Arcadia-Pierport Watershed

Arcadia-Pierport Watershed Plan Partnership

Frequently Asked Questions

Arcadia-Pierport Watershed

Arcadia-Pierport Watershed – click to enlarge

What is a Watershed?
A watershed is an area of land that drains to a common body of water. In Michigan, all watersheds eventually flow into one of the Great Lakes. Watersheds don’t follow city, township and village boundaries. Instead, their boundaries are created by the nature of an area’s topography, and depend on the height and slope of the land that directs water to a common point in the landscape.

What is a Watershed Plan?
A Watershed Plan is a cooperative activity in local and regional land-use planning that recognizes watershed boundaries rather than political boundaries ( for example, cities, townships and villages) and considers water resources management as the central planning objective.

Why Do We Need a Watershed Plan?
Chris Swan, Center for Watershed Protection said it best: “The most compelling reason to create a watershed plan is because small communities often have an excellent opportunity to protect their water resources prior to development, rather than trying to restore them after the degradation of water quality has occurred.” Having a watershed plan will also provide a point of reference for land-use decisions that involve community water resources, avoid decisions that don’t take into consideration the desires of the community, and ensure the wise use of water resources to help maintain a high quality of life for current and future generations. Having an approved Watershed Plan will help attract grant dollars so that watershed projects desired by the community can be implemented. And finally, one of the top 3 priorities from visioning sessions of the 15 communities that are participating in the Lakes to Land Regional Initiative dealt with maintaining and improving water quality and watershed planning.

Do Other Communities Have Watershed Plans?
More than 150 Watershed Plans have been developed at the local level with help from DEQ grants from the Non-Point Source program. Below are the approved DEQ Cadillac District Watershed Plans.

CMI Approved Plans CMI and 319 Approved Plans
Betsie River Bear Creek (Manistee Co.)
Black Lake Cedar Lake
Boardman River Cheboygan River, Lower Black River
Elk River Chain of Lakes Glen Lake/Crystal River
Hamlin Lake/Big Sable Grand Traverse Bay
Herring Lake Higgins Lake
Little Manistee River Lake Charlevoix
Manistee River Lake Leelanau Watershed
Mitchell Creek Little Traverse Bay
Mullet Lake Long Lake (Grand Traverse Co.)
Platte River Ocqueoc River
Thunder Bay River, Main Branch Pere Marquette
Thunder Bay River, North and South Branches Pine River/Van Etten Lake
Upper Au Sable Portage Lake
Upper Clam River Upper Manistee
Muskegon River

The map of the approved watershed plans can be located on page 10 at: deq/wrd-nps-approved-watershed-plans_431187_7.pdf

Why Do Watershed Plans Have to be Approved by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ)?
To be eligible for grant funding through the federal Clean Water Act under Section 319, or the Clean Michigan Initiative(CMI) Nonpoint Source Pollution Control Grant program, the watershed management plan must meet certain criteria and be approved by the DEQ. The DEQ evaluates each watershed management plan to determine if it meets CMI grant-eligible criteria, and if it also meets the 9 Elements required for federal grant funding under Section 319 of the Clean Water Act. The watershed management plan can be approved under just CMI or both CMI and Section 319.

What Will the Watershed Plan Be Used For?
As stated in the Partnership Agreement, the plan will be used to provide watershed-based educational programs to all stakeholders, engage youth and adults in watershed management and monitoring projects, guide water quality monitoring and watershed restoration, develop complementary recreational, business and other initiatives, develop funding tools to sustain implementation of the plan and will be used to secure state, federal and other sources of funding to implement the plan.

How Will the Watershed Plan Integrate With the Master Plan and Recreation Plan?
The watershed plan development will be guided by the Master Plan Cornerstones, Recreational Plan Goals and Objectives (if these 2 plans have been developed) and the community values identified in previous plan development and visioning sessions conducted through the Lakes to Land Regional Initiative or other local efforts. Community input will be a crucial part of the watershed plan development process. The watershed plan will be reviewed to ensure consistency between and among the various land-use plans of each community in the watershed. In addition, the Lakes to Land Regional Initiative has identified common regional goals and values which will also be considered as the watershed plan is developed.

How will the watershed plan affect the personal use of my property?
The watershed plan will identify various water quality issues important to the community and identify needed protections, remediation, and enhancements. The watershed plan will serve to educate community members about what the issues are, and help individual landowners address those issues, if appropriate. The city, township or village can use the watershed plan (and the Master Plan for that matter) to guide future zoning provisions focused on storm water and water quality. Most zoning ordinances have a procedure for granting variances (that is, exceptions to the zoning rules) generally because of some expressed hardship by the property owner due to the particular nature of his/her property.

