NEWS

Read the Michigan Chapter, North American Lake Management Society Fall Newsletter

October 22, 2014 19:58

Read the Fall 2014 edition of the Michigan Chapter, North American Lake Management Society Newsletter by  clicking here. In this edition you will learn about:

  • Presidential Ponderings
  • McNALMS Lunch and Learn Seminar
  • Toxins in Toledo’s Drinking Water Supply
  • Lake Erie Harmful Algal Bloom Threatens Drinking Water Supplies
  • Why is My Lake Turning Colors?
  • Research Update: Lake Research Grant Program
  • Corporate Member Corner: Experience the LakePro Difference

Newsletters from Michigan McNALMS and National NALMS are posted on the McNALMS web site at  www.mcnalms.org.



Liability Potential for Associations

October 20, 2014 10:37

Clifford H. Bloom
Attorney-at-Law
Bloom Sluggett Morgan Law P.C.
www.bsmlawpc.com

The Michigan Court of Appeals recently decided an interesting case that has implications for property owners, lake and similar associations that own or control lake access sites on Michigan Inland lakes. In Gibbons v. Horseshoe Lake Corporation (unpublished Michigan Court of Appeals decision dated March 11, 2014; Case No. 311754; 2014 WL 953568), the Horseshoe Lake Corporation (“Association”) owned and controlled a lake front lot on Horseshoe Lake.  The Association had a committee that periodically checked the trees on the lake access lot for insects, dying trees and similar matters.  During a storm, a tree located on the access lot fell onto the house of the adjoining lot (which is owned by the Plaintiffs in the lawsuit).  Ironically, Plaintiffs had complained to the Association on many prior occasions about the condition of the lake front lot and the trees on it.  Plaintiffs sued the Association for the tree damage to their house and for physical injuries suffered by one of the Plaintiffs.

The trial court dismissed the damages lawsuit against the Association. However, on appeal, the Michigan Court of Appeals indicated that the matter should proceed to trial and that it was possible that the Association could be held liable for the damage to the house and injuries suffered by one of the Plaintiffs caused by the tree.  Does this mean that all associations have significant potential liabilities regarding platted, dedicated, deeded or other lake access sites?  Not necessarily.

Gibbons v. Horseshoe Lake Corporation involved a somewhat unusual fact situation.  In that case, the Association owned and controlled a lake front lot.  The Association had a committee that actively monitored and maintained the lake front lot at issue.  Finally, Plaintiffs had complained repeatedly to the Association about the condition of the Association’s lot, including the trees thereon.

In order for an association to be found liable for damages in court pursuant to death, injury or property damage, the association involved must normally own or control the property or site where the accident occurred.  “Ownership, possession and control” (or at least possession and control) is normally a prerequisite before an association or anyone can incur liability for something that happens on a piece of real estate.  See Merritt v Nickelson, 407 Mich 544 (1980) and Orel v Uni-Rak Sales Company, Inc., 454 Mich 564 (1997).

There are many lake access or use easements, platted/dedicated roads, parks, walkways or alleys for which no association has ownership, possession or control.  In those case, even if a lake or neighborhood association exists but does not own or actively maintain, possess or control the easement, park, road or alley at issue, the potential for liability for that association is minimal.

Of course, if an association actually owns a lot, parcel or other property and someone is killed or injured thereon, the potential for liability could be significant.  Such properties typically include an association boat launch, access lot, clubhouse or storage building.

Even if an association did not initially own, control or have possession of a site, it could incur liability if it voluntarily assumes control or possession of the property.

Rather than worry about endless scenarios by which an association (or even its officers or members) can be potentially liable, it is better to make sure that the association has good and adequate liability insurance.  Even if a liability lawsuit is brought wrongfully against an association, the attorney fees and costs that must be incurred in getting such a case dismissed could be considerable.  Typically, a liability insurance policy covers not only any potential damages award, but also attorney fees and court costs, up to the specified limits of the policy.

In a situation where an association does not own, possess or control an easement, park, road or alley, its officials should think twice before voluntarily commencing to maintain, possess or control a property.  Should the association undertake such activities, the so-called Pottery Barn rule can apply – “you break it, you pay for it.”  See Zychowski v A. J. Marshall Company, Inc., 233 Mich App 229, 231 (1998).

[Just as this issue went to print, the Michigan Supreme Court released an interesting decision in Sholberg v Truman, ____ Mich ____ (2014) regarding liability for the possession, ownership or control of real property.]



Why Join Michigan Lake and Stream Associations?

