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Crystal Lake and Watershed Association


Crystal Lake &
Watershed Association
P.O. Box 89, Beulah, MI 49617
Phone: (231) 882-4001
FAX: (231) 882-7810
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Crystal Lake
Boating Access Site




Pictorial History of the Facility

Crystal Lake Boat Launch Settlement Approved!!!

Crystal Lake Boat Launch Settlement

Launch Area Alternative Design

Revised Parking Area Site Plan

Past Status Reports



The Mollineaux Road Boat Launch Facility is complete.

See the "
Pictorial History" section below for recent and older photos of this project.

The Michigan DNR’s Crystal Lake Boating Access Site opened with a formal dedication on June 7, 2012.

The site has seen heavy use on summer holidays and some weekends, with moderate use at other times.

CLWA continues with plans to build and operate a boat-washing station in the upper parking area to prevent the spread of invasive species such as quagga mussels and VHS virus into Crystal Lake.
A lease agreement for the boat wash has been finalized with the DNR. The state is working with Consumers Energy to bring electrical service to the site.

A CLWA fund-raising event on July 14 generated private donations to finance the building of the boat wash.

  • NOVEMBER 6, 2011

Paving crews began applying asphalt to the parking lot and interior roads at the site on Saturday, November 5, and installed the finish layer on November 6.

This is an important step in the construction process, as it will allow rain and snowmelt to enter the storm water pipes and flow through a filtration system before being discharged into Crystal Lake.

The paving, along with completion of the storm water system, should also minimize the erosion that has been a continuing problem since construction began on the hillside site.

Work still remaining includes:

  • finishing the new alignment for the Betsie Valley Trail
  • detail work on the stairway between the parking lot and the launch ramp 
  • repairs to concrete damaged by recent rains
  • bathroom installation
  • some excavation, tree planting, wetland restorationand dormant seeding.

The main floating dock has been installed. The DNR will build two "skid piers" for the launch ramps over the winter and install them in the spring.

The revised schedule calls for "substantial completion" by November 18, and finalcompletion four weeks later. Weather conditions may cause some delays. It's not clear when boats will be allowed to launch. The site technically remains a construction site until final completion.

  • AUGUST 25, 2011 — Work continues through the summer

Work on the Crystal Lake Boating Access Site is continuing through the summer, with completion now expected in late fall. Dredging of the lake bottom is anticipated to begin about Aug. 29. The entry road off Mollineaux Road has been excavated to its approximate final contours. Drivers can now visualize the appearance of the project from that location.

Much work remains on the interior of the site, including paving, some concrete work, some underground drainage, dredging, installation of the launch ramps, and revegetation of the entire site.

A large water retention basin on the east side of the site has been dug out and shaped. Workers are installing drainage structures on the road corridor down the bluff between the parking area and the shoreline. The stairway is under construction. The launch maneuver area near the shoreline has been cleared and graded, but is not yet ready for paving.

CLWA is finalizing plans to build and operate a boat washing station in the upper parking area, under a lease with the Department of Natural Resources. Work on that facility must wait for completion of the overall project.

  • FEBRUARY 24, 2011 — Work limited during the winter months

Work on the Crystal Lake Boat Launch has been limited during the winter months. The DNR's contractor, Jaran Construction, has been on the site part-time, removing trees, moving materials, and doing other work as weather permits. The construction site has been off-limits to ice fishermen. Jaran expects to resume excavation and other heavy construction work in April.

The contract with the DNR requires that all disturbed soil must be reseeded or revegetated quickly. Turf seeds laid along the new Mollineaux Road alignment in late fall may not have taken. The contractor has indicated he will reseed that area in the spring.

The current construction schedule anticipates completion of the project and opening of the launch approximately Labor Day 2011.

  • NOVEMBER 9, 2010 — Mollineaux Road / M-115 intersection now open; work continues

The barricades came down Nov. 9, and the rebuilt section of Mollineaux Road reopened to traffic. The new road section loops slightly to the north and than back to create a right angle intersection with M-115.

Crews will clean up and reseed the roadsides in the next few days. Then, weather permitting, they will move on to the construction of parking lots, access roads, and storm sewerson the interior of the large boat launch site.

Construction of the actual launch ramps is now expected to wait until spring of 2011.

The contractor hopes to begin earth-moving yet this fall for the access road that will extend down the bluff to Crystal Lake. Some tree cutting and excavation is also possible at the base of the bluff.

