big bucks.

The City of Ludington hosted a groundbreaking ceremony in June of this year for its already designed skate park located at Stearns Park. The plan is ready to go, $229,000 dollars have been raised. Bids were accepted for the construction. But last week when the bids were opened, there was a $120,000 surprise, and not a good one. The actual cost will be more like $352,000. Ludington Mayor John Henderson says that this is a bump in the road, but that the skate plaza will be built. However, the kids with their boards might not be lining up in 2007 to ride. The construction committee will meet soon to discuss some options. There may be places where reasonable changes can be made to the plans.

The funds for this project have come primarily from local efforts. The Mayor's Youth Advisory Committee kicked the project off by raising $6000. Other local donations both corporate and from individuals have followed. One grant of $75,000 was received. Now, more money will have to be raised.

In Oceana County, the small city of Hart has also been dreaming of a modest skate park. The City Council matched a $5000 Tony Hawk grant on July 23, to keep the dream alive. The Tony Hawk Foundation was created by skateboarding legend Tony Hawk. Hart purchased about $7000 worth of skate park equipment from the city of Saline a few years ago. These assets are gathering dust in storage. The city is waiting to hear from the skate park committee, and hopes to revitalize the plan. Their estimate of cost is about $100,000.

Scottville, Ludington's neighbor to the east, has also been dreaming of a skate park since 2005, although it has not been addressed in a meeting of the Parks and Recreation Committee recently. Mayor Leon Begue says, "We still want to do it; it's all about the money." A new playground was installed in June at McPhail Field, and the committee may now turn its fundraising efforts toward the skate park.

by Joan H. Young

See Ludington Skate Park Virtual Tour
Ludington Holds Groundbreaking for Stearns Skateboard Park
These links are checked on the date of the article. As the article ages, some links may become invalid.

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See Stearns Park
See Scottville

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Road End Public Access Changes- Good or Bad?

Traditionally when roads end at bodies of water the public has been allowed access, so what's all the fuss about this new legislation?

In June the Michigan House passed legislation increasing the scope of public access to bodies of water from the ends of public roads.

Yet, over the years, numerous court rulings have established the principle that public streets terminating at the edge of navigable waters are usually deemed to provide public access to the water. So, what's the big deal?

The bigger debate this time is what can be built at those access points and who would be in charge of them. House Bill 4463 states that a marina can be built by a local government at the end of any public road which terminates at a body of water of over 2500 acres. They can also issue permits for seasonal private docks. This means that township governments could build large docks with boat hoist facilities, making it difficult for private citizens to carry in their canoes, or let the kids take a quick swim. Yet Bill 4464 increases the rights of the public to include lounging, sunbathing, and picnicking, all land-based activities.

On the other side of the debate, the legislation clarifies that surrounding property owners can not put up "no trespassing signs" just because they would like to keep the lake access private.

one user group with a lot at stake are those who live near a lake, but not in the first tier of homes on the waterfront. Called "backlotters," some people believe that this legislation will allow them to seize road ends and make them essentially private beaches.

Exempt from this legislation is property owned by the State of Michigan.

The Detroit News quoted Houghton Lake property owner Marty Prehn, this is "only the beginning of a long and winding road. All it's going to do is open up a Pandora's box and have litigation over every one of these road ends."

Hamlin Lake, in Mason County, would be affected by this ruling. At 5000 acres, it has over 75 road ends which terminate at the lake. Property owners complain that they are regularly cleaning up messes left by the public. Some road ends have steep slopes and serious erosion would result from using them as boat ramps.

The Ludington Daily News reported that the Mason County Road Commission managing engineer, Gary Dittmer said "the issue is a constant source of irritation... but he does not think the bills will alleviate any problems."

by Joan H. Young
Read the text of House Bill 4463
Read the text of House Bill 4464
Read more in the Ludington Daily News
These links are checked on the date of the article. As the article ages, some links may become invalid

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See Hamlin Marsh

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Non-Motorized Transportation Wish Lists

MDOT facilitates a Northwest Michigan Regional Non-Motorized Transportation Plan and Investment Strategy
MDOT alternate transportation meeting
participants study a map for trail opportunities
left- Patty O'Donnell of NWMCOG; center- Jim Clark, Lake County Commissioner, right- Les Russell, National Forest Service
Michigan Department of Transportation has identified northwest Michigan as an area ready to develop non-motorized transportation possibilities. They seek development of a comprehensive plan and identification of priority projects.

