The Clark Lake Spirit Foundation

Standing Up for Clark Lake

Welcome to this website brought to you as a public service of The Clark Lake Spirit Foundation. Formerly known as The Clark Lake Foundation, the name changed in early summer 2013.

The Foundation was created in February, 1997, as a non-profit organization. Over the years it has provided support in a number of ways including fundraising; and in turn, providing funds for worthwhile Clark Lake projects. What are some examples of those projects? Please read on!

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Near the County Park, east end of Clark Lake

Fighting Invasive Species
In summer 2014, DNA testing confirmed that an invasive weed, Eurasian water milfoil and its hybrid, had found its way to Clark Lake. This weed multiplies and spreads wildly. The densely packed weeds around the County Park at the east end illustrated what this species can do.  It took hold in several areas of our lake, but fortunately the infestation was detected early.

Other lakes in the region have learned the hard way what an invasion of this kind can mean. Because of the sheer number and density of the weeds, boating, fishing and swimming are curtailed. These invasive weeds also destroy natural habitat causing great ecological damage. A real estate agent commented that where this problem is unchecked, property values suffer.

The Clark Lake Spirit Foundation has adopted the mission statement of “Standing Up for Clark Lake”. This website, a service of the Foundation, provided detailed coverage of the problem, including the research dedicated to solutions (find it under the Invasive Weeds tab). The Foundation also financed an extensive survey of the lake that included a report on control and eradication methods. In support of the project, the Foundation accepted donations and disbursed funds on behalf of the Clark Lake Invasive Species Committee. The Committee consisted mostly of Clark Lake homeowners who are concerned about the lake’s future and are working diligently to address the problem.

With the Foundation’s financial support, a portion of the 25 acres in the lake was treated in summer 2014.  Treatment was limited to four acres because of riparian rights restrictions.  The Committee circulated petitions to establish a special assessment district so treatment could take place anywhere the weed was found in the lake.  By spring 2016, a survey found 30 acres of the weed in the lake. With the special assessment district operating, those 30 acres were treated strategically in summer 2016

The Clark Lake Spirit Foundation will continue to lend its support and expertise to the effort.

Fortifying the dam at Ocean Beach
Have you ever wondered what Clark Lake would look like if you could magically drain it for the day? What discoveries—sunken steam ferries, wooden inboards and the like—lurk in the deep waters off the drop-off? We nearly had a chance to see what the entire lake would look like with its level reduced by two feet or more. But unlike the fantasy just described, this drop in water level was a starkly real threat—and the results could have been nightmarish.

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Reconstruction Project

By fall 2012, the dam at Ocean Beach, which regulates the lake level, was showing its age and the infrastructure was crumbling. Observers reported water was seeking a path around the base of the dam and seeping through. With winter closing in, there would be the repeated action of ice freezing and expanding, and then thawing and contracting. Smaller cracks could easily become larger with a growing cascade of water further eroding the soil around it, widening the path, and finally destroying the dam. The rushing water would create our own version of the Grand Canyon and possibly flood whatever lay in its path downstream. The loss of huge quantities of water could drop the lake level by two or more feet. Fortunately that dark scenario was not allowed to take place. The Clark Lake Spirit Foundation stepped up and stopped the decay.

The Foundation hired and paid for a contractor to fortify the dam. A solid new concrete section replaced the weakened area. Four-thousand dollars later the problem was solved. But when it came to making this repair, you might ask “why wouldn’t our tax dollars cover the cost?” Jackson County, its Road Commission and Drain Commission refused. When this became clear, the Clark Lake Spirit Foundation, representing the interests of all of us at the lake, took action to ensure the integrity of this very important structure.

Examples of other Foundation projects

The structure was floated to the County Park at the east end of the lake, and there it became the Clark Lake Community Center.

The structure was floated to the County Park at the east end of the lake, and there it became the Clark Lake Community Center.

The Clark Lake Spirit Foundation is supported by people who love the lake. In turn, the Foundation has provided funds and expertise, along with others, for improvements and innovations that enhance our enjoyment of this wonderful place.

Here are some of the projects where the Foundation has been involved—the construction of the Spirit Trail, moving the Kentucky Point house to the County Park so it could become the Community Center, contributing to the maintenance of the Clark Lake Cemetery, helping the Clark Lake Garden Angels, purchase of playground equipment for Miller and Brooklyn Elementary, grants for an asphalt walking track at Brooklyn Elementary and soccer field at Columbia High School.

The newly built pavilion at the Columbia Township Park, west end of Clark Lake.

The pavilion at the Columbia Township Park, west end of Clark Lake.

In 2013 the Foundation provided a grant to help with the construction of the new pavilion in the Columbia Township Park.

In summer 2014, the Foundation sponsored a fund-raiser designed to bring the lake community together to commemorate Fleet 58.  At one time, more Hobie Cats sailed Clark Lake than any other U.S. inland lake–it was called Fleet 58.  The years had diminished the number of Hobies on the lake, but had the Fleet 58 spirit declined as well?  No!  The Foundation’s Fleet 58 Reunion and Regatta held July 6th was a resounding success.  Twenty-five Hobies competed for awards. And the 2014 boat count showed a significant increase in the lake’s Hobie population.  The event was co-sponsored by the Clark Lake Yacht Club.

The Clark Lake Spirit Foundation also supports this website.  In it, you’ll find reports on current activities, information on encounters with nature, lake history, and much more.  From anywhere in the world, you can view live 24/7 video of the dam at Ocean Beach–the DamCam.  The website is also a volunteer effort. No one is paid to create the content or operate the website, but there are technical third-party expenses associated with it.

Your support is vital
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The Foundation exists to improve the Clark Lake experience that we all cherish. And it’s because of people like you that the Foundation is able to help these and other deserving causes. Your continued support makes all the difference. If you’re thinking about a tax-advantaged donation to the Clark Lake Spirit Foundation, you should know that it is needed, will be greatly appreciated, and used wisely.

Your donation is tax-advantaged for the Spirit Trail, Run Clark Lake, Raft-o-Rama, Walleye Association, Garden Angels, Crab Races, Invasive Species Committee or the Foundation general fund (supports this website).

You can make the donation with your credit card. Just click here. Or you can make out a check to The Clark Lake Spirit Foundation. Please note which organization you wish to benefit. The mailing address is PO Box 224, Clarklake, MI 49234. Donations of securities are also welcome. Both Rick Belcher (president) and Ann Swain (treasurer) are available to answer questions. They look forward to hearing from you.

Thank you, in advance! Email contact: clarklakespirit@gmail.com.

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