How will the watershed plan affect economic development?
High quality water resources are a fundamental necessity for economic development. It’s necessary for agriculture, recreation and tourism, and business in general and is considered an important component for community livability. Degraded water resources can discourage economic development. The watershed plan will help identify sensitive areas that require protection, such as areas relied upon for drinking water supplies. It will also suggest areas where Best Management Practices (BMPs) will be necessary to eliminate non-point source run-off into rivers, streams and wetlands in the watershed.

What is a Best Management Practice?
The DEQ’s Nonpoint Source Watershed Planning report describes a Best Management Practice (BMP) as a land management practice that a landowner implements to control sources or causes of pollution. There are three types of BMPs that treat, prevent, or reduce water pollution:

a) Structural BMPs: “brick and mortar” practices that require construction activities to install, such as storm water basins, grade stabilization structures and rock rip-rap.
b) Vegetative BMPs: use plants, including grasses, trees, and shrubs to stabilize eroding areas.
c) Managerial BMPs: involve changing operating procedures at a site.

What is the Financial Cost to the Community and How Will the Funding be Handled?
The cost for consultant Beckett & Raeder to prepare the Arcadia-Pierport Watershed Plan is $85,000. A 15% match is required, totaling $12,750 (which is 15% of $85,000). The Alliance for Economic Success (AES) will serve as the community partner for the watershed plan, along with the Manistee County Community Foundation (MCCF). Two funds will be set up at MCCF: one will be an Endowment Fund that requires a minimum of $5,000 to establish, and the other will be a Maintenance Fund, requiring a minimum of $500 to set up. The dollar matches for both funds will be raised by tax-deductible charitable donations and MCCF will receive and acknowledge each donation. It is hoped that the community support for the watershed plan will encourage community members to voluntarily provide whatever charitable contributions they can afford.

How Can I Make a Charitable Contribution?
Donors will be able to contribute online through the MCCF website at or by check made payable to the MCCF with the Arcadia-Pierport Watershed Fund listed on the memo line. MCCF will also provide assistance for donors who wish to make gifts of cash, bonds, real estate, or other assets including planned gifts. In addition, MCCF can coordinate donation receipt through a third party, as well as anonymous donations. For donation questions, you may call MCCF at 231-723-7269. MCCF’s mailing address is: 395 Third Street, Manistee, Michigan 49660.

What Opportunities Do I Have to Participate in the Watershed Plan Development Process?
There will be many opportunities to participate that will involve as much or as little time as you have! The watershed plan will be developed through an open, inclusive process, so there will be opportunities to serve on the Watershed Leadership Team, the Executive Committee, and other subcommittees that may be established. Help will be needed to obtain watershed plan Partnership Agreement signatures of support, fund-raising, development of informational materials and educational programs, community engagement including watershed plan visioning sessions, and water quality monitoring. Volunteer needs will be posted on the Arcadia Township website:, and on this page.

What Am I Agreeing to if I Sign the Partnership Agreement and How Much Time Am I Expected to Devote to the Plan Process?
At a minimum, you are agreeing that the Arcadia-Pierport Watershed Plan is a good idea for the community to prepare and implement. It is hoped, but not required that community members will participate in one or more of the activities listed in Question 13 above, to the extent that they comfortably can. There are no minimum time requirements for participation. However, that said, we encourage you to share your views, dreams, desires and concerns about the watershed plan and help the watershed community collaboratively identify and prioritize what projects to focus on to protect, maintain and improve our watershed for the future.

Prepared 12-15-13. 



Arcadia-Pierport Watershed — 12 Comments

  1. A couple of questions:’
    1. Do all 3 meetings at PVCC cover the same topic? If I can only make one, will I hear the same as the other 2 meetings?
    2. The Survey Monkey doesn’t seem to work.
    3. Who are the members of the Watershed committee or group working on this?
    4. What is their timeline? When do they expect to have an approved plan?

    • Hi, Bill! Thanks for your questions. The meetings at the PVCC are monthly updates, so the content will change from one to the next. We are finalizing the survey now, and it will be posted on this page. Currently, the active Leadership Team members are Sam Catanese and Sharon Goble as co-chairs, Brad Hopwood, Chip May, Chris Sullivan, Brad Hopwood, Don Oswell, Mary Reed, and John Iacoangeli. Other attendees lend technical support, or attend as interested parties. The timeline for completion on the grant application is by March 31, 2015. Take care!

