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The emergence of a nature-based tourism economy in Lake Michigan communities such as Pierport and Arcadia has underscored the critical need to ensure the continued functioning natural systems in these areas. Beckett & Raeder, Inc. developed the Arcadia-Pierport Watershed Plan for multiple jurisdictions in Benzie and Manistee Counties to provide necessary data and policy guidance. 

Existing water quality conditions within the watershed as well as resident perceptions of water quality issues were first examined. In Lake Arcadia, for example, pH levels, temperature, and dissolved oxygen, were found in recent surveys to be above typical levels for waterbodies in the region, but below defined problematic levels. In addition, community input showed that year-round and seasonal residents cherish a healthy watershed but also underscored the need for more tools to address issues related to invasive species, point-source, and non-point source pollution.


Beckett & Raeder, Inc. proceeded to define priority protection areas within the watershed; lands such as wetlands, dunes, and aquifer recharge areas that affect water quality most directly and are thus critical to preserve. The team then proceeded with an analysis in which it assigned a priority score to each parcel within the watershed based on the presence or absence of twelve key variables representing these priority protection areas. The points for each individual attribute were totaled and displayed in a final priority map for all parcels. This map shows that large agricultural tracts of land in the central extent of the study area are key to preserving the watershed’s integrity. This report will serve as a guide on land use policy and other issues pertaining to water quality for communities within the watershed.

Arcadia Pierport Watershed Plan
Benzie & Manistee Counties, Michigan

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