2016 Fall Newsletter

The Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council (NMEAC) is dedicated to preserving our natural environment through citizen action and education. Founded in 1980 we are the oldest grassroots environmental organization in the Grand Traverse region. This year we celebrated our 36th anniversary. As an all-volunteer organization we are working on a number of issues and wanted to share them with you.

OIL & WATER DON’T MIX CAMPAIGN
NMEAC has joined with over 20 environmental organizations in the state to call for a shut down of the Enbridge Line 5 oil pipelines at the Straits of Mackinac. This year we have participated in numerous rallies, film events, handed out yard signs and stickers and worked to raise public awareness of this issue. The coalition has elevated the risks posed by the 63-year Line 5 pipelines to a top tier statewide issue. Over 67 municipalities have signed resolutions calling for the shut down of Line 5 including the City of Traverse City and Grand Traverse County. Please go to oilandwaterdontmix.org for complete information.

NMEAC SOLAR INITIATIVE and TC100
NMEAC has been promoting the transition to solar energy for over seven years. This year the effort expanded into a new group called TC100. The group includes: Groundwork Center, TC350, Michigan Environmental Council, Citizens Climate Lobby and SEEDS. In October we co- sponsored a presentation on climate change by former Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell. We are also working with the City of Traverse City to set a goal of 100% clean energy in all city-owned buildings and facilities. In addition, NMEAC brought climate change activist Peter Sinclair to Traverse City twice in 2016. Peter’s well recognized “Climate Crock of the Week” and his numerous trips to Greenland have put him at the front of the climate change movement.

SPRAWL MAKES A COMEBACK
NMEAC voiced opposition to the ill-conceived plans for the 81 on East Bay development on the Old Mission Peninsula and helped support a new group called Preserve Old Mission. The development site includes steep ridges along East Bay and a spectacular woods running along the tops of those steep ridges. The developer wants to level the ridges to gain views of the Bay. We have also been involved with The Moorings development along M-72 near Tom’s West Bay. The developers recently received a violation notice from MDEQ concerning large amounts of sediment flowing to both wetlands on the site and into a local creek that empties into West Bay.

PINE STREET/RIVER WEST
NMEAC joined with concerned citizens in downtown Traverse City to file a circuit court appeal of a special land use permit approved by the city commission. We voiced concerns about setbacks from the Boardman River and contaminated soils at the site along with the size and scope of this huge project. Judge Phil Rodgers remanded the permit back to the city commission. We have expressed concerns about the required 10-foot setback along the Boardman and feel a zoning change is needed to a minimum of 25 ft. New developments along the river have stripped all trees, bushes and vegetation and threaten to turn the river into a channel running through town.

HOMESTEAD SEPTAGE ISSUE
Problems with the Homestead Resort’s septage system have been on NMEAC’s agenda since 1991. In recent years the resort has used a spray irrigation system to dispose of its septage on 11 acres of land within the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Local residents calling themselves The Drifters have continued to monitor spray drift onto adjacent lands and outside the boundaries of the spray area. Recently, NMEAC called for a public hearing when MDEQ was preparing a new five-year permit for the discharge. This was largely ignored and the permit was granted. We are still hopeful this issue can be resolved.

ENVIRONMENTALIST OF THE YEAR AWARDS & CELEBRATION
This is our biggest event of the year and we are proud to report the 2016 event at the Park Place Dome was among our largest in NMEAC history with over 225 people attending last April 22. We were extremely fortunate to have Liz Kirkwood, executive director of FLOW, as our guest speaker. Liz spoke about the urgency of the Line 5 issue at the Straits. NMEAC handed out 17 awards for environmental excellence in a number of categories. We are already in the planning stages for our April 21, 2017 event and will be accepting nominations for awards on January 1. Go to NMEAC.org to make nominations.

“We abuse land because we see it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community
to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.”
Aldo Leopold

October 6 | Mayor of Grand Rapids on Clean Energy

George Heartwell on Clean EnergyGeorge Heartwell will be speaking about clean energy on October 6 at 7 pm at the Central United Methodist Church.

Former Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell is coming to Traverse City to share his experiences at the Paris climate talks and to discuss how cities can take local action in the fight against global climate change.

Early in his tenure as Grand Rapids mayor, Heartwell saw the threat of climate change to his community and began working to mitigate climate impacts and to create a city infrastructure that will be resilient to those impacts. During his 12 years as mayor, Heartwell led the city to set a 100% renewable energy goal—the first in Michigan—and significantly reduce its carbon footprint through a variety of other measures.

The discussion will feature an introduction from Traverse City Mayor Jim Carruthers, as well as a closing panel discussion with Heartwell and local leaders.

The discussion is co-hosted with the Michigan Climate Action Network, TC350, Michigan Environmental Council, SEEDS, Michigan League of Conservation Voters, LIAA, NMEAC, and Citizens’ Climate Lobby.