      • I’m an interested party, plan to come to meetings (are they always 2nd Wed., 11-1?)
        Please at least email any meeting time changes. (This is 1st email I received.. keep it coming)

        • Hi John! We’re happy to have you join us! Our meetings are always scheduled for the second Wednesday of the month from 11am to 1pm at the Pleasant Valley Community Center in Arcadia. You are on my e-mail list so I will keep you posted if there are any changes! Thanks for your participation and interest!

  2. I thought at the meeting last week in Arcadia, they were going to talk about the improvements at the Sunset Deck – did they cover that? I would like to see them at least for now, clean out the steps of sand and plants, so folks are able to use it without fear of falling! Someone needs to refinish the deck, as well! Let me know what is happening – thanks!

    • Hi, Deb! There was indeed also a presentation on the Sunset Beach improvements. The Powerpoint is available under “Project Documents,” on the right side of this page.

  3. Comments in reference to the Arcadia Beach Natural Area Proposal
    August 10, 2015

    • Dangerous and inappropriate placement of swings by a walkway.
    • Swings adjacent to a child’s playground, surrounded by cement are inappropriate. Swings in this location will be played on as a part of the playground and are a hazard to children using them, as well as a hazard to people walking along the walkway.
    o Swing structures should be located away from other equipment or activities to help prevent young children from inadvertently running into the path of moving swings. Additional protection can be provided by means of a low blockade such as a fence or hedge around the perimeter of the swing area. The blockade should not be an obstacle within the use zone of a swing structure or hamper supervision by blocking visibility. U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) Public Playground Safety Handbook
    o The use zone to the sides of a single-axis swing should extend a minimum of 6 feet from the perimeter of the swing. U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) Public Playground Safety Handbook
    Playground Safety Surfacing:
    • Playground safety surfacing might seem like a good idea, but it will quickly be filled with sand due to the prevailing winds.
    • Sand is an acceptable playground fall surface. Money used for the play surface, and the work required to maintain the surface is best spent elsewhere – perhaps at Pickert Park where there is not a sand migration issue.

    Seating/Swings as seating:
    • Sunset Station has bench seating for 25 or more at the present time.
    • Benches are used for pausing after the walk from the beach, removing sand from feet before exiting the area, and for seating to watch our lingering sunsets.
    • There is a LACK of seating in this plan. Swings are not seating, as those who are mobility challenged or children cannot safely use them.
    • Swings provide swinging for 8 individuals: it is an active area and does not promote conversing/shared space.
    • Benches are passive, and invite fellow beach goers/sunset observers to linger, share the space, and converse.
    • Properly anchored benches can be safely used by children.
    • We need seating via long benches or individual benches to seat a minimum of 20 individuals.

    Mobi Mats:
    • What do the mobi mats lead to? It appears they are hanging off the bluff. How realistic is it to use these and then have a drop off?
    • Who will clear and maintain mobility mats as needed – which could be on a weekly to daily basis? The mats that are along the accessible Lakes to Land AES area outside of Manistee were covered with 12” of sand when we visited there.
    • To state: “volunteers with heavy equipment” will maintain this area is unrealistic. If we are to have a respected beach area for our taxpayers and visitors, we need a solid plan for upkeep. Volunteers age, no longer own their equipment, vacation, or otherwise are not available. It is the responsibility of Arcadia Township to maintain this area, just as they do Arcadia Township hall, fire barn, and marina.

    Playground Safety Barrier:
    • There is a lack of barrier for children playing. Play ground safety standards are not met for a play area adjacent to a drive: the standards require:
    o A discrete barrier, such as structural bollards, trees, or posts, placed along any side of the playground which is within 30 feet of streets or parking lots, to prevent a vehicle from accidentally entering the space.
    • Based on information from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), Public Playground Safety Handbook, Pub. No. 325, information from the American Society for Testing and Materials Standards (ASTM), F 2373-05, and information from ASTM Standard Safety Performance Specification for Fences/Barriers for Public, Commercial, and Multi-Family Residential Use Outdoor Play Areas, F2049
    Walkway to Beach/Bike Rack/ Golf Cart Parking
    • A continuous walkway from the village to the playground and beach should have been a critical be part of this beach access plan.
    • Not everyone drives to the beach, and in a community which is espousing walkability, a walkway is the FIRST thing that should be added. In this plan, there is a “walkway to nowhere” – a token ribbon of sidewalk that does not connect to existing pathways is inappropriate.
    • Many people ride bikes to the beach – there is no accommodation for the bicycle rack in the plan.
    • Incorporation of the bike rack is a necessity.
    • Many people are driving golf carts to the beach. At the present time, they clog the entrance to Sunset Station.
    • Signage is needed instructing golf cart users to occupy parking spaces.

