Trail plan for Saugatuck-Douglas

The Tri-Community Master Trail Plan for Saugatuck and Douglas is an effort spearheaded by local resident Jon Vanderbeek of Sweet Spot Studio. The plan proposes to conserve large tracts of greenspace in the Saugatuck-Douglas area and connect the tracts with a network of trails.

The video below and the two maps that follow provide an excellent overview of the project. You learn about this effort on their Facebook page or donate to the cause on their GoFundMe page.

A couple of related documents:

Energy Plan open house November 10

Consumers Energy, the electric utility that serves our area, has recently been touting its Clean Energy Plan. The graphic below provides a quick overview of the main ideas.

Our Clean Energy Plan [is] a road map for protecting the environment and embracing innovative, affordable energy solutions. By 2040, we plan to achieve net zero carbon emissions and meet 90 percent of Michigan’s energy needs with clean resources.

Consumers Energy website

The company has been holding a series of Zoom-based “open houses.” The next one will be November 10 from 1:30 to 2:15 pm. Customers are invited to learn more, provide input, and ask questions about the technologies, opportunities, and challenges involved in the plan.

Rain Garden Revival

Well a pandemic can throw a wrench into your environmental education plans! So we have revived our goal of learning together about Rain Gardens and how they can benefit our community — and how to build them — by taking the whole movement online. 

But wait! Why build rain gardens at all? 

A rain garden is designed and planted to collect and absorb stormwater runoff from a roof, driveway or other hard surfaces. By doing this, the garden can slow down water movement while filtering pollutants the rain gathers in its cycle, before the water can enter our rivers, lakes and groundwater. 

That’s pretty great, but they also reduce flooding, refresh the groundwater, and look nice too! 

Amazing fact: one inch of rain can capture and clean 600 gallons of water in a typical rain garden. They are so useful, cities and towns all over the world are encouraging rain gardening, especially in places where water resources are fragile. 

Our friends in Washtenaw County, where a wonderful and successful rain gardening movement has taken root (!), have made their amazing, self-paced, online Master Rain Gardener class free to anyone who registers before June 1, 2020. 

We are hoping to gather — working online, and of course in our gardens — a local group of folks interested in developing rain gardens at their homes and businesses. The idea is that we learn, do, and help each other with information, resources, advice, and encouragement. 

The online course includes five hour-long classes and time to do outdoor homework. It’s homework that involves planning a garden, so you know it’s not really homework at all, just fun for the inner gardener!

The online, free Washtenaw County class also has a wonderful Facebook group, where people from all over are sharing their homework, and where their Rain Gardener Masters and course alumni are present to help answer our questions. 

Here is the link to the online course, free as long as you register before June 1, 2020:

And here is a link to the Washtenaw County Facebook group:

And if you want to join the Saugatuck-Douglas local group of rain gardeners, learning and working together on the class and on homework, sign up here:

Losing the Dark: How the IDA helps us understand light pollution and what we can do about it.

Dark Skies Michigan

On January 21 at 6:30 pm, please come to hear Peter Burkey speak on the over-lighting of our skies and the effect this trend has had on our health and the health of neighboring species.
The event will be held in the Douglas UCC Friendship Hall, 56 Wall Street, in Douglas, Michigan. Peter has been a supporter of the International Dark Sky Association for decades, and is an advocate for quality, dark-sky-friendly lighting. His talk will include information on the effects of poor lighting and how they can be remedied.
Peter Burkey is a retired high school teacher who taught mathematics, physics, and astronomy at Fennville HS for over thirty years.  He was also an adjunct professor of astronomy at Hope College for several years after retirement.
During his teaching career, he received training in astronomy education at NASA’s Lewis Research Center (now the John Glenn Research Center) near Cleveland, OH, and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, MA.
Peter has been a member of the Shoreline Amateur Astronomical Association since 1989 and has given numerous presentations and demonstrations to people of all backgrounds and ages.
He has been a supporter of International Dark Sky Association for decades and is an advocate for quality, dark-sky-friendly lighting.  His talk will include information on the effects of poor lighting and how they can be remedied.

Movie Night, Paris to Pittsburgh, Nov 19, 6:30pm

Paris to Pittsburgh

Movie Night: Paris to Pittsburgh, November 19, 6:30pm, DUCC Friendship Hall, 56 Wall Street, Douglas, MI

On November 19, Douglas UCC Creation Justice team will host another Movie Night at the DUCC Friendship Hall, 56 Wall Street, Douglas.

This time we will be screening the Bloomberg Philanthropies documentary, “Paris to Pittsburgh.” Doors will open at 6:30 for popcorn. Bring your own Beverage. Movie starts promptly at 7pm.

Named Inc. Magazine’s best business documentary of 2018, PARIS TO PITTSBURGH focuses on the incredible action individuals, communities, businesses and local governments in the U.S. have undertaken to combat the threat of climate change in their own backyards in the wake of the US withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement.

The film explores the very real social and economic effects of climate change-fueled disasters – from America’s heartland to the nation’s coastlines and the island of Puerto Rico. The premise of the documentary is based on a Twitter response from Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto to President Trump the moment he pulled out of the Paris Agreement.

With devastating fires and hurricanes occurring with more frequency as the planet warms; the new federal report in which 300 scientists warn of the financial devastation and