Natural Resources & Recreational Asset Advocacy
The Shoreline Protection System for the lighthouse was built around 1944. Erosion from high water along Lake Michigan has degraded the seawall and anchor system causing structural concerns and imminent failure.
In December 2021, the Point Betsie Lighthouse was awarded $5.2M from the State of Michigan Enhancement Grant program to upgrade seawall infrastructure. Senator Curt VanderWall was integral in getting this passed with the State Budget.
In March 2023, the Benzie County Government allocated $250K from ARPA funds to aid in preservations efforts.
The Betsie Valley Trail spans 27 miles from Frankfort to beyond Thompsonville. The trail is used by pedestrians, cyclists, and snowmobilers (where designated) throughout the year. The trail is owned by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and maintained by the Betsie Valley Trailway Management Council.
In 2021, a portion of the trail along Crystal Lake was upgraded using $150K DNR Recreational Passport Grant and $50K in funding raised by the BVT.
In 2021 it was announced that the BVT would pursue funding to upgrade 12.3 miles of trail surface between Beulah and Thompsonville. The anticipated cost of this project is $2.9M.
In 2023, the BVT will be seeking a grant from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund to aid in the funding if this project. The BVT will also be seeking financial assistance from the DNR and the Benzie County Parks & Recreation Department.
The Crystal Lake Outlet Dam is about midway between Frankfort and Beulah along the South Shore of Crystal Lake. In 1873, this was the site of one of the most significant environmental disasters in our area. In an effort to improve water transport, Archibald Jones led the Benzie County River Improvement Company to connect Crystal Lake with the Betsie River. During construction a temporary dam was built but was overtaken after a storm with the power of Crystal Lake's waves, which drained a whopping 68 BILLION gallons of water from the lake and exposing 20 feet of shoreline.
1n 1880, the Village of Beulah was established on what once was a wetland on the eastern shore of Crystal Lake. The new sandy shoreline attracted many who built homes around the lake perimeter.
In 1911, the dam was built to sustain the current water levels in the lake; the dam was last upgraded in 1979. The Dam is owned by Benzie County and managed by the Drain Commissioner. In 2013, consistently high lake levels resulted in flooding downstream of the Betsie River. In 2014, the Crystal Lake & Watershed Association installed a monitoring system on the dam to assist in managing the lake levels.
In 2022, the Drain Commissioner disclosed the results of a study done on estimated repair costs for the dam. Anticpated $4K would repair the gates and install an automated monitoring system to regulate lake levels.
In March 2023, the Benzie County Commissioners awarded $80K to facilitate improvements at the Crystal Lake access near the outlet. About $600K in funds was already secured through grants and matching funds. Improvements would include a walk-in boat launch, improved parking, improved restroom facilities, and a wheelchair-accessible boardwalk to the beach. Expanded plans could include a boat washing station and a designated swimming area.
2023 marks the 150the Sesquicentennial Anniversary of this momentous event.