Category Archives: Community Projects

Phragmites Project

Slowly but surely, we’re headed for a “maintenance” process of the invasive reed, phragmites, on Bestie Bay. Anytime I’m headed toward Elberta I always take a “rubber-necking” gander to see how the phragmites stands we’ve been working on are changing. Good news, THEY ARE…. Many are only re-sprouting from within the deeper stands, and each year, we’re  attracting more property owners on the bay side of Lake Street to sign up for treatment, which helps radically! There’s another interloper, the invasive cattails (Typha angustifolia), which are glad for the reduced competition and clearly are expanding into the former phragmites infestation areas. Not so great when any monoculture takes over an area but clearly cattails are less detrimental to the ecosystem as compared to phragmites. A constant reminder in this process is the long term need to continue our efforts because the Betsie River is quite infested with phragmites stands and this means we’ll be constantly looking at new outbreaks. This year we gained two new property owners and the Grand Traverse Band of Chippewa and Ottawa Indians. THANK YOU to ALL the property owners that have invested in the value of treatment for the healthy ecosystems on their properties!


Earth Day – (well just about)

10:00 am – 10:30am or ?? when it’s clean
Start: Elberta Farmers’ Market Pavilion
End: When Trail & Beaches are cleaned!
Bring: Friends, Neighbors, Gloves, and Enthusiasm
We’ll Provide: Coffee and Goodies

Friends of Betsie Bay have been dedicated stewards of the Bay area for 13 years. We facilitate clean up efforts both in the spring and fall, partnering with the Alliance for the Great Lakes.

FoBB cares deeply about area land use issues, invasive species, and celebrating the natural beauty of this area. We support all community-based efforts to plan, preserve and protect the Betsie Bay area.

Rain, Sleet, or Snow… WON’T STOP US!!

Phrag Front

In our ongoing attempt to control phragmites, we had our 2nd annual treatment in late September with Wetlands & Wildlife Solutions, Vickie Smith, owner. When discussion the plan for this year’s focus, Vickie remarked we will likely see a much higher rate of re-growth next spring (2013), then we were able to see this spring. The best viewing is actually right along the Elberta bridge on M22. The Luedtke ‘Boneyard’ also received the first intensive treatment of their phragmites colonies. These areas will continue to be our main focus for years to come. As explained in our spring newsletter due to the large phragmites stands upriver, which is currently outside of our abilities to treat, we will always have a phragmites issue downstream in the Bay area.

There is a bright note to this rather depressing thought…we have new partners who are also interested/invested in doing what they can to address this large (estimated 1 acre) stand. Both the Nature Conservancy (TNC) and the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy (GTRLC) with some guidance of the Benzie Conservation District have completed the mapping to identify specifically where the phragmites are currently established. FoBB led our first Phrag Float in 2010 and began the mapping process. It was reported that those stands, two years later, don’t appear to have grown too much larger, which is excellent news given the drought conditions. Phragmites LOVE drought conditions on the waterways! Perhaps having ‘big guns’ on some larger grant opportunities may be the key to final beginning to address this area of concern. We are very grateful for their partnerships.

We were not able to get more than three private property owners to be willing to pay for their property’s phrag infestation and this is a concern that FoBB will be trying to address. Two of the property owners are new on the Bay and the third was Luedtke’s, at the Boneyard area. The first treatment, paid entirely with matching grant money in 2011, we had about 90% of the private property owners around the Bay give us their full support and permission to treat their properties until 2013. However, as we are all aware, grant funding is becoming more scarce as we struggle through these economically challenging times. Friends of Betsie Bay are committed to seeking all the financial possibilities we can to continue with our mission. We cannot do this without all of our help.

Successful and effective phragmites treatment of private property requires neighbors willing to work and talk together! We clearly understand the affects on personal property values of letting phrags go wild. When you cannot access your waterfront property through the phragmites, you lose value to your property. When the phragmites establish dense colonies on your property, you lose water and gain more area for more phrags to establish. This then becomes a neighborhood issue. The Friends of Betsie Bay are seeking your input for how we can be of assistance in effectively getting blocks of neighbors to at least engage in conversations about becoming good stewards of your waterfront properties. Please let us know if you have any ideas that may be helpful in this educational effort.

Troubled Bay Waters

As many of you will already know, there was an unprecedented action taken by the Michigan DNR to help preserve the already stressed salmon as they fought to make their way upstream for annual spawning in near record low waters due to our drought status and seriously low water table. This ban lasts for a period of 5 years and basically prevents fishing from the Elberta bridge to Northstar (Elberta) and across to Eastshore Marina (Frankfort).