Sponsored by Oryana Community Co-op, and Central United Methodist Church’s Creation Stewards Ministry.

UPDATE: TC100 (Green Energy Initiative)

NMEAC has been advocating for solar energy for the last seven years. Our work has now been joined by Groundwork, TC 350, Michigan Environmental Council and others to form the TC100 group. We have made several presentations at Traverse City Light & Power meetings urging them to move to clean energy (wind and solar). We will be continuing this effort into the fall by pressing for Traverse City to move to 100% clean energy for all municipal buildings. In addition, former Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell will be speaking about clean energy on October 6 at 7 pm at the Central United Methodist Church. NMEAC will also be bringing climate change activist Peter Sinclair to Traverse City on Oct. 26 at 6:30 pm at the Traverse Area LIbrary.

UPDATE: Oil & Water Don’t Mix Campaign

NMEAC has joined with over 25 environmental groups on this campaign to Shut Down Line 5 oil pipelines at the Straits. We have made great progress and have been successful in elevating this issue to much greater public awareness. NMEAC will be at the Straits on September 3 and the Annual Bridgewalk on September 5. Please visit the Oil & Water Don’t Mix.org website for all the latest information on this critical issue.

Environmentalist of the Year Awards | April 22 at 6pm

We look forward to you joining us at the 28th Annual Environmentalist of the Year Awards & Celebration to be held on Friday, April 22 from 6-9 pm at the Park Place Dome.

Our guest speaker will be Liz Kirkwood from FLOW. Liz has been one of the outstanding leaders of the Oil & Water Don’t Mix campaign to shut down the Line 5 oil pipeline at the Straits of Mackinac.

Awards will honor businesses, organizations and individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the protection of Northern Michigan’s environment.

We will be serving up a sampling of regional cuisine and adult beverages.

TICKETS ARE AVAILABLE AT THE DOOR | Park Place Dome, 300 E State St, Traverse City

Can you help us before April 7 (midnight) please?

 
Moosejaw x Patagonia

Challenge Thing!

Ends on Thursday, April 7th, before midnight…

We may be a small, all volunteer group, but NMEAC does have a powerful super hero, the Environmental Legacy Fund!  With the revolving Legacy Fund we can help community groups improve their local environmental challenges, and then replenish the Fund for the next challenge.

Join us!  Please, help grow the NMEAC Environmental Legacy Fund.  Click here to make any donation, no matter how big or small!

And then tell your friends  about the challenge so they can go to https://www.crowdrise.com/ChallengeThing

Be an amazing superhero in the next four days!! — the Challenge ends this Thursday, April 7, before midnight. Let’s get moving.
Click here now! Please…
     
Help the Legacy Fund to meet the next environmental challenge!

April 18 at 6 PM | Great Lakes, Bad Lines (the movie)

Traverse City–Discover the story of two Michigan adventurers and their 500-mile, fossil-fuel-free journey across the Upper Peninsula along the route of Line 5 – a 63-year-old pipeline – that threatens our inland waters and Great Lakes. Every day nearly 23 million gallons of oil flow through Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline located on the bottom of the Straits of Mackinac just west of the Mackinac Bridge. Join FLOW (For Love of Water) and Oil & Water Don’t Mix Campaign partners Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities, Michigan Environmental Council (MEC), Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council (NMEAC) and TC 350.org at the State Theatre in Downtown Traverse City for an evening of adventure and activism.

Screening at the State Theater
Address: 233 E Front St, Traverse City, MI 49684
Phone: (231) 947-4800

The screening will be followed by information and Q&A sessions with filmmakers Paul Hendricks & Colin McCarthy, film sponsor Bob Sutherland of Cherry Republic, and experts Jim Lively of Groundwork, Kate Madigan of MEC, and Liz Kirkwood of FLOW. The film tour is sponsored by Patagonia, Founders Brewing Co., Moosejaw, and Cherry Republic.

There will be an afterparty directly following the event at the Workshop Brewing Company with music by Brotha James.

April 18 * Traverse City, MI, 6pm @ State Theatre (after party at The Workshop Brewing Company)
Co-hosted by Oil and Water Don’t Mix

Traverse City and Ann Arbor: Event organizers: FLOW: Claire Wood or Liz Kirkwood, (231) 944-1568

Thursday, Feb. 11 at 6:30 | Solar Success Stories

solar-panels-worth-it-house_0529e35d526430a22af69d2820d9d1ca_3x2[1]NMEAC’s Solar Success Stories event will be held on Thursday, Feb. 11 at 6:30 at the Traverse Area Library.

Please join us and find out about the region’s latest solar installations along with energy expert Skip Pruss and Dan Worth from Groundwork Center on a new solar energy campaign in Traverse City and Frankfort.

