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Portage Lake Wetland Purchased to Protect Water Quality

ONEKAMA, MICHIGAN --  Buoyed by old-fashioned generosity and community unity around protecting its watershed, the Portage Lake Watershed Forever Council successfully raised $37,000 to purchase and forever protect 2.4 acres of wetlands with 342 feet of frontage on Portage Lake. The property is being deeded to Onekama Township with restrictions to ensure the wetlands are protected as a filter of pollutants and as habitat for fish, birds and vegetation. The Manistee County Community Foundation assisted the Council by establishing a fund to accept charitable donations to purchase the property.

"When our community enthusiastically banded together to develop the plan for our watershed, we decided to call it the Portage Lake Watershed Forever Plan for good reason," said Dee Dee Miller, who led the fund raising campaign. "This watershed is a place of rejuvenation and tradition for families such as ours for nearly a century. It is both an obligation and an honor to walk the talk of our Plan and see that the sources that replenish and protect Portage Lake and its watershed are protected forever."

Miller said that the fundraising campaign began in mid-May and was officially wrapped up on June 6, just days before a purchase offer on the property was set to expire. Miller saw to it that donors were recognized in a temporary sign that has been erected near the site along M-22 at the east end of Portage Lake.

"We are grateful to the Watershed Council for their leadership in protecting this resource in perpetuity for the future," said Township Supervisor David Meister. "Onekama Township gratefully accepts the wetlands with our commitment and assurance to its protection and long-term care."

Members of the Watershed Council and greater Onekama Community joined together today at Feldhak Park to celebrate the historic accomplishment.

"Onekama is a place of collaboration and teamwork," said Mary Reed, Chair of the Portage Lake Watershed Forever Council.  "We are thankful for the major individual donors just as we are for the many small business in the Village of Onekama who got the message and contributed to protect these wetlands, our lake and our watershed.  It's important to reflect that this important work is being done here even while others debate the wisdom of state laws that protect wetlands and the thing that many of us hold dear: our clean and fresh Michigan water.  How fortunate we are to live in a community that is united around protecting and wisely using our Portage Lake watershed."


Related Info:  Planning in Northwest Lower Michigan


Reed said that the Watershed Council is also working to implement other provisions of its Plan, including support for Onekama Township and the Village of Onekama that are seeking funds through the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund to develop a system of parks with recreational opportunities for people of all ages, needs and abilities.

Our Township greatly benefits from Network Northwest's experience, depth of knowledge and understanding. Because they work with so many diverse communities in our ten-county region they understand the local land-use issues and are already working on solutions by the time we realize we need some help.
- Susan Odom, Chair, Suttons Bay Township Planning Commission