    • Are the present street lights to remain?
    • What will light the parking area if they are removed?
    • A light is needed on the bathroom building.

    Budgetary Items:
    • The items listed in your budget plan are not referenced:
    o benches, 2 grills, dog waste dispenser, interpretive signs and ARE NOT in the schematic. What/where is the proposal for these items?
    During the presentation, restriping the parking lot on the road right of way was referenced. The stripping in the plan is the present configuration. The public needs to see the proposal for the restriping before this is approved.
    Concrete Ramp in Dune Area:
    1. A concrete ramp is an inappropriate material to use in a dune area: Per Home in the Dunes, Designed to Preserve – State of Michigan:
    2. Road access to the site usually disturbs more land area than any other single use. It requires more grading, removal of more trees and native plants, and causes more erosion than any other use. Drives also create edges and routes for invasive plants to move into an otherwise natural area.
    3. Do not pave drives except with porous materials. It is hard to imagine where or why paved driveways are justified in the dunes (a direct quote from the source).
    4. Avoid making unnecessary topographic changes; disturbing or undercutting a slope 
is the most common human cause of erosion 

    Practical Guidelines for Site Development and Management in Michigan’s Critical Dune Area. Made possible through the Michigan Costal Zone Management Program, MDNR.
    1. Avoid clearing and grubbing on steep slopes and outside construction buffer areas. 2. Leave all stumps and roots in place to stabilize soils and slopes.
    1. Do not remove sand from areas landward of the dune crest (bluff line).
    2. Only remove sand deposited on decks, walkways, driveways, etc. and allow blow sand to remain in other vegetated areas.
    3. Remove no more than 1 cubic yard of sand during a year (using hand tools). Removal of additional sand on an annual basis requires a DNRE permit and suggests the need for a long-term sand management plan (vegetative plantings).
    4. Utilize snow fencing / sand fencing to establish temporary windbreaks (especially when vegetation is dormant) to “capture” sand and avoid the need for continued removal of blow sand.
    Damage to dunes from pedestrian traffic can be avoided by the use of elevated walkovers for access to the beach.
    1. Pier supported walkovers are relatively easy to build
    2. Walkovers can be ramped to allow for use by people of all abilities
    3. Place walkover landward of the foredune
    4. Extend walkover no farther lakeward than the most landward point of beach where it will not interfere with use of the beach during high water or wave times 

    5. Orient the structure at an angle to the prevailing wind direction 

    6. Wind blowing directly up the path of the walkover may impede growth of 
vegetation beneath it, erode sand from the lakeward end, and increase possibility of 
 washout or blowout occurrences.
    Florida – a state with dunes much like those at Arcadia Beach Natural Area, has excellent guidelines:
    • The walkover shall be designed and sited to protect dune features, to minimize disturbance of native vegetation, to not restrict lateral beach access and to minimize the amount of construction material that may become debris during a storm.
    • The Department discourages solid concrete walks and footpath surfaces such as stepping stones.
    • Walkovers are designed to be minor, expendable structures that pose a minimal interference with coastal processes and generate minimal amounts of debris.
    • Walkovers constructed across native beach and dune vegetation should be post-supported and elevated a sufficient distance above the existing or proposed vegetation to allow for sand build-up and clearance above the vegetation.
    • Whenever possible, stairways and ramps leading from the dune bluff or crest down to the beach should be designed with posts that completely span the seaward slope of the dune.
    • The structure should be designed to minimize the quantity of material used in construction, such as avoiding the use of vertical wood pickets, and reducing the length and width of construction on the beach.
    • Multi-family walkovers shall not exceed 6 feet in overall width and the support posts shall not be greater than 6-inch wide posts.
    • Round posts are preferred to square posts. Support posts shall not be encased in concrete nor installed into dune slopes that are steeper than approximately 30 degrees.