Over the last five years NMEAC has been advocating for clean solar energy in the Grand Traverse region. We held four meetings to advocate for solar and wind energy with community stakeholders including: Traverse City Light & Power, city commissioners, the chamber of commerce, business leaders and many others. Energy expert Skip Pruss, from 5 Lakes Energy, helped facilitate these successful meetings. NMEAC continues to advocate for a move to 100% wind and solar energy in our region and is currently hosting a series of Solar Success Stories events to shine some light on many already successful solar projects. We are also very supportive of the new TC SHINES campaign at the Groundwork Center. This new campaign has goals to do 200 solar installations over the next year or two.

Call Greg Reisig at 231-264-8396, or write mail@NMEAC.org for more information

NMEAC News

The Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council (NMEAC) is dedicated to preserving our natural environment through citizen action and education. Founded in 1980 we are the oldest grassroots environmental organization in the Grand Traverse region. This year we celebrated our 35th anniversary, which is a major accomplishment for an all-volunteer organization. We are working on a number of issues and wanted to share them with you:

OIL & WATER DON’T MIX CAMPAIGN

NMEAC has joined with over 20 environmental organizations in the state to call for a shut down of the Enbridge Line 5 oil pipelines at the Straits of Mackinac. This year we have participated in numerous rallies, handed out yard signs, and worked to raise awareness of one of the biggest environmental issues in Michigan. The coalition has elevated the risk posed by the 62-year-old Line 5 pipelines from obscurity to a top tier state issue. We are proud to be working with our local partners at FLOW (for the love of water), the Groundwork Center and TC-350 on this incredibly important issue to all of us in northern Michigan.  Info: oilandwaterdontmix.org 

NMEAC SOLAR INITIATIVE

This year NMEAC held four citizen stakeholder meetings to advocate for solar and wind energy in our region. Participants included city commissioners, chamber members, business owners, Traverse City Light and Power, as well as community leaders. Skip Pruss, from 5 Lakes Energy, helped to facilitate these successful meetings. NMEAC continues to advocate for 100% wind and solar energy in our region. We will also hold several events this fall and winter to recognize a number of successful solar projects in the Grand Traverse area. 

SPRAWL MAKES A COMEBACK

NMEAC spoke out regarding ill-conceived development along M-72 west at The Moorings and joined with adjacent resident groups in opposing an MDEQ permit to fill wetlands for an access road at this site behind Tom’s West Bay. In addition, we joined with the Watershed Center in expressing concern about huge sediment runoffs into Acme Creek from the sprawling Village at Grand Traverse development along M-72 just east of Acme.

BOARDMAN LAKE SETBACKS

NMEAC joined with the Watershed Center to take legal action in circuit court to reverse a Traverse City Zoning Board of Appeals ruling which granted a setback variance for a developer along the west side of Boardman Lake. Even though city ordinances call for a 50 feet setback from the lake, the city ZBA granted a variance to reduce the setback to 25 feet. The circuit court heard the case and reversed the ZBA ruling. Concerns also remain about the city’s setbacks from the river in the downtown area.

LITTLE BETSIE WETLANDS

Six years ago, NMEAC joined with Interlochen Center for the Arts and adjacent residents near Interlochen to file legal action in circuit court to deny an MDEQ permit to fill wetlands for a road to a small, four-lot development. These important wetlands are near the Little Betsie River. The court heard arguments from long-time NMEAC attorney Jim Olson and, eventually, remanded the permit back to MDEQ. This fall action on the case resumes with a hearing before an administrative law judge in Lansing. The developer must prove there are no prudent and feasible alternatives to his small development in an important wetland area.

HOMESTEAD SEPTAGE ISSUE

Problems with the Homestead Resort’s septage system have been on NMEAC’s agenda since 1991. In recent years the resort has used a spray irrigation system to dispose of its septage on 11 acres of National Park Service land. Local residents and watchdogs calling themselves The Drifters have monitored the spray system and found that spray often drifts beyond the designated area onto adjacent lands that are part of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. NMEAC has called for a public hearing on a new MDEQ permit that continues to allow spray drift to reach public lands. We hope the hearing will be held this fall in Glen Arbor.

ENVIRONMENTALIST OF THE YEAR AWARDS & CELEBRATION

This is our biggest event of the year and we are proud to report the 2015 event at the Park Place Dome was our largest in NMEAC history with over 225 people attending last April. We were fortunate to have Skip Pruss, from 5 Lakes Energy, as our guest speaker on climate change and the urgent need to transition to wind and solar energy. NMEAC handed out 17 awards in a wide variety of fields for outstanding environmental work.

We are already in the planning stages for our April 22, 2016 event, which will feature Liz Kirkwood, executive director of FLOW, as our guest speaker. Liz is one of the brightest, shining stars of the environmental community and she will be speaking about efforts to shut down the Line 5 oil pipelines at the Straits as well as water as a public trust.

Beginning January 1 we will be accepting nominations for the 2015 awards.