History of the Portage Lake Watershed Forever

Light house on Portage Lake channel with peopleThe Portage Lake Watershed Forever Plan began in 2006 as a local initiative by residents, public officials, nonprofit organizations, and business leaders aided by the Manistee County Community Foundation and Manistee Economic Development Office.  At the beginning of the planning process, more than 50 individuals, organizations, agencies, and businesses signed the Portage Lake Watershed Forever Partnership Agreement, which contained principles that helped guide the development as well as the expected outcomes of the plan.

Several organizations and committees provided leadership in the development of this plan. The Manistee Economic Development Office (MEDO) served as a nonprofit, 501 (c)(3) hub for financial, grant, and contract management for the planning process. The MEDO engaged a neutral facilitator, Public Sector Consultants Inc.  of Lansing, Michigan, to assist the community in developing the plan. The Portage Lake Watershed Forever Committee and its Executive Committee and Technical Advisory Committee, all of which include representation from all watershed interests, guided the planning process. A Portage Lake Watershed Forever Endowment Fund was established at the Manistee County Community Foundation (www.manisteefoundation.org) to provide support for the plan and its implementation. 

Mike Acton was the driving force in the development of the initial Portage Lake Watershed Forever plan. He worked diligently with all members of the community on the development of the plan from 2006 until the plan was approved in May 2008  by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and as meeting both the State of Michigan Clean Michigan Initiative (CMI) and Federal Environmental Protection Agency Section 319 criteria. Mike continued to be an active member of the watershed and served as the President/Chair during 2008 and 2009. Kathy Ervin served as Chairperson from 2010 to 2011 and Mary Reed served from 2012 through 2018. Sharon Marie served as PLWF board president after Mary Reed and the current president is Armin Schleiffarth.