In this guest blog, MySwimPro Ambassador Michelle Rogalski shares why she is raising money — and swimming 10 miles around Muskegon Lake in Michigan — to support the Muskegon Lake Watershed Partnership, an organization that supports the restoration and revitalization of the Muskegon Lake Watershed ecosystem.
Out of sight isn’t always out of mind. Dumping waste into our lakes, rivers, and oceans destroys the beautiful gift that mother nature has bestowed upon us. Adopting an attitude that it is too late to save our local ecosystems will only make things worse. Instead, we need to realize that it is possible to improve our natural environment when we all work together. Restoring our waterways will ensure that everyone who lives near a natural body of water will be able to use it.”
How I’m Making a Difference
I am using my love for swimming long distances to make my voice heard. On July 8th, 2020, I will swim a 10 mile “Tour of Muskegon Lake” to raise money for the Muskegon Lake Watershed Partnership (MLWP). Our goal is to “Break the Barriers to Being Lake People” and raise awareness for environmentally sustainable watershed practices.
I will track my open water journey with the MySwimPro app on my Apple Watch while community members kayak alongside me and visit checkpoints to learn about the wetland habitats and parks that the MLWP has restored. MySwimPro has been really helpful for me in training for and planning the route for my swim. I love that I can see my total distance, heart rate and a map of my swim route! The dryland training plans in the app have helped me mix up my training and build strength for my long-distance swims.
Click here to donate and support my swim!
Why Muskegon Lake?
Muskegon Lake, located in western Michigan, has transformed from a heavily contaminated body of water to a swimming and boating destination thanks to community restoration efforts. The MLWP has been heavily involved in the restoration of several watersheds, parks, and access points around the lake.
MLWP first caught my eye when I went looking for like minded volunteers in my area: people who share my passion for the water and vision for restoring our watershed for future generations. I have been involved with the Partnership, regularly attending meetings and participating in volunteer opportunities.
Highlighting MLWP’s Cleanup Efforts
This year marks 30 years since MLWP’s cleanup of the Grand Trunk Property on the southwest side of the Muskegon Lakeshore. It is home to a boat launch, kayaking spot, picnic area, and the Milwaukee Clipper.
My swim will start and end at Grand Trunk to highlight MLWP’s incredible restoration efforts in the area. Along with drastic improvements seen at Grand Trunk, more than 14,000 linear feet of hardened, debris-laden shoreline was removed to restore the shoreline of Muskegon Lake. Nearly 80 acres of the Muskegon Lake shoreline and lake bottom were improved for fish and wildlife habitat by removing historic foundry fill and lumber-era sawmill waste. The MLWP has made great strides in restoring the lake, improving public access to the lake every step of the way.
Improving Access to Open Water
Things are changing very quickly in Muskegon, and the MLWP and I believe in increasing public access to the lake as the city develops. Our city understands the importance of making the lake accessible to everyone in our neighborhood, especially youth. We also want to ensure that there are multiple access points around the lake, which will make water recreation safer for the community.
Residents are more likely to become better stewards of the lake’s natural resources and recreational assets if they do not experience barriers to accessing it. Over the next generation, the watershed can continue on its trend of restoration, or can be neglected and destroyed. It is up to us to keep up the good work. Both the MLWP and the MSP communities share my commitment to improving access to water for everyone. As human beings, we need to be inclusive in all that we do, working together to improve the world we live in so that everyone may benefit now and in the future.