Full Aquatic Plant Survey of Torch Lake
You can tell a lot about a lake by looking at the “seaweed” growing in it. Torch Lake, for instance, is home to many different species of aquatic plants. Most are native and beneficial, but some are invasive and unwanted. What exactly they all are and where exactly they are all growing is the subject of an Aquatic Plant Survey being conducted this fall on Torch Lake.
Thanks to a generous donation from the Dole Family Foundation, a joint team from TLA and TLPA have engaged Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council to complete this survey.
Water resource specialists from Tip of the Mitt will examine the entire perimeter of the lake, looking for all plants growing from the shore out to a depth of about 30 feet. Patches of underwater vegetation are located by drone; field workers in a boat then take actual plant samples.
As of late September, the team had already spent eight days on the lake and examined plant growth at 136 sample points. In general, plants were found in areas where the depth dropped off along the shorelines or near obstructions (for instance fish cribs, the old boiler, etc.). Most of the substrate on Torch Lake is not suitable for plants to grow, so it appears that obstructions and drop-offs provide a catch point for sediment and nutrients that help plants grow. An online mapping system is being utilized to document all observations including the species, location, and size of the plant bed.
So far, 17 different species of aquatic plants have been identified, most of them various species of native pond weeds and Chara. One unwelcome invader identified is Eurasian watermilfoil (EWM), an invasive plant that can out-compete native plants and spread rapidly. It can quickly become a serious problem, as it has in several northern Michigan lakes.
Only one previously unknown colony of EWM has turned up as a result of the survey. This patch and three other known patches of EWM are being chemically treated this fall by PLM Land and Lake Management, a highly-respected company that has been treating EWM in the Chain of Lakes for years. A joint TLA-TLPA volunteer team will then monitor these sites to see if additional or alternative treatment is necessary next year.
Meanwhile, the Aquatic Plant Survey work continues. Survey results will be a valuable addition to the growing Torch Lake database being created to provide a robust method of keeping track of our water quality measurements, aquatic plant life findings, treatment actions and results, and how our lake is changing over time.
This article was created in collaboration with Three Lakes Association. A version of this article will also run in their newsletter
RV Park at Torch River Update
The Milton Township Planning Commission (PC) by unanimous vote on July 13, 2021 rejected the special use permit (SUP) for the development of an 80-site RV park between Torch River Road and Miller Road.
Their decision was preceded by public comment concerning the potential impact on the environment, and traffic and congestion in an already busy area during the summer months. An engineering firm was hired by the township to study the proposed park and evaluate its impact on the area. Beckett & Raeder, Inc. determined the plan was topographically challenged and recommended that the SUP be rejected. Torch Elk Skegemog Association (TESA), along with TLPA, funded the environmental impact studies that were provided to the PC. Many area residents and property owners voiced their concerns as well, all of which resulted in the decision to reject the SUP.
There have been significant events and activity both before and after the July 13 decision.
Vegetation clearing at the site began in early 2020 and continued into 2021, which allowed heavy runoff of sediment from a July 2020 rainstorm and another on August 10, 2021. This brought a lawsuit against the developer by an adjacent neighbor for damages. The site clearing that created this situation was done illegally; it was based on permits issued by the Antrim County Soil Conservation District without the required township SUP approval for the project.
In early July 2021, TESA filed suit in Antrim County Circuit Court against the RV park developer and the Antrim County Conservation District to protect the natural resources and public trust from ongoing pollution, impairment, and destruction and violating the Michigan Environmental Protection Act. An injunction was pursued on July 19, with agreement that TESA and their representatives would be involved and provide remediation plan suggestions to be incorporated at the site. This has not occurred. Instead, the developer simply continued development of the park in the name of remediation. Two clearly visible examples of this are the significant changes to the property entrances on both Torch River Road and Miller Road. TESA’s legal council is attempting to return to court to address this violation of court orders. It is likely that court-ordered mediation will be the outcome.
On August 26, 2021, the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy, (EGLE) issued the developer a violation for runoff into the wetlands east of Torch River Road that occurred on August 10th, 2021. The RV park developer has appealed the PC decision rejecting the original 80-site plan in Antrim County Circuit Court. This has yet to go to trial. On October 8, the developer submitted a new request for a SUP for a 70-site
RV park at the current location. TESA is already engaged in legal and engineering review of the the new proposal with the goal of once again stopping the project from being approved.
TESA is a Corporate “C” non-profit, and contributions are not tax deductible. If you are interested in supporting them in their opposition to the RV park, please see the options below.