October 20, 2014 09:48

We know we don’t need to tell you or the other members of your association how profoundly valuable our “inland seas”- our lakes, big or small, are to the Great Lakes region and to our state in particular. These fragile bodies of water, not yet even fifteen thousand years old, continue to attract hundreds of thousands of people to Michigan in search of fun and relaxation. The investment you made in your lake front home and/or property turned out to be a wise one!

Yet, while our lakes continue to serve generation after generation, offering both outstanding recreational   and economic opportunities for our citizens, the fact is, we have given little or nothing back to sustain or maintain the health of these living and ever evolving freshwater basins we know as lakes. Rapidly expanding development on and around our lakes as well as over use and aquatic invasive species threaten to degrade the water quality and the aquatic ecosystems of these priceless freshwater gems. Is the fishing in your lake as good as it was forty years ago – with few exceptions, the “old timers” will tell you that it is not.

I’m convinced the best way to ensure that our lakes remain healthy and viable for future generations as well as to protect the substantial investment you’ve made in lake front property is to join the Michigan Lake and Stream Associations – an organization totally dedicated to preserving and protecting our lakes and streams as well watching out for your rights as a lake or stream front property owner.

With the active support of you and your association, our organization will continue to educate state and local government officials on issues that directly impact you and your lake and we’ll continue to work with our partners – the Michigan Inland Lakes Partnership, the Michigan Natural Shoreline Partnership, Michigan State University Extension and the Michigan Clean Water Corps (MiCorps) in administering the MiCorps Cooperative Lakes Monitoring Program – one of the best all volunteer water quality monitoring efforts in the country. And, with your support, the Michigan Lakes and Streams Foundation, an organization dedicated to ensuring the future of Michigan Lake and Stream Associations, will continue to publish one of the nation’s best magazines dedicated to covering subjects and issues of interest to Michigan lakefront property owners – The Michigan Riparian Magazine.

I won’t mince words at this point – the Michigan Lake and Stream Associations needs you and your association to join us in helping to give back -to preserve, to protect and to save our lakes for future generations. We need your active participation in projects that benefit your lake, and quite frankly, without the financial support gleaned through your annual association dues, we will be unable to continue to actively support the education, training, and lake monitoring programs that are so critical to preserving   our inland lakes and the riparian rights we all enjoy in Michigan.



Enroll Now for the 2015 MiCorps Cooperative Lakes Monitoring Program

October 16, 2014 12:17

There are two ways to enroll:

1) Enroll on the MiCorps web page: http://www.micorps.net/lakeoverview.html

2) Call Jean Roth at Michigan Lake and Stream Associations to request a paper application (989‐257‐3715).

The Cooperative Lakes Monitoring Program (CLMP) has been an important component of Michigan’s inland lakes monitoring program for over 40 years, which makes it the second oldest volunteer monitoring program for lakes in the country. The primary purpose of this cooperative program is to help citizen volunteers monitor indicators of water quality in their lake and document changes in lake quality over time. Since 1992, the Michigan Lake and Stream Associations (ML&SA) has administered the CLMP jointly with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.



Algae are a-bloomin’ but what does it mean?

October 16, 2014 10:21

Due to the recent impact of harmful algal blooms to southeast Michigan communities, many residents have questions about algae and why it may or may not be harmful.

Posted on August 11, 2014 by Steve Stewart, Michigan State University Extension, Michigan Sea Grant and Sonia Joseph Joshi, NOAA Center of Excellence for Great Lakes and Human Health, Michigan Sea Grant

In any healthy water body, there are dozens of micro- and macro-organisms.  Algae are a natural part of an aquatic ecosystem.  Throughout the course of a year, the growth of algae and other phytoplankton go through species succession. For example, from January through April, diatoms are usually the dominant phytoplankton in the water and reach their peak dominance in late April through early May. Blue-green algae, also called cyanobacteria, usually dominate the system from July to September, with peak growth in mid-August.

Click here to read more…

This article was published by Michigan State University Extension. For more information, visit http://www.msue.msu.edu. To have a digest of information delivered straight to your email inbox, visit http://bit.ly/MSUENews. To contact an expert in your area, visit http://expert.msue.msu.edu, or call 888-MSUE4MI (888-678-3464).



Those Darn Lake Weeds – What Good Are They?

