About Us

What Is the Portage Lake Watershed?
The Portage Lake Watershed is located in Manistee County, Michigan, and encompasses 21 square miles (15,808 acres) including portions of Onekama, Bear Lake, Manistee, and Brown townships as well as the Village of Onekama. Portage Lake comprises 13 percent of the total surface area of the watershed. Seven named creeks and several unnamed creeks and drains feed Portage Lake, which is connected to Lake Michigan by a manmade channel on its west side.

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History of the Portage Lake Watershed Forever

The 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, all of whom recognize the importance of protecting and enhancing this natural resource for the future quality of life and economic well-being of the area. 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. (www.pscinc.com) of Lansing, Michigan, to assist the community in developing the plan. The Portage Lake Watershed FoScreen Shot 2014-12-17 at 1.28.14 PMrever 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. The plan organizational structure is illustrated in Exhibit 1.

The watershed Bylaws were revised and approved by the council in October of 2012. There are now 12 council members who serve varying terms of office. Elections are held each year at the fall annual meeting.. Committee chairs are appointed and applications for membership are sent out annually. Members are encouraged to be active members and serve on one of the committees.

Mike Acton was the driving force in the development of the 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   The plan was approved by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and met both the State of Michigan Clean Michigan Initiative (CMI) and Federal Environmental Protection Agency Section 319 criteria.   Mike has 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 has served from 2012 through 2015.

Become a Member of Portage Lake Watershed Forever!

Watershed Brochure – Why join

Click here for membership application
Why be a member of the Portage Lake Watershed Forever

About the Portage Lake Watershed Forever Endowment Plan and Fund


Related Links:
Portage Lake Watershed Forever Plan – 2007 Presentation
Progress Report 8-02-2007
Fact Sheet (Updated 5-2007)
2007 Press Release