In other words, MDOT wants to help build and connect trails. Trails as transportation corridors can include uses such as hiking, bicycling, skiing, rollerblading, horseback riding, etc. Not all trails have to be multi-use, but they must be non-motorized to be included in this plan. The pool of funds available to build trails requires that the trails funded have connections which allow it to serve as a transportation corridor. For example, children might use this path to walk or ride bikes to school.

This week, Patty O'Donnell, the Regional Planner for the Northwest Michigan Council of Governments, met on separate occasions with representatives from Manistee, Mason and Lake Counties. At each meeting the individuals pored over a large county map which showed available trails. People were then encouraged to wield colored markers and use their imaginations to dream and mark up the map with a wish list of non-motorized trail connections.

There were 12 local representatives, mostly from the various townships, who participated in the Mason County meeting. High on their wish list was extension of the Hart-Montague Rail Trail to Ludington, and making it possible to bicycle safely from downtown Ludington to Scottville, and to West Shore Community College.

At the Lake County meeting District 6 Commissioner, Jim Clark, and Les Russell of the Manistee National Forest dreamed of providing more trails within the National Forest, and extending the Pere Marquette Rail Trail of Mid-Michigan west from Baldwin.

The Northwest Michigan Council of Governments (NWMCOG) will take this information and prepare for and host educational meetings with the public to document interest in these projects, and it will then prepare for and facilitate a regional Trails Summit.

The NWMCOG includes Antrim, Benzie, Charlevoix, Emmet, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, Lake, Leelenau, Manistee, Mason, Missaukee, Osceola, and Wexford Counties.

Funding for projects will come from Transportation Enhancement money. These funds are now known as SAFETEA-LU. Not all trail projects are eligible to use these funds, but many are, and better use of this resource would enhance recreation throughout the area.

by Joan H. Young
See Northwest Michigan Council of Governments
learn more about Transportation Enhancement money at American Hiking Society
Contact Patty O'Donnell, Regional Planner, Northwest Michigan Council of Governments
These links are checked on the date of the article. As the article ages, some links may become invalid

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See Mason County
See Lake County

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Manistee Drowning - What Should You Do in a Rip Current

Death of 15-year-old highlights the need for knowledge of how to respond if you are caught in a rip current, also known as undertow.

Wednesday afternoon the wind was blowing at about 12 mph; the waves were 4-6 feet high. Possibly many teenagers decided it was a great day for an exciting swim in Lake Michigan. But for two of them, this was a fateful decision.

The boys, one 15, the other 16, were swimming at Manistee's Fifth Avenue Beach. It's the all too familiar story... they got out too far and one of the boys was caught by the wave action and pulled even farther from shore. His friend managed to swim in and immediately called 911 and the other boy's family. The younger boy was recovered about 30 minutes later, and could not be revived.

Rip currents, formerly known as undertow, are caused when water rushes away from shore in a narrow path. This happens when various barriers - a sand bar, jetty, anything - divert the water. They most often occur after storms as temporary currents, but permanent currents may be found in many locations. They can extend for hundreds of feet and travel at up to 3 mph. They can be 100 feet wide, but rarely exceed 30 feet.

Did this tragedy need to happen? Possibly not. Here are some safety tips for swimming in large bodies of water.
  • Number 1 - Don't swim when red warning flags are present or when you see the following conditions:
    • if you see different stripes of water color - the colors may indicate stirred sediments or different depths (and thus a channel of water movement)
    • if you see a difference in waves - large choppy waves farther offshore while all is calm near shore may indicate currents
    • if you see foam or floating objects heading steadily away from shore
    • if you see a plume of muddy water outside of a sandbar
  • Don't panic, don't panic, don't panic
  • Don't try to swim against the current. Remember that these currents are usually narrow, and swim parallel to the shore to exit the current.
  • If you are unable to swim out of the current, just float and ride it out till it dissipates. This will usually be just outside the line of wave formation. Then swim diagonally to shore.