October 11, 2014 20:10

One of the most frequently asked questions we receive from lakefront property owners is related to “how to get rid of those pesky lake weeds”.  The fact is, “those weeds”,  are often native (non-invasive) aquatic plants that play an extremely important role in keeping your lake healthy and in ecological balance and should be removed only after consulting a lake professional or aquatic biologist and after gaining approval from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

Inland lakes exist in one of two distinct stable states:  Either green algae dominated with poor water transparency  or aquatic plant dominated with good water transparency.  Which type of lake would you prefer to live on?  Would you care to guess which type of lake hosts lakefront homes with the greatest property values?  How about good fishing?  Which type of lake supports the best opportunity to catch a trophy largemouth bass or northern pike?  If you guessed the aquatic plant dominated lake, than you are absolutely correct!

Native aquatic plants serve as effective integrators of ecological conditions within your lake and react slowly and progressively to changes in nutrient levels and are recognized as valuable long term indicator of overall water quality. Aquatic plants are reinforced by and exert influence on many important  aspects of your lake’s ecology including sediment stability, water transparency, the establishment and maintenance of moderate biological productivity levels and the promotion and sustainability of plant and animal life.  Aquatic plant communities also  provide  critical  nesting  areas  and organic building materials as well as food for an abundance of inland lake fish,  amphibians, reptiles, and birds. In addition, aquatic plant borne micro-organisms living on plant material forms an important food base for macro-invertebrates that in-turn directly support other lake-dwelling species through a  diverse and complex food web. Moreover, emergent and floating aquatic plants serve to protect inland lake shoreline habitat  from  the  erosive  affects  of  wave action. Submerged aquatic plants play a particularly  important  role in aquatic ecosystems due to their numerous critical functions associated with nutrient and organic matter turnover, the provision of shallow water complexity and variability, shelter from predation, food, and fish spawning areas. Submerged aquatic plants also provide numerous mechanisms that foster and sustain high quality, clear water conditions by significantly reducing turbidity, increasing sedimentation rates, suppressing fine and coarse organic particulate re-suspension, uptake of vital limiting nutrients, and the provision of complex shelter for phytoplankton grazers.

Due to their vital importance in supporting and sustaining healthy freshwater fish communities, overall aquatic ecosystem bio-diversity and in contributing to the stability of high quality, moderately productive inland lakes, ecologists from Michigan Department of Natural Resources have strongly recommended that native aquatic plants not be removed or reduced under any circumstances. So please, be a good lake steward and consult a lake manager or aquatic biologist before removing native aquatic plants from around your dock or from your lakefront shoreline – the health of your lake and the value of your lakefront property depends on it!



Wake Boats Rendering Damage to Natural Shorelines and Docks

September 23, 2014 11:01

Michigan Lake and Stream Associations has received numerous phone calls and e-mails in the past two summers from lakefront property owners expressing concern about the collateral damage often rendered to docks, boats and soft shorelines from the increasing number of wake boats operating on Michigan’s inland lakes.  Wakeboarding has increased  in popularity in recent years and with it has come a boom in sales of wake boats designed to create large, high energy waves.  Most modern wakeboarding boats are designed with variable ballast systems which allows the user to pump water into and out of ballast tanks from the surrounding water.  Increasing the volume of ballast water increases the boat’s displacement which consequently enlarges the wake produced. The potential for damage to docks and moored boats as well as the probability of  shoreline erosion increases with the wake boat displacement, hull size, weight, and speed. Ballast laden wake boats operating at high speeds near inland lake shorelines are capable of producing wave heights and frequencies that may exceed  those produced during the most intense summer thunderstorms and/or high winds.   The increasing negative impact of wake boats on inland lake fish and wildlife habitat, water  quality and on personal shoreline property strongly suggests that the operation of these boats  on Michigan inland waters may require increased state regulation in the near future. In the interim, Michigan Lake and Stream Associations recommends the following operating guidelines which are intended to help minimize the ecological and environmental impacts of wake boats. Wake boat operators  should be advised to:

1.   Reduce their speed within 500 feet of shore;

2.  Not add ballast water or other extra weight to their boats;

3.  Not operate their boats near sandy areas,  wetlands or lakefront residences;

4.  Avoid turning their boats in tight circles (tight circles increase wave height
and frequency);

5.  Avoid operating their wake boats in shallow water or near natural shorelines



Does Your Lake Host the Swimmers Itch Parasite?

September 20, 2014 17:37

Many Northern Michigan Inland Lakes are facing the challenge of dealing with the cercariae parasite, aka swimmer’s itch.  The medical term for the condition known as swimmer’s itch is cercariae dermatitis. A swimmer’s itch task force has been formed by the Townships and environmental groups at Higgins Lake.  Past efforts, including a $58,000 study funded by the Higgins Lake Foundation, have provided information on the cycle, but a method to break the cycle remains elusive. High usage and easy traffic access to Detroit and Lansing have resulted in placing Higgins Lake in the “front lines” position to pursue increased research on this troublesome parasite.

