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Beacon Archive

August 2004
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News from the Townships

AmVets Fishing Tournament Scheduled for September 11th-12th

Staff Changeover at Beaver Island Community School

Fourth of July Golf Tournament a Big Hit

Marching in the Rain: A Forth of July few will forget

Dedicating the Town Clock

On This Date

Shipping out the Logs

Concert on the Harbor

Sunset Picnic August 15th

Inland Seas Kayaking Inland Seas Eco-Tours

Art Show Success highlights Museum Week

A Wedding on the Beach

Volleyball Camp

Boyne Thunder Poker Race to Beaver

Recreation Resource Project Special Summary Report

One Hundred Years Ago

Sky Divers Return

Livingstone Studio's Meet the Artist

BIRHC Fashion Tea at Deerwood

B.I. Christian Church celebrates 41 years, honors Greggs

Camp Quality on Beaver

Trouble with the Bridge

BIRHC Benefit Dinner September 17th at Nina's

Go Wendy!


Beaver Island Recreation Resource Project: A Study of the State Lake Michigan Shoreline Tracts
August 2004 Special Summary Report for the Beaver Beacon by Jack Kelly

This study assesses the eleven tracts of state land on the Lake Michigan shoreline of Beaver Island, Michigan, and proposes short- and long-term plans for each. The entire 32-page report is available in the public library and township offices. It has been distributed to local government bodies and voluntary organizations, and can be made available to other individuals and organizations that need ongoing access for their own plans and programs.

These public lands on Beaver Island are a unique public resource of scenic beauty, outdoor recreation potential, and ecological preservation. Properly cared for, they are part of the potential for Beaver Island to be a natural wonder of the area, both preserved and enjoyed for generations to come.

The full report contains a set of GIS maps and overlays provided by the Central Michigan University Biological Station and the Charlevoix County GIS office, as well as other maps and satellite photos adapted for this study. Some are available on the county web site. The full display for each tract includes topographical maps, satellite photos, aerial photos, and on-site photos. A limited selection is reproduced in this summary. The assessment and recommended plans for each site are based on the fuller data set.

Shoreline Tracts in the Study:
GIS overlays of wetlands, drainage, and topography, as well as satellite and high-altitude aerials of the Island, are in the full report. The summaries presented below and on the following pages condense the discussion of the features and plans for each tract. GPS coordinates are also omitted here.

The adapted Cashman-Wojan map (Figure 1) identifies the tracts beginning in the Northwest corner of the Island and moving counter-clockwise.

1. McCauley's Point
2. Bonners' Bluff
3. Oliver's Point
4. South McFadden's Point
5. North Mill

French Bay Tract A
French Bay Tract B

7. Cheyenne Point
8. Cable's Creek
9. Cable North
10. Martin's Point
11. Luney's Point
Click on any Tract on the Map above (or the list to the left) to see details on that Tract

Approximate dimensions are in east-west and north-south directions with straight-line shoreline estimates.

The topographical features identified on the Terraserver satellite photo (Figure 3) show the Island to be relatively flat. There are major dune areas on the northwest shoreline around Donegal Bay, on the west side at McFadden's Point, and at the south end around Iron Ore Bay, along with other smaller dune sites. Wetlands are found throughout the Island with concentrations tied to inland lakes. Upland forests are primarily on the west side and lowland on the eastern half. Critical soil drainage is also found primarily in the eastern half with major marshland adjacent to Lake Genesereth and a string of inland sites mostly up the center of the Island.

For the purposes of this study, it is significant that the ecologically fragile areas are, for the most part, not on the public shoreline tracts. The two exceptions are the two major dunes. There are, however, site-specific localized areas subject to changing conditions, sometimes from beaver activity. Miller's Marsh is a fragile area under study by CMU.
Other Public Shoreline Tracts: Several other public sites include two campgrounds, two lighthouses, and three beaches. More recent development is at Gull Harbor and the Whisky Point Lighthouse.

The project was proposed and approved by the Beaver Island Property Owner's Association in the summer of 2002. It was further endorsed by the township boards and Chamber of Commerce. Dr. James Gillingham, Director of the CMU Beaver Island Biological Station, supported the grant application, provided available Island overlays, and agreed to further support by station faculty. A grant was awarded by the Great Lakes Aquatic Network and Fund of Petosky, Jill Ryan, Director. This has primarily supported publications costs for the Draft and final reports. In the spring and early summer of 2003, sources of data were further identified and various GIS themes combined. CMU summer faculty Drs. Beth and Ed Leuck provided on-site evaluations and photographs. Aerial photos were taken by Jeff Cashman from the Kelly Cessna. A draft report was produced and distributed in late summer 2003 for comment by Island organizations and government bodies, state agencies, and other organizations, especially those with expertise on freshwater land-water habitats. A public hearing was advertised and held in late summer.

Comments and suggestions have been incorporated into the final report coordinated by Dr. John R. (Jack) Kelly, Professor Emeritus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Summer address: Box 382, Beaver Island, MI 49782. Phone: 231 448-2524. E-mail:

Particular thanks are due to Drs. Beth and Ed Leuck of Centenary College and CMU, Dr. Jim Gillingham, Erin McDonough who assisted in the inauguration of the project, Jeff Cashman for photography and formatting, Chris Blough of the Charlevoix County GIS office, the Beaver Island Property Owners' Association, Pam Grassmick, President, and especially Jill Ryan and the Great Lakes Aquatic Network and Fund. This public land is a resource of incalculable value to the Island and the state. Careful planning by the Island townships, the county, and the state can allow Beaver Island to be a model of preservation and recreational enjoyment. The tract-by-tract summary suggests how this resource can be loved and shared in ways that will continue to attract visitors and residents to this wonderful place.

Possible Priorities:

  1. Continue to work with volunteers to locate, clear, and sign existing trails. A beginning has been made in locating current trails with GPS coordinates and trailhead signs. The combination of township and voluntary engagement is an excellent model.

  2. Bonner's Bluff beach: Pursue plans to obtain public access to this lovely site near town.

  3. French Bay: Develop an access and site plan for this special south end site.

  4. Luney's Point: Restore the walking trail and explore possible harbor-view picnic sites.

  5. Martin's Bluff: Monitor use and impacts on the high dune.

These and other priorities should be part of an overall plan, for which this study can provide a base.

If Island residents are serious about both conservation and a measured development of the second-home and tourism economy, such a comprehensive plan should be supported through the channels of the voluntary organizations and public officials. MDNR cannot be expected to take the lead in this process due to staff and funding limitations.

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