This is the lake where I live, Dunham Lake, which is amazingly pristine and beautiful! One reason it is still so natural and unblemished is due to the greenbelt that encircles a large portion of the lake, protecting it from development and encroachment. Though lakes in New Hampshire and Maine are routinely protected like this, it is highly unusual to find this in our state, let alone in Oakland County. Several factors have gone into the preservation of our lake... one being the forethought of conservation minded land owners and consortiums, along with the diligent efforts of the lakes property owners and board.
If you are interested in a little history, the following is taken from the Dunham Lake website... "In the 1920's, the Wallace family bought up all available land around the lake in an effort to keep the area in its natural state. One day Wallace heard a talk by the noted Canadian bird enthusiast, Jack Miner, who had a bird sanctuary in Ontario along the migratory flyway. The sanctuary is still there today.) Wallace was so impressed by Miner that he decided to use his Dunham Lake property the same way.
Trees were planted caretakers hired and wild rice sown in the shallows of the lake to attract Canada Geese. The area became a State Wildlife Refuge and Federal Game Preserve. Wallace continued to increase his land holdings on both the Hartland and Highland sides of the lake and the refuge prospered.
Upon Wallace's death in 1949, the property was put up for sale. A consortium of five businessmen, headed by former governor of Michigan. Murray D. Van Wagoner (1940-42) purchased it in its entirety. However, the seller imposed certain restrictions on the deed. The area could be developed, yes. But the firing of guns, and hunting of any kind was prohibited. And the purchaser was required to submit a plan to preserve the beauty and purity of the lake.
It was Van Wagoner who came up with the idea of the greenbelt. The other members of Dunham Lake Development" Corporation were doubtful, but Van Wagoner prevailed The greenbelt was incorporated into the development plan. it was to become an area for recreation and beauty, but also a valuable guard against pollution. In 1984 the Dunham Lake Property Owner's Association dedicated its park to Murray Van Wagoner in recognition of his foresight.
Dr. Fusilier (a water quality investigator) reports...“The most important factor for maintaining the high water quality of Dunham Lake in the future is the attitude of the residents. If they maintain their current level of concern and vigilance, no change in the lake water quality should be visible in their life-times."
I would argue that it is equally important to protect all our lakes in Michigan. Unfortunately, it is too late to establish greenbelts around most of them, but there are other lessons to be learned from Dunham Lake. First, when possible, purchase conservation easements to provide as much natural parkland as possible. Second, be vigilant in fighting invasive plants, shrubs, trees and aquatic invaders by educating your neighbors and friends about cleaning their boats thoroughly between launching, and what to plant and what invasives to remove on land surrounding the lake. Third, educate yourself on the types of earth friendly fertilizer to use around your lake. Finally, consider natural shorelines with buffers to prevent excessive runoff and erosion. Let's do what we can to protect all the beautiful lakes of Michigan.