fishing for web

Protecting Our Natural Resources

Emmet County is comprised of nearly 300,000 acres, of which two-thirds are forested and one-third are crop and pasture. Inland waters cover over 10,000 acres, and the Lake Michigan shoreline is 68 miles long. Nearly 30% of the county’s land is in public ownership.

With vast tracts of open land, rolling terrain, deep dense forests and lakes teeming with fish and fowl, it takes a concerted effort to preserve the unspoiled acreage of northern Michigan. Our water, land and future depend on the people and organizations who protect the natural resources that define Emmet County.


Emmet Conservation District Mission Statement

Our mission as stewards of the Environment is to improve the quality of life for residents of Emmet County, by protecting and conserving our natural resources, promoting sound sustainable agriculture practices, and providing educational opportunities for the community. Please check our Web site regularly  for the latest information on upcoming workshops, spring and fall seedling/transplant sales, products for sale year round, and other valuable resource information at   (The Emmet Conservation District is not a department of Emmet County.)

Emmet Conservation District
3434 M-119, Suite E
Harbor Springs, MI 49740
(231) 439-8977


Protecting Our Waters

Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council –

Tip of the Mitt covers:
More than 2,500 miles of rivers and streams
A blue-ribbon trout stream
14 lakes larger than 1,000 acres
250 lakes larger than or equal to 10 acres
490 lakes larger than or equal to 1 acre and less than 10 acres
50 lakes greater than or equal to 0.1 acres and less than 1 acre
339,000 acres of wetlands
Note: 1 acre = 209′ long by 209′ wide

Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council is the lead organization for water resource protection in Antrim, Charlevoix, Cheboygan, and Emmet counties. Its executive director, Gail Gruenwald, summered in northern Michigan as a youth, and has called the area home for 25 years.

“We are dedicated to preserving the heritage of northern Michigan, a tradition built around our magnificent waters,” says Gruenwald. She and her staff spend summers on the lakes and rivers researching the status of local waters. They measure the level of invasive species, aquatic plants and pollution levels. In winters, they write reports and present recommendations on protecting and improving lakes and rivers.

Her staff includes a restoration ecologist who works to restore shorelines and prevent degradation of lake and stream banks. Another staffer is charged with implementing watershed. One policy director fights to maintain current natural resource protection policies, and another reviews proposals and policies that might harm regional resources. Team members work together to prevent further proliferation of exotic, invasive species, habitat destruction, stormwater and nutrient pollution.

See also: Freshwater Future – Petoskey

Protecting Our Land


WHO: Little Traverse Conservancy —

Conservancy works:
11,424 acres owned and managed as public nature preserves
18,377 protected acres in private hands with conservation easements
6,884 protected acres of parks and recreation land in “assist” project with
local and state government
2,434 acres currently held for and jointly managed with the state
105 miles of linear lake and stream frontage protected in the above projects

In 1972, a group of visionary residents and resorters in the Petoskey-Harbor Springs area created the Little Traverse Conservancy. The goal: to provide balance between preservation of our natural resources and fragmentation and development of the land. “As the pace of investment in land development increased, they reasoned, and if we are to protect the quality of life our area offers to year-round and resort residents alike, there should be a corresponding increase in the amount invested in land conservation,” says conservancy Executive Director Tom Bailey. “They viewed the conservancy as an alternative to environmental regulation that would offer direct action—conservation of land through land acquisition,” Bailey adds.

That mission remains much the same today, and thanks to increased support from area residents, resorters and businesses, the conservancy owns more than 11,000 acres in its five-county service region. “These public nature preserves offer places for people to enjoy the outdoors, appreciate the scenery and escape from the noise of daily life,” Bailey says. “In addition, these places protect natural features and serve as outdoor classrooms for some 5,000 to 7,000 school children who visit our preserves each year.”

More choices are available today as well for landowners to direct the future of their properties. They can make gifts of land or conservation easements directly to the conservancy; in some cases, land sales are also made, and in rare cases, landowners may be able to sell conservation easements, Bailey notes. “Land developers and conservationists tend to agree that the key is balance,” he adds. “People come to northern Michigan so that they can live, work or vacation in a land of beautiful scenery, clean water, pure air, wildlife and open vistas. Our resort and tourism industries depend on natural beauty and open spaces without which there would be no reason for people to work, play or live here. Wildlife need open land to live and reproduce. The value of developed property is diminished if there is too much development, and so balance is necessary.”

recycling web

Protecting our Future

WHO: Emmet County Department of Public Works (DPW) –

Recycling Numbers:
80% or more of county residents recycle.
60% of county residents have weekly curbside recycling service, provided by their township or municipality.
Over 200 businesses contract with the county for convenient curbside collection of their recyclables.
12 recycling drop-sites are conveniently located throughout the county; 11 are open 24/7.
37 different materials are accepted. A few cutting-edge examples: televisions and other electronics, tires, fluorescent light bulbs,
rubble, and small appliances.
6,186 tons of material were recycled in the county in 2007.

Little Traverse BayEmmet County’s recycling program has long been a progressive operation that has surpassed its peers. In fact, the county’s program is celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2010, and plans are in the works to continue growth of services including more material types collected and greater convenience. “There’s nothing we like better than making it possible for residents to recycle new materials,” says Kate Melby, DPW communications coordinator. “Over its nearly 20 years of operation, Emmet County Recycling has steadily increased the variety of materials recovered, bringing the latest in recycling to our rural community.”

The current facility presents nearly effortless recycling opportunities for residents. The facility removes trash inadvertently left in recyclables, separates materials as needed (i.e. sort #1 plastics from #2), and bales cardboard, paper, plastics and clothing. At the county site, recyclables are loaded for hauling to factories, yard waste is ground for compost, and medicine-disposal days are held regularly.

Elisa Seltzer, DPW director, said an expansion of the center, beginning in spring 2009, will be in operation by spring 2010. “This expansion will quadruple processing facility capacity and will accept more kinds of materials,” Seltzer says. “We are particularly interested in expanding the types of plastics we accept.” In addition, the county hopes to increase the curbside collection program.

Emmet County, Michigan
200 Division Street, Petoskey MI 49770
(231) 348-1702 | Contact Us