Reference: TESA; Complete necessary information. This payment method is secure. For contributions by MAIL: Make check out to Olson, Bzdok & Howard, P.C. Write 6351 or TESA on the memo line. Mail to: Olson, Bzdok & Howard, P.C.,420 East Front St., Traverse City, MI 49686. Tracking is advised for large checks.
If you wish to contribute by phone OR if you have any questions, call 231-946-0044.
Boat Launch at South End of Torch
The DNR’s plans to expand the boat launch at the south end of Torch Lake on property they purchased last year did not progress this summer as anticipated. Beckett and Raeder, Inc. was designated the lead engineering firm to develop the design. The DNR is currently waiting for a quote package to be prepared for demolition and removal of several buildings on the property. At the rate things are progressing, this launch may be several years away from becoming operational. We will keep you updated on developments.
Torch Lake Tiki
During this past summer, a riparian non-resident property owner on Crystal Beach Road adjacent to the Division Street road-end began operating a business. He called it Torch Lake Tiki and was selling food on the sandbar from his food barge (which he stocked from the Crystal Beach property) and renting watercraft from a trailer on the property, from his dock, or towing them with his jet ski to the boat launch. He also brought in a porta john for his employees, as the residence was rented out. Local neighbors and TLPA opposed this business in an R-1 zoned property, and they voiced their opposition to township officials. If allowed to continue, this could set a precedent for similar summer businesses on other properties around the lake.
Township officials agreed that this business violated local ordinances, and they are pursuing legal action with a cease and desist order. TLPA will continue to monitor developments on this issue.
TLPA Board of Directors
- Alisa Carroll, President
- Dave Martin, Vice President
- Bob Milliron, Secretary
- Norm Neuenschwander, Treasurer
- Rick Welsh
- Kathy Shumrick
- Bruce Hulteen
- Randy Asmus
- Dave Nussdorfer
- Tom Joseph
Why Are You Here?
It was a warm and sunny August day in 1963 and a ten-year-old girl sported a smart brown checkered two piece and an equally smart bathing cap as she and her sisters splashed in the crystal-clear waters of Torch Lake. The cottage the family rented for their annual vacation perched on the edge of the sandbar where the sand underfoot was rock solid. The girls had the whole of the sandbar to themselves…not another person or boat in sight. Later in the day they would delight in watching the swinging bridge open for the rare boat too large to safely navigate below. That vacation began a nearly sixty-year love affair with Torch Lake. That girl was me. My family went on to purchase a home on the lake where memories were made with grandchildren, nieces, nephews and friends for more than 45 years. My husband and I continued the family legacy and have been homeowners on Torch for nearly 30 years. And we’ve been TLPA members since the beginning.
What does this story have to do with you? Well…why are you here? What brought you here? The crystal-clear waters? The rock-hard sand underfoot? The solitude? The slower lifestyle? A place to get away from it all? Why ARE you here? And more importantly what are you willing to do to ensure that the lake remains an amazing and valuable natural resource for generations to come?
Did you know that only 30 percent of homeowners on Torch Lake are members of the Torch Lake Protection Alliance? Thirty percent! So, the 30 percent work tirelessly volunteering or supporting the TLPA to carry the water…so to speak… for the other 70 percent who equally…equally…enjoy the beauty and solitude the lake has to offer. The seventy percent are not contributing to efforts to research and eradicate Eurasian watermilfoil or golden-brown algae or to challenge overdevelopment or clearcutting along the shoreline. You could see this 70 percent as an obstacle…or an opportunity.
What can you do? Plenty.
Volunteer with the TLPA. There are many opportunities from monitoring township activities to serving on TLPA committees. This can be as little as two hours a month.
Be a lake steward. Does your lawn really need to be that green? Don’t fertilize, or at least reduce the number of applications. Plant a lake buffer at your shoreline. It’s easy, enhances your property value and more importantly protects the lake from road or driveway runoff. Plant a rain garden to absorb excess runoff during heavy rains. Plant native plants that have deeper root systems that absorb negative nutrients and for a bonus attract pollinators! Don’t clear cut your lot.
Pump your septic. Have your septic system pumped and inspected at least every other year…more often if it’s located in a low water table area.
Make every homeowner on the lake a TLPA member. Most important…recruit your neighbors and friends… they will join if you ask them. It’s no secret that we have many new homeowners on the lake. This is a fantastic opportunity to share your love of the lake and the importance of being a part of the TLPA. And you don’t have to do it alone. TLPA board members are happy to assist you or do it all! If every TLPA member identified and/or recruited just two potential members think how quickly the 70 percent goes down to zero. And membership in the TLPA is the best bargain going these days. For less than $9 a month, members collectively make a dramatic difference in protecting our gorgeous and environmentally valuable natural resource.
