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.”