Monday, March 12, 2012

Saugatuck Dunes and the Kal Haven Trail Ultra: Help Me Help Evan Help the Dunes

Mentioned on this blog as the crazy jogger who kicks my ass at track workouts and tempo runs, Evan Groendyk is one of my best friends. Evan has a Bachelor's in Environmental Science, and has a special place in his heart for the Michigan out-of-doors. He convinced me to run the Kal Haven Race again. He and Alex are going to kill me, but it will be great to start the race with them. Mr. Groendyk has written th following note to call us to action. I'll let him explain it the way only he can:

Friends,

I normally do not use Facebook for this purpose, but I would sincerely appreciate it if you would disseminate this information to any and all who may be interested in this.

I am running my first "ultra" distance race on the 24th of March. It is the Kal-Haven trail race and you run from Kalamazoo to South Haven on the trail. I am doing so not only to experiment and learn some things about myself, but primarily to raise awareness for what is currently happening in Saugatuck, a neighboring community. A person by the name of Aubrey McClendon has recently been trying to develop this land. Allow me to paraphrase good old Wikipedia to accurately provide a condensed version of the dune drama:

"From 2004 to 2006, McClendon bought 400 acres of undeveloped duneland fronting Lake Michigan in Saugatuck Township, Michigan, for $39.5 million with plans to build luxury homes, 28 condos, a hotel, a marina and a golf course. In 2006, the Saugatuck Township Board rezoned the land to R-4, severely restricting the use of the land and requiring a PUD for any developmen. The Saugatuck Dunes Coastal Alliance opposes McClendon's plans, citing environmental concerns. In 2009, McClendon sold 171 acres of the land to a conservancy. In March 2010, McClendon sued the township in federal court to overturn the zoning. In July 2011, McClendon and the Township Board submitted a proposed Consent Agreement to the court for approval. In November 2011, Judge Maloney rejected the proposed Consent Agreement, but outlined a way for the parties to proceed toward a conclusion of the litigation."

My problem is that this gentleman will not take no for an answer. Who sues a township over zoning? It's crazy. So, my involvement in this race is to raise awareness and illuminate the wonderful group effort trying to protect this land. The Saugatuck Dunes Coastal Alliance is an organization dedicated to preserving this threatened landscape. They exist to protect one of the rarest ecosystems on earth: the freshwater dune. According to their website: "The Saugatuck Dunes Coastal Alliance is a coalition of individuals and organizations working cooperatively to protect and preserve the natural geography, historical heritage, and rural character of the Saugatuck Dunes coastal region in the Kalamazoo River Watershed, beginning with the Saugatuck Dunes."

So, if anyone could pass this along to their friends (copy/paste in email form) or just give me a big fat "like" that would be great. I am looking for people who want to donate to this group to help this important cause. There are two ways to donate.

Method 1: on-line thru their website ---> www.saugatuckdunescoastalalliance.org
Method 2: send them a check -----> PO 1013, Saugatuck, MI 49453

As an added bonus, a copy of the book Saugatuck Dunes: Artists Respond to a Freshwater Landscape will be given to every donor kicking in $20 dollars or more in my name. So send some cash over to these wonderful people if you can afford to give some. If not, tell your friends and try to support them in some other way!

Sincerely,

Evan Groendyk

There you have it. We'll be out there running. Spread the word and help the Dunes.
Me(borrowed middle school singlet), Alex(loud Brooks singlet) and Evan(thumb up)

Oil on canvas, MICHIGAN DUNES by Jens-Peter Kemmler

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