Benzie County is one of 83 counties identified by the USDA, as meeting drought conditions. Lake Michigan levels in early fall were reported to be around 577.5 feet, it was a bit lower then than late last winter and many expect the lake levels to fall anywhere from 6 inches to 1 foot further this winter. The current record low for Lake Michigan was in March of 1964 and was around 576 feet. It is projected we will surpass this recorded low this winter.

So, what does this mean…? Well, when you get a bunch of fish dying in the Bay or struggling to find a channel deep enough to get upriver THAT tends to get folks attention, especially the fishing community and those that depend upon that economic-base for their livelihood. People started lots of conversations with the dire need for dredging.

This led to a well-packed meeting in October with State Rep. Ray Franz, several DNR representatives, local officials and many concerned citizens. First topic was a stipulation via Mr. Franz for creating a more immediate process for shutting down the fishing which now takes about 20 days of legal postings. Then the discussion of dredging and all of the unused Federal funding that was available for just this scenario began in earnest with the vast funds seemingly held captive by the Army Corps. Wiser, more experienced voices such as Luedtke Engineering Company’s, President, Kurt Luedtke, disavowed the crowd of thinking Federal dollars would be made available for Betsie Bay. Dredging is a hugely expensive endeavor that requires a great deal of planning and permitting. Dredging basically involves removing accumulated sediments in waterways to maintain depth, improve water quality or to remove other contaminants. Storage and proper disposal of these sediments must be addressed and can become a challenge. In the Great Lakes, dredging may be required due to wind and wave action, which deposits sandy sediments in harbor mouths. In other instances, dredging is conducted in response to soil erosion resulting from agriculture and development, in other words…human impact.

So, where does this leave us…? In speaking both with County Commissioner, Don Tanner, a well-known local fishing guide, and Kurt Luedtke can show us two lines of pretty clear direction…

· First, some potential short-term benefits of just letting nature work it’s course and recognizing there will always be this kind of fluctuation on any watershed but perhaps global climate change (Yup, you heard it here!) concerns are clearly showing watersheds are not ‘bouncing back’ as quickly as they have in the past.

· Second, constantly reminding ourselves this watershed, as all, are complex systems that encompass much more than just the water levels and struggling fish. We know clearly that invasive species such as phragmites affect the hydrology of the watershed and may also affect water levels contributing to the huge loss of native wetland plant species. We also know how much land use can effect watersheds with things such as nonpoint source pollution, which may derive from many upstream sources and be difficult to regulate or even known existing point source pollution that dumps directly into the water. We also know we can no longer be satisfied with efforts that just work on eradicating invasives or correcting pollution sources, we absolutely must make a commitment to RESTORATION of the Bay.

This is where the Friends of Betsie Bay get to have a ‘Pat ourselves on the Back’ moment! We have been living up to our mission statement of being good stewards of the Bay by currently addressing, as best we can, the phragmites on the Bay AND we’ve managed for about 12 years to work diligently in a legal battle of a land use issue for the proposed Tobin development. This a HUGE accomplishment and deserving of our recognition…!

Thank you all for working together to be on the front lines of the long work we’ve done and the road ahead. If you’re interested in being a part of thinking with us, sharing your thoughts or getting a bit more involved, please email us:




Start: Elberta Farmers’ Market Pavilion
End: When Trail & Beaches are cleaned!
Bring: Friends and Neighbors
Gloves and Enthusiasm

We’ll Provide: Coffee & Breakfast Bites

Friends of Betsie Bay have been dedicated stewards of the Bay area for 13 years. We facilitate clean up efforts both in the spring and fall, partnering with the Alliance for the Great Lakes.

FoBB cares deeply about area land use issues, invasive species, and celebrating the natural beauty of this area. We support all community-based efforts to plan, preserve and protect the Betsie Bay area.

Notification of Herbicide Application to Control the Invasive Phragmites in the Betsie Bay Area

Phramites the common reed

When the non-native common reed—which can reach up to 10-feet tall—becomes rooted along a water’s edge, it blocks light to other plants and inhabits much of the growing area, consequently creating a monoculture. Phragmites can multiply at an astonishing rate because it gives birth at both its head and its base. Seeds are airborne, while root systems spread along and below the ground upwards of 30-50 feet per year.

