Public Demands Public Access: Take Action for Eagle LakeJanuary 22nd, 2014
Eagle Lake, located in Cass County, is a 379 acre body of water with no public boating access site. Providing public boating access on Eagle Lake has been a priority for the angling community and the DNR for several years, however adequate land has not been available for development of such a site even though the funds could be made available for a purchase from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund or other funding sources.
Over the last few years a potential public land acquisition opportunity was identified near the southeast corner of the lake along Eagle Lake Road, known as The Dock Property, which contains a boat ramp on Eagle Lake and presents an opportunity to provide public boating access on a channel along the north of the property that leads to the chain of Christiana, Juno, and Painter Lakes.
Yet, the Eagle Lake Improvement Association (ELIA) has fought all efforts to develop public access to this public natural resource. They ask residents on the lake in their newsletter for their participation “to help combat this very serious threat to the lake environment.” Imagine that–the public, anglers, a “very serious threat”!!?
ELIA ultimately bought The Dock Property themselves to prevent a land deal with the State of Michigan.
Thanks to a heads up from Michiana Outdoor News reporter Louis Stout, we learned that the DNR has stepped up and made an offer on another property, near The Dock Property. However, its clear that the ELIA is gearing up for another fight against anglers and the public.
The Ontwa Township Planning Commission will hold a public meeting Feb. 5 at 7 p.m. in which details will be explained (agenda not yet posted, but check back at the link provided).
A conceptual drawing of the proposed site can be found by clicking here.
It’s imperative that sportsmen and women and representatives of outdoor organizations attend this meeting and show their support, as well as in writing.
- Plan to Attend: Feb. 5th at 7 p.m. at the Ontwa Township Hall, 26225 US 12 East, Edwardsburg, Michigan.
- Write to the Ontwa Township Planning Commission, PO Box 209, Edwardsburg, MI 49112
- Write a letter to the editor: Cassopolis Vigilant/Edwardsburg Argus, Michael Caldwell, publisher
Stout says that the new proposal has received preliminary support from some township members. Public support could help make the difference.
It’s stories like this— from around Michigan and the country—about homeowners blocking public access to a public natural resource, held and protected in the Public Trust, that frustrate us.
Public Act 240 of 2012 (the land cap bill) drove the DNR to develop and adopt a DNR-Managed Public Land Strategy (July 2013), which states as an objective: “Working with local governments, provide public access on all priority lakes over 100 acres.”
However, the situation at Eagle Lake and others like it is a top reason why MUCC has strong concerns about giving local units of government the right to veto critical state purchases within their area, as some have promoted in the discussion around removing the land cap in Michigan, as proposed in HB 5210.
These homeowners have been blocking public access to OUR Michigan lake for years, it is time to move forward.