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Protecting Northern Michigan's ​Water Resources

Lake Charlevoix Visioning and Shoreline Protection

A Vision for Lake Charlevoix: Dedication to Shoreline Protection

The communities surrounding Lake Charlevoix have a long history of working together to actively protect water quality, but ever-changing conditions such as recent record-high water levels, the rise of remote work due to the COVID-19 pandemic, accelerating development pressures, and even turnover of elected and appointed officials in local governments and commissions can put communities in a reactionary state instead of on a proactive path toward desired goals.

During the convergence of recent high water levels peaking in 2020 and ongoing development pressure, Lake Charlevoix experienced a significant increase in shoreline hardening. Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council, in partnership with the Lake Charlevoix Association (LCA) and the Land Information Access Association (LIAA), worked to reinvigorate the commitment local governments have made to the protection of the Lake Charlevoix Watershed and develop recommendations for a forward-looking approach that allows the communities to lead the development process based upon a vision for the future rather than simply react to it.

With generous funding provided by the Charlevoix County Community Foundation, Lake Charlevoix Association, and Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council, the Watershed Council, LCA, and LIA met with the municipalities around the Lake to obtain feedback on how communities around the Lake envision protecting and preserving Lake Charlevoix for the future. The sessions were intended to build toward a common future vision for the lake, listen to the challenges that each jurisdiction faces in managing its shoreline, and highlight available tools and strategies that can support each jurisdiction in realizing its vision for a protected and preserved Lake Charlevoix.

Public input meetings took place during the fall of 2022 with nine of the 10 planning commissions along Lake Charlevoix. Follow-up meetings were conducted from February to May of 2023.

The Lake Charlevoix Visioning was a follow-up effort to Enacting Shoreline Zoning Protections Around Lake Charlevoix, a three-year project aimed at protecting the water quality of Lake Charlevoix through the adoption of shoreline protection zoning standards in the 10 jurisdictions surrounding the Lake. The results of the efforts were a series of Lake Charlevoix Watershed Zoning Recommendations.


Every community that participated agreed that the long-term protection of Lake Charlevoix for future generations was of the utmost importance. It was generally understood that to achieve this, each community would have to work together to coordinate efforts regarding local ordinances, communication, and education. Flexibility is desired, understanding that there is not a one-size-fits-all approach that will work for every community.

Recommendations have been divided into three categories. The first is lake-wide recommendations — those actions that all local governments around Lake Charlevoix should pursue.

A Vision for Lake Charlevoix: Dedication to Shoreline Protection

The second is additional options for consideration, which are recommendations that will require additional discussion, communication and collaboration among all the municipalities. In addition, it is recognized that each municipality faces its own challenges and needs. As a result, we included a third category of individual recommendations tailored to each individual jurisdiction.

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