Finally and primarily, know your swimming capabilities and use your head first!

from the Ludington Daily News, July 12, 2007 See safety tips at NOAA
These links are checked on the date of the article. As the article ages, some links may become invalid.

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See Manistee Riverwalk

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Manistee Includes Recreation in Strategic Plan

Manistee outlines future goals, makes plans

On July 10 the Manistee City Council outlined some of its goals for the future and listened as members of the Manistee County Board of Commissioners and Little River Band of Ottawa Indians commented on those goals and plans to reach them.

"We're seeking input from our stakeholders, which tonight include the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians and the Manistee County Board of Commissioners," Mitch Deisch, Manistee city manager, said before the meeting.

The council has worked to develop a strategic plan for 2007, 2008 and 2009 with the goal of bringing prosperity to the community.

Specific goals pertaining to recreation are to make the city's beaches the cleanest on Lake Michigan and improve access to the beaches, and to establish a countywide recreation association.

A suggestion came from the floor that it would be nice if the city could buy Man-Made Lake and improve access there, and buy railroad property for recreational use.

excerpted from the Ludington Daily NewsJuly 11, 2007- see FAIR USE notice
Contact Cyndy Fuller, Mayor, Manistee
These links are checked on the date of the article. As the article ages, some links may become invalid

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See Manistee County

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Warning! Bear Crossing!

New road signs near Cadillac urge drivers to watch for bear crossings. Although this is Wexford County, it's not far away from the area covered by this site.
bear crossing sign
New road signs installed on state highways in the Cadillac area will urge motorists to use extra caution and be on the look out for black bears crossing the road. Similar to the familiar "deer crossing" signs seen frequently along Michigan roadways, the "bear crossing" signs have been erected in areas known for high incidences of bear-car traffic accidents, Department of Natural Resources wildlife officials said.

The signs have been placed on the northbound lane of M-115, just north of Division Street; and on the southbound lane, just south of 32 Road. Other signs have been placed at M-55 in the westbound lane just past the corner of the 35 Road and Pole Road intersection, as well as in the eastbound lane of M-55 at 21 Road. They are believed to be the first "bear crossing" signs posted in the state.

"These signs should help us reduce the amount of bear-car accidents that happen along these stretches of highway that cross through frequently used bear habitat," said William Moritz, chief of the Wildlife Division. "This should improve safety in this region. We hope motorists take note of the signs and exercise more caution when traveling in this area, which is a main corridor for bear movement because of the nutrient-rich wetlands along the two roadways. We would like to thank the Michigan Department of Transportation for their cooperation in making these signs and posting them quickly."

In the last five years, the DNR has recorded 11 bears hit and killed by cars along M-115 and M-55 west of Cadillac. Numerous other "close calls" have also been reported.

from the Michigan DNR
These links are checked on the date of the article. As the article ages, some links may become invalid

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See Manistee County

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Ludington Forms Parks Advisory Board

An advisory committee has been set up to review parks in the city of Ludington. This will allow for more public participation in the future of recreational facilities.

The goal of the committee is to enhance the current park system and develop ideas for the future. Councilor Kaye Ferguson-Holman wholeheartedly supports the creation of the committee saying there are a lot of people who really care about the parks in Ludington and serving on the committee will give them a chance to provide input.

The council will appoint private citizens who have knowledge and/or strong interest in area parks and open spaces to serve on the committee. At least one member of the committee will be appointed from the City Planning Commission. There will be a total of seven members.

The committee will report to the existing Cemetery, Parks, and Recreation Committee.