The plan calls for installing temporary sedimentation control devices along with any hillside excavation. The old railroad berm that supports the Betsie Valley Trail will be left in place over the winter as an erosion barrier.

  • NOVEMBER 3, 2010 — Mollineaux Road / M-115 intersection paved

On Tuesday, Nov. 2, crews began installing the asphalt paving on the re-aligned intersection of Mollineaux Road and M-115. The intersection is expected to reopento traffic by the weekend. The work had been delayed until power lines and poles on the site could be moved.

With completion of the road work, the contractor, Jaran Construction, can begin excavation of parking lots, drainage lines and access roads inside the site. No more paving is expected until spring, as the asphalt companies are about to close down for the winter months. Some work at the site will likely continue this fall, as long as weather permits.

CLWA continues to be concerned about the possibility of winter and spring erosion on unfinished segments of the project. The contractor and the state officials overseeing the project are aware of our concern and have committed to take all action to prevent erosion.

  • SEPTEMBER 15, 2010 — Construction continues: rebuilding Mollineaux Road intersection at M-115

Construction continues at the Crystal Lake Boat Launch site, with the focus on rebuilding the intersection of M-115 and Mollineaux Road. Mollineaux Road is closed at the intersection, effective Sept. 15, and will likely remain closed for two to four weeks.

Contractors have begun excavation of the road shoulder, and are waiting on Consumers Energy to move a power pole and relocate wires across the site.

A construction entrance will be maintained off M-115. Drivers are reminded to take extra care at this location, since trucks and equipment may be entering or leaving the site.

The contractor will continue with work on parking lots, access roads drainage and other site development after the intersection is reopened. At present, it appears that paving of parking lots and the access road to the lakeshore may take place either late this fall or in early spring. Completion of the project is anticipated in spring of 2011.

  • AUGUST 2010 — Boat Launch Work begins

For better or worse, the state boat launch on Crystal Lake is becoming a reality. Work has commenced at the site, near M-115 and Mollineaux Road, and state officials expect the project to be complete in the spring of 2011. CLWA challenged the state plans in 2004, and battled long and hard for design changes to protect wetlands and water quality. In a court settlement this past spring, the Department of Natural Resources and Environment agreed to changes that will result in less wetland destructon, less lake-bottom dredging and less hard-surface parking.

CLWA will continue monitoring the site through the construction project, and provide regular updates on this website. Check back often.


When project is complete....
  • Location: Southeast coast of Crystal Lake, entrance at the eaat intersection of M-115 and Mollineaux Road (just east of Benzonia).

  • Facilities: Boat launch, parking, stairs from parking lot to lake and boat launch, boat cleaning station


Pictorial History of the Mollineaux Road Boat Launch Facility

Crystal Lake Boat Launch Settlement Approved !!! Smile!

An agreement between government agencies and citizen groups will allow construction of a state boat launch on Crystal Lake, ending years of controversy in Benzie County. As part of a settlement entered in Benzie County Circuit Court on March 31, 2010, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment (DNRE) agreed to make changes that will reduce the project’s impact on the environment and on adjacent property owners. (The former Department of Natural Resources, MDNR, and Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) were eliminated with the creation of the new "DNRE" effective January 13, 2010.)

Crystal Lake Boat Launch Settlement

Crystal Lake Boat Launch Settlement Letter (PDF document, 2 pages, 152 kB, see here for details.)

Launch Area Alternative Design

Launch Area Alternate Design (PDF document, 1 page, 1.8 mB, see here for details.)

Revised Parking Area Site Plan

Revised Parking Area Site Plan (PDF document, 1 page, 2.1 mB, see here for details.)

Past Status Reports

Update from Spring/Summer 2010, Vol. 6, No. 2 (PDF document, 8 pages, 2.3 mB, see here for details.)

Update from
Fall/Winter 2009, Vol. 6, No. 1 (PDF document, 6 pages, 412, see here for details.)

Update from
Spring/Summer 2007, Vol 3, No. 2 (PDF document, 4 pages, 328 kB, see here for details.)

Update from Fall/Winter 2006, Vol 3, No. 1 (PDF document12 pages, 1.8 mB, see here for details.)