Wildlife and Wetlands Solutions will be applying herbicide to the Betsie Bay, Betsie Lake, and Betsie River shoreline to control invasive phragmites between Sept 24 and Oct 10, 2011. Our target date for this project is September 27th, but weather conditions must be conducive for a foliar spraying by a State licensed aquatic applicator from Wetlands and Wildlife Solutions, of Traverse City.

This collaborative effort for the 2011 season has been funded by several grants from the Nature Conservancy through the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy and the Cooperative Weed Management Area on behalf of the Friends of Betsie Bay. This will be the first of likely a 3-year project to control phragmites.

Phragmites is controlled using glyphosate, imazapyr, a surfactant and a tracer dye. Application will occur by foliar spraying with a backpack sprayer, by boat or using a tank sprayer with an ATV. Signs will be posted to all treated areas stating the date of application and listing water restrictions.

PLEASE NOTE: Water access is restricted for 24 hours during the application process to avoid contamination. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this may cause for the many fall recreational activities such as fishing, boating, etc. We’re hoping this minor inconvenience will be far out weighed by the future health of this bay area.

A risk/benefit statement concerning herbicide treatment is available at the municipal offices of Elberta, Crystal Lake & Gilmore townships and Frankfort. Or visit the Friends of Betsie Bay at Also check this edition of the Record Patriot’s legal ads for an abridged version of the statement. For more specific information on the herbicide application procedure or timing of application, please contact Wetlands and Wildlife at (231) 943-0762 or visit


23rd Friends of Betsie Bay’s
Earth Day Work & Play
Beach-to-Beach Clean up

27th: Invasive Species In Your Back Yard
Glen Lake Library, Empire, 6pm
Liz Padalino 882-4391

30th: Natural Shoreline Landscapes
Grand Traverse Conservation District, Boardman River Nature Center
9AM – 1PM

6th & 7th: FLOW for Water Coalition
Great Lakes Forever
Park Place & NMC’s Milliken Auditorium
Featuring: Maude Barlow, Wenonah Hauter,
Jim Olson, Jon Groveman, Terry Swier & music

Garlic Mustard Madness Events
5th: Pull Elisabeth Parr Preserve 10 am-12pm
6th: GPS Training & Scouting 10 am-12pm
Benzie County’s Railroad Point Preserve
Liz 882-4391 or
7th: Region Invasive Plant Awareness 10am-1pm
Trinity Lutheran Church, Frankfort
Workshops & Lunch

14th: Natural Shoreline Landscapes
Trinity Lutheran Church, Frankfort
9AM – 1PM

24th: Plant it Wild 7pm
Trinity Lutheran Church, Frankfort
Identification & Control of Non-native Invasives

SATURDAY, APRIL 23rd: 12th ANNUAL Beach-to-Beach Clean up 2011

friends of betsie bay beach to beach clean up

2009 Beach to Beach clean up crew.

Earth DayWork & Play on The Bay

Start: Elberta Farmers’ Market Pavilion
End: When Trail & Beaches are cleaned!
Bring: Friends and Neighbors, Gloves and Enthusiasm


Waterlife Documentary for the Benzie County Water Festival Kick-off

Waterlife at the Garden TheaterThe Friends of Betsie Bay are presenting the kick-off for the Benzie County Water Festival March 18-19. For the past twelve years Friends of Betsie Bay has been concerned about the quality and preservation of Betsie Bay and its surrounding land uses. Working in conjunction with organizations such as the Frankfort Tree Board and the Benzie Conservation District, the Friends are exploring areas of concern and local participation that will impact the Betsie Watershed. It is only natural that they would be sponsoring this film for the opening of the Water Festival.

Waterlife is an award-winning documentary that will further illuminate some of the ideas expressed in previous Record Patriot articles leading up to this Water Festival. That we should be concerned and engaged in the process of preservation is a given. How to do it and go about it will evolve as we all become better educated and inspired. Waterlife won the best documentary cinematography award in Canada and the Toyota Earth Grand Prize in the Tokyo International Film Festival in 2010. But, it is about our Great Lakes. It is “the story of the last great supply of drinking water on earth”.

Karen Roberts will introduce the film and explain the recent threat to Betsie Bay that she discovered while viewing the film. Additionally, The Friends of Betsie Bay work on annual beach clean ups, invasive species issues and undertakes cooperative and partnership projects with the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy, Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation, the Benzie County Water Council, Benzie Grand Vision, Northwest Michigan Council of Governments and the Northwest Michigan Cooperative Weed Management.

For the complete schedule of events for the Water Festival, please visit Download the Waterlife Event Poster.