Last year, funding for scientific study was moved forward through the State Senate; however, due to budget conflicts it did not pass the House. Our research has confirmed that swimmers itch is known to cause a downturn in tourism and is having a negative impact on the economy in Northern Michigan resort locations. 

 The Higgins Lake task force is once again seeking help from the State for funding of scientific research that may result in breakthrough progress. Our initial information exchange with Lake Partners, Associations and Home Owners Groups in Northern Michigan has confirmed that this challenge is not unique to Higgins Lake. We ask that you provide documentation on how your lakes, tourism and economy are being impacted.  By responding to the survey below, you will help evaluate the need for scientific research to eradicate or help reduce this serious affliction.

 Swimmers’ Itch Survey

  •  Responder’s name and phone number:
  •  Lake and Organization Name and location:
  •  Has your Chamber of Commerce or Organization had complaints about
    Swimmers Itch?
  •  Has the S.I. problem worsened at your lake in recent years?
  •  Have visitors said they “will never return” due to Swimmers Itch?
  •  Has your organization featured any Swimmers Itch awareness efforts?
  •  Have any visitors reported medical attention was necessary for Swimmers
    Itch?
  •  Are preventative measures posted, advertised or promoted in any way?
     If so how?  Is a specific remedy recommended?
  •  Has your lake been treated in any way for Swimmers Itch?
  •  Who makes decisions for treatments on your lake? (Home Owners, lake
    management company, Associations)
  •  Would you support lethal merganser control?

 Additional comments:

 

To download a copy of the swimmer’s itch survey, click here

Send completed survey to the Higgins Lake Foundation by placing in the USPS Mail.

Mailing Address:

Higgins Lake Foundation
P.O. Box 753
Roscommon, MI 48653

or e-mail survey to
info@higginslake-foundation.org



Aquatic Resource Education Association Conference Coming to Traverse City

September 20, 2014 15:23

October 26th – 30th, 2014
Park Place Hotel
Traverse City, MI

The Aquatic Resource Education Association (AREA),a national nonprofit collaborative organization, will host their national conference in Traverse City, Michigan this autumn. AREA is a membership of educators and fisheries professionals from state and federal natural resource agencies, industry and nonprofit organizations with an interest in aquatic education from both an active angling and stewardship perspective.

Sessions include best practices an aquatic education, interdisciplinary uses of aquatic education across the curriculum, fishing in the schools programs, STEM connections to aquatic education, Great Lakes literacy connections, building social support in angling programs and much more. Outdoor learning sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon will provide valuable learning experiences at some of northern Michigan’s most scenic aquatic resources such as Grand Traverse Bay, Lake Michigan and the Boardman,  Au Sable and Platte Rivers.

At this year’s AREA conference, you will:

  • Attend engaging presentations and outdoor learning sessions throughout the week
  • Learn about aquatic education efforts across America.
  • Visit tremendous aquatic resources
  • Network with dedicated colleagues.
  • For more information please check www.michigan.gov/area



MNSP Shoreline Educator Training Returning to MACD Conference

September 20, 2014 14:57

The Michigan Natural Shoreline Partnership’s (MNSP) “Shoreline Educator Training” is returning to the Michigan Association of Conservation Districts’ Fall Convention. This is a one day training for individuals interested in becoming a part of the “Shoreline Educator Network (SEN)”.  The SEN is a statewide network, established in 2011, of natural resource professionals equipped with the tools to conduct inland lake natural shoreline programs for property owners.  If you are a natural resource organization representative, member of a waterfront property owners’ association, local government official, or a watershed resident interested in motivating your community to learn more – and do more – about protecting your lake and local water quality, then this workshop is perfect for you! During this workshop you will learn about how and why it is important to protect inland lakes with natural shoreline landscaping and erosion.

 You will receive the MNSP “Natural Shoreline Landscapes on Michigan’s Inland Lakes: Guidebook for Property Owners”, be provided access to an educational tool kit specifically for shoreline workshops and events for homeowners and have the opportunity to be listed on the MNSP website as a Shoreline Educator.

Date: Monday October 27th

Location:  Shanty Creek Resort – Bellaire

Time:  9:00 AM – 4:00 PM (registration begins at 9:00 AM)

Cost: Early bird registration is $65 and regular registration is $75

Registration is through the MACD Conference Registration. .  www.macd.org



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