The MDNR has searched for a suitable site on Crystal Lake to construct a boat launch for use by the public. After rejection of several sites, the current site on the steep slope between the junction of Mollineaux Road and State Route M-115 and the southwest shoreline of Crystal Lake was finally selected. A series of informational meetings were held at which conceptionalized drawings were presented for informal comment. A permit application by MDNR was received by MDNR on October 29, 2003. Engineering drawings and specifications were made available to the public in early 2004. A public hearing was held on February 25, 2004. A permit was issued by MDEQ on May 25, 2004 which is being contested at the present time. During the initial discussions of the proposed project, the Crystal Lake Watershed Fund, Inc. (CLWF) and the Crystal Lake Association (CLA) partnered in the development of a joint resolution as follows:

"Be it resolved that, the Crystal Lake Association and the Crystal Lake Watershed Fund support open access to Crystal Lake for fishing and recreational activities consistent with retaining the ongoing natural resource of this world class lake. The organizations support the view that the lake should be protected for the benefit of future generations of Benzie County residents and others seeking the beauty of this unspoiled environment."

A joint letter, addressed to Mr. William Boik of the State of Michigan Parks Department was sent jointly from the two organizations. The letter requested the assurance of the DNR/DEQ to abide by the same rules and regulations that govern public citizens in the development and implementation of their plans.

[See the CLWF newsletter
Crystal Shorelines Update #15, Winter 2002 for the complete list of concerns. (PDF document, 42 kB. See here for details.)]

The issue, the concerns, a proposed alternative, and precedents are outlined in the following summary:


  • Crystal Lake, Benzie Co., is a very large deepwater Lake.
  • The small watershed is surrounded by forested ridges.
  • Water quality is extremely oligotrophic.
  • MDNR has proposed a public boat launch. A permit has been issued.
  • (MDEQ File No. 03-10-0044-P)


  • General: location, size, traffic, & safety.
  • Environmental: stormwater runoff and sanitary wastes.
  • Stormwater to be treated in a package treatment plant.
  • Sediment & gasoline/oil to be removed and disposed.
  • Nutrients & coliform bacteria removal not specified.
  • Overflow to be discharged directly into Crystal Lake.

Proposed Alternative:

  • Topography is very steep between ridge & lakeshore.
  • Site is split bet. Crystal Lake & Betsie River Watersheds.
  • Intercept stormwater & wastewater at the shore.
  • Pump combined flows to ridge top for treatment.
  • Divert treated effluent into wetlands for polishing.


  • Crystal Lake Overlay District has been established.
  • Septic systems are inspected before any property sale.
  • Direct discharges into the Lake are prohibited.
  • Cold Creek flows through Sediment Basin before the Lake.
  • Village of Beulah sewage is diverted to disposal ponds.

Detailed comments were provided on behalf of the CLWF at the public hearing conducted by MDEQ on February 25, 2004. These comments addressed the inadequacy of the proposed water and wastewater treatment system which is to be discharged directly into Crystal Lake. an alternative system was proposed consisting of onsite collection and treatment of storm water and wastewater followed by offsite diversion of treated effluent into the wetlands of the neighboring Betsie River Watershed for final polishing.

Alternative Stormwater and Wastewater Treatment - CLWF Comments with Map
(PDF document, 332 kB. See here for details.)

The proposed MDNR boat launch facility design does not consider the feasible alternative of onsite collection and treatment followed by offsite diversion of treated stormwater/wastewater. The proposed package treatment system only removes gross solids and oils, and not soluble nutrients or coliform bacteria. Partially treated wastewater, still containing these undesirable and invisible pollutants, is to be pumped directly into Crystal Lake through an 18" discharge pipe!

Alternatively, stormwater and wastewater could be intercepted at the shoreline, but then treated and diverted away from the Lake into wetlands of the adjoining Betsie River Watershed. A detention basin and the package treatment plant can be built as low impact environmentally pleasing structures near the high ridge running across the SW corner of the site near Mollineaux Road. Treated effluent is diverted entirely away from Crystal Lake and into uninhabited portions of wetlands for final polishing to remove nutrients and bacteria just like our septic system drain fields.

MDNR Permit Application (10/29/03) & Permit Granted (05/25/03)
(PDF document, 5.3 mB. See here for details.)

Additional Articles:
For additional observations and viewpoints on the boat launch facility, see the following MLUI articles:


About the Watershed

Watershed FAQ

Concerns & Issues

Management Plan

MDNR Boat Launch

Public Access Sites
About the CLWA

• Water Quality

Education & Communications

• Zoning & Land Use

• Development

• Ad Hoc & Special Committees

• Calendar
• Membership Form

• Newsletters

• References

• Watershedware

Selected Web Links