Councilor Paul Peterson cast the lone vote against the committee. Peterson voiced the opinion that such an advisory group would set unachievable goals.

by Joan H. Young

Contact Greg Dykstra, Chairman, Cemetery, Parks and Recreation Committee
These links are checked on the date of the article. As the article ages, some links may become invalid

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See Ludington

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

New Scottville Playground Open

Scottville playground
wrapped in orange fencing, delivered but not quite ready
The new Scottville playground being installed at McPhail Field looked gift-wrapped in orange plastic fencing, but lonely as it awaited the final stages of installation last week. The unit was delivered, and placed on its wood-chip filled base.
Scottville Playground
ready for play!
The finishing touches were applied and an official ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Monday afternoon with a pack of kids on hand to try it out.

Dedicated volunteers worked hard, and Scottville organized several local fundraising projects to raise money for this unit. Two Golf Outings brought in funds, the Scottville Area Business Association supported the project, and there were private donations.

The playground includes swings, toddler swings, a mini "rock" wall, two wavy slides and a toddler slide, and various climbers. There is a picnic table provided for adult seating nearby.

The playground is readily visible at the east end of McPhail Field by the tennis courts.

by Joan H. Young

Go To for all the news
See Scottville

Monday, July 2, 2007

E-Coli Count Closes One Local Beach

The Silver Creek Outlet Beach off Lighthouse Drive in Oceana County's Golden Township is currently closed due to an E. coli count of 626 colonies per 100 mililiters of water. Closure occurs when a count exceeds 300. This beach is located where the Silver Lake outlet reaches Lake Michigan.

Samples were taken by Mark Hill of District Health Department 10 in Oceana County. As of 2003, local health departments which perform beach water quality sampling are required to report beach testing results to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

Water samples are regularly taken on Mondays with the results known on Tuesdays.

E. coli contamination usually indicates the presence of fecal matter, usually from sewer overflows, storm runoff, or even animal droppings such as seagulls.

Persons coming in contact with water with high E. coli may develop abdominal cramps, diarrhea, vomiting, and a low-grade fever. Symptons appear one to two days after exposure and can last for about five days.

E. coli counts at local beaches on July 2 were as follows:

from the Ludington Daily News
Check the E. coli count at any monitored beach at the DEQ web site
These links are checked on the date of the article. As the article ages, some links may become invalid

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See Swimming

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Deadly VHS Hits Lake Michigan Fish

Viral hemorrhagic septicemia was confirmed in a dead brown trout that washed ashore in Wisconsin

Wisconsin wildlife officials confirmed a deadly fish disease in Lake Michigan, while their Michigan counterparts are researching suspected diseased fish closer to home.

Viral hemorrhagic septicemia was confirmed in a dead brown trout that washed ashore near the Kewaunee/Algoma area in Wisconsin. That marks the first discovery of the disease in Lake Michigan.

Samples also being tested and suspected of being contaminated with VHS came from northern areas of Lake Michigan like Green Bay, as well as southern sites near Arcadia in Manistee County and Grand Haven, Whelan said.

"We don't know what the effect of VHS will be on our fish communities because no one has any experience with this disease and this isolate (genetic type of the disease) in fresh water. It could kill a substantial number of some fish species in some life stages, but we don't know which ones it will affect," Whelan said.

The disease causes internal bleeding in fish and spreads when live fish or contaminated water is moved to new waters.

Discovery of VHS in Lake Michigan signifies a real threat to a fishery that provides countless hours of recreation for anglers and contributes significantly to the state economy, said Donna Stine, interim executive director for Michigan United Conservation Clubs. "This is not a small issue or a problem that's simply going to go away."

On June 28 the DNR began implementing regulations designed to slow the spread of VHS. These measures for the fish species listed in the Control Order include emptying live wells and bilge water from boats when leaving the water, and not moving bait or releasing fish in unconnected water bodies. Bait dealers must inform anglers where uncertified (to be disease free) bait can be used. For full regulations see the DNR web site (link below).

The disease is believed to have reached the Great Lakes through the dumping of untreated ballast water from ocean-going ships, the same route thought to be traveled by other exotic invaders to North America's freshwater inland seas.

read the entire article in the Traverse City Record Eagle- see FAIR USE notice
read an entire article in the June 30, 2007 Ludington Daily News- see FAIR USE notice
see full Fish Disease Control Order Michigan DNR
These links are checked on the date of the article. As the article ages, some links may become invalid

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See Fishing
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