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Michigan Dept of Natural Resources and Environment Honored with 2010 BoatUS Recreational Boating Access Award for Eight Point Lake Boating Access Site
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LANSING, Mich. January 19, 2011 -- Small lakes can have public boating access, too. That’s one important lesson learned with the 2009 opening of the Eight Point Lake Boating Access Site in Clare County. How the boat ramp and barrier-free launch site with parking for 22 vehicles and boat trailers came into existence, however, is also a lesson in public persuasion, planning and perseverance.
For its central role in acquiring the land, designing and building the site, and getting the public’s critical buy-in, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment (DNRE), Recreation Division, Waterways Program, is honored with a 2010 BoatUS Recreational Boating Access Award.
BoatUS (Boat Owners Association of The United States) created the award program in 2007 to highlight successes in protecting water access as boaters and communities were losing marina slips, service yards and boat launching areas. The goal is to draw national attention to innovative solutions and share success stories so that others may help to solve their own waterway access challenges.
For boating access on Eight Point Lake, the state had to overcome objections to potential vehicle and trailer traffic, increasing waterway traffic, lot line buffers, property values, wetland and erosion concerns, and law enforcement issues, among others. Many of the lake’s residents had feared overuse and were satisfied with the status quo - the waterway had been virtually inaccessible to the public.
The DNRE responded by working with the public in a transparent manner through a public meeting even before purchase of the land for development. All of the public’s questions and concerns were collected by the DNRE and responded to in detail in a timely fashion. In addition, the DNRE sent the compiled list of questions and responses to all that attended the public meeting. The Michigan State Waterways Commission, a body that advises the DNRE on the State’s Waterways Program, also held a public meeting to review the proposed land purchase and receive comments from the public. After discussion on the potential acquisition, the commission supported the purchase by enacting a resolution.
“Reaching out to the lake association, local government, and site neighbors very early in the process was key,” said BoatUS Vice President of Government Affairs Margaret Podlich. “Over and over, the DNRE was very transparent and kept repeating the facts and intentions to balance misperceptions. Much of this was done before the parcel was even acquired. This slow, methodical and research-based approach that started really early in the project won over the naysayers.”
Since its opening two years ago, the site has become popular with anglers. Another result of the site’s completion was the creation of a new DNRE Waterways Site Acquisition Policy to help smooth the purchase of land for future boating access sites across the state, and the creation of a Waterways Site Development Public Engagement Policy to establish procedures for seeking public involvement.
BoatUS – Boat Owners Association of The United States – is the nation’s leading advocate for recreational boaters providing over half a million members with government representation, programs and money-saving services. For membership information visit www.BoatUS.com or call 800-395-2628.