  4. I posted comments on the Arcadia Beach presentation. I do not see my comments posted. Please advise.

    • Hi, Connie! Thanks for your patience while I got through the weekend’s mail and comments. And also for your detailed commentary! It has been forwarded to the project manager.

  5. I attended the watershed meeting and the presentation on the Arcadia Beach. I believe Connie Maseck’s observation and comments to be relevant and important and need to be seriously considered.The township is fortunate to have citizens who take a a significant interest in such a project and experience and education to go along with it.

  6. Sunset Station Comments
    The proposed plan for the Arcadia Beach Natural Area has very little that makes it suitable for our community needs. Rather than creating a carefully thought out, environmentally respective plan, the proposed plan is an uninspiring cookie cutter approach appropriate for a more urban setting. This plan also has significant environmental and safety concerns.

    The most fragile areas of Michigan’s dunes can be protected while balancing the benefits of economic development, multiple human uses and benefits of public access and enjoyment through the protection of steep, erosive slopes, using alternative construction techniques to reduce the impacts of development on dunes, and protecting dune vegetation essential to dune preservation and stability-Dennis Albert, recent dune expert who presented in August 2015, hosted by GTRLC-after a hike at Arcadia Dunes.

    Environment Issues

    A concrete and sheet metal access road is not appropriate in a dune area. Pier supported walk overs with decking that allows sand to move through it, which can be wide enough for wheelchair access, and which has been constructed at other AES Lakes to Land sites, is appropriate.

    Installation of a concrete and steel wall access ramp necessitates removal of vast amounts of sand and the beach grass that stabilizes the dune.

    The plan to remove Sunset Station and lower the dune destabilizes the existing dune ridge and destroys the dune grass and small trees present.

    Safety Issues

    Barriers There is no barrier between the road end/parking lot and the exposed dune. Visitors to the road end (with sunset station removed, so is an identifiable tourist destination) will take the path of least resistance, ignoring the concrete access road to the beach, and walking directly over the dune. This will cause a disruption to the beach vegetation and will create dune blow outs. Off road and heavy duty vehicles will now have an unmitigated route to disturb the fragile dune and beach area. The current Sunset Station provides such a barrier. Protective barriers are needed to prevent this occurrence.

    Barriers are also absent in the plan between the parking area and children’s play space. Children could run into the parking lot or vehicles veer into the play space. Consideration must be given to an appropriate and aesthetic guardrail for this area.

    Pedestrians are in danger walking to the beach area and through the parking lot. The walking space allotted between the driving area and the property edge is insufficient especially with erratic parking causing motorist to veer into the walkway and vegetation growth along the edge of the property encroaching into the walking space. None of the nominal pavement beyond the painted line is wide enough for one wheelchair, much less two wheelchairs. Also, this walking space does not connect to any other walk along Lake Street.

    Walking through the parking lot is hazardous because of insufficient space around cars and the need to walk across the driving space to reach the beach. There is also a danger of a car hitting a pedestrian when backing out of the angle parking spaces into the designated walking space because there is no room to get out of the way. The placement -which I assume was by Camp Arcadia-of a tall barrier fence along the side with the painted line affords no escape if a car suddenly backs up. It was mentioned that the poor parking plan would be redone, however it has not been addressed in either of the new proposals.

    Bench Swings are proposed to be repurposed as the only comfort seating in the beach plan. This provides only 8 seats if all 4 swings are used. Currently there is seating for over twenty people. A person may not want to sit on, nor be physically able to use a moving swing as one would a stationary bench. Also, the swinging motion invades the deck area creating a safety issue.

    Dune Ecology Resource

    Excellent information on dunes is readily available online:

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  7. Thank you to all the input from concerned Arcadians. I appreciate the well thoughtout and documented comments from Connie and Dan Macek.
    My concerns are:
    1. Seating is needed in the area- for rest, conversation and sand removal.
    2. Safety barriers are needed between pedestrians, children’s play area and vehicles.
    3. Barriers are also needed “between road end/parking lot and exposed dune.”
    4. Designated parking is needed for cars, golf carts and bikes.
    5. My “older” 9 and 11 year old grandsons also love the play area. Is it too much of a safety hazard to keep the swing set for older children?
    6. A safe (and marked) walkway and bike path is needed for going to AND coming back from the beach area.
    7. Does the current Sunset Station have to be removed? Could the new Arcadia Beach Natural Area be designed adjacent to the Sunset Station – leaving the Sunset Station intact until it’s removal is possibly mandated in the future?