Simple things make for great outcomes for our beautiful lake. Please don’t depend on someone else to make these things happen. Don’t pass the buck. This is everyone’s responsibility. Don’t be part of the problem…be part of the solution. Let’s hear from you! Contact Bruce Hulteen at email@example.com. Let’s get that 70 percent to zero and secure the legacy of Torch Lake for generations to come.
Pass the Torch
“Pass The Torch” is TLPA’s legacy program. It is your chance to get your children and grandchildren involved in protecting Torch Lake. Many of our children and grandchildren have grown up on Torch Lake and love it as much as we do. A membership in TLPA is a perfect holiday, birthday, or Christmas gift. By “Passing The Torch” you can start a lifelong legacy of caring for our special lake. Sign up a new member online at www.TLPA.CO or by mailing a $100
It’s that time of year again to renew your TLPA membership. We need you. We have important work to do, including finding the cause and remedy for Golden Brown Algae, controlling invasive species such as Eurasian watermilfoil, and dealing with the issues on our sandbars. In addition, we need to help educate landowners of the damage caused by excessive nutrients from lawn fertilizers and outdated septic systems. Each year new issues arise, such as the Milton Township RV park and the Torch Lake Tiki operation. These are all complicated issues; what they have in common is that they have an impact on Torch Lake and its riparians. Our current membership represents approximately one third of the property owners on Torch Lake. Truly, there is strength in numbers – that is why it is important for everyone on the lake to be a member.
So, what can you do? First, renew your current membership, then help us to recruit your neighbors and friends. Identify your neighbors who are not members, and we will help you with talking points and reasons for becoming a TLPA member. It is important that we all work together to protect this beautiful lake. If you are willing to assist us, please contact Bruce Hulteen at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 616-560-3952.
HOW DO YOU RENEW YOUR MEMBERSHIP?
- ONLINE at www.TLPA.CO. Look for the Renew Membership button. When you renew, please provide TLPA with your current email address so that we can save money (and trees) by corresponding with you electronically. THANK YOU for helping TLPA in saving both financial and environmental resources!
- Or via MAIL. You will be receiving mailed notices this Fall to renew your membership for 2022. You can either renew online at www.TLPA.CO as above or use the return envelope provided to MAIL in your check. TLPA also requests that you provide only one mailing address should you prefer to have information mailed to you. This address should be where you get your mail year-round. You can also email that information to our administrative assistant at email@example.com
Please renew as soon as possible. If you have any questions or concerns regarding the membership renewal process, contact Bruce Hulteen at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 616-560-3952.
Bruce Hulteen, Membership Chair
Keep Torch Lake Blue Signs
Thank you for your support of our “Keep Torch Lake Blue Don’t Fertilize” campaign. The campaign has been a big success and was a collaborative effort with TLPA, Three Lakes Association (TLA) and Torch Conservation Center (TCC). It is time to put your yard signs away for the winter. Please put them back out in the spring. If you need a new sign or have any questions, please contact Bruce Hulteen at email@example.com.
Taste of Torch 2021 Annual Meeting
Approximately 130 members and guests attended this year’s Taste of Torch Annual Meeting held under the new pavilion at A-Ga-Ming golf resort on Tuesday, August 3. Approval of the 2020 meeting minutes, election of board members, and review of the treasury report were presented to the group. A recap of TLPA actions over the last year was presented by board members Tom Joseph and Bob Milliron, followed by a question -and-answer period. Law enforcement was represented by Antrim County Sheriff Dan Bean, Kalkaska County Sheriff Pat Whiteford, and Michigan State Police Sgt. Dave Johnson. They provided a summary of sandbar activity and answered questions regarding the sandbar and other lake-related issues.
Support Our Business Members
- A-Ga-Ming Golf Resort
- Alden State Bank
- Barker Creek Nursery & Landscaping
- Birch Street Dental
- BlueFin Residential Services (BlueFin Custom Painting)
- Chemical Control Co.
- The Chief Golf Course/BluePelican
- Creative Characters Printing
- Don Fedrigon Re/Max of Elk Rapids
- Draper Construction, Inc.
- Echo Quality Grinding
- Elk Rapids Electric
- Fitzpatrick Insurance Agency
- Grace of Alden
- Kidd & Leavy Real Estate
- Lake Living Services, Inc.
- Mapleridge Construction
- Mico’s Torch Riviera
- Nicolas Halek Realtor-Coldwell Banker Schmidt Realtors
- North Country Power Generators
- Northshore Dock
- Pine Hill Nursery
- Short’s Brewing Company
- TCarea.com Realty
- Top Notch Heating, Cooling, and Geothermal
- Urban Diversions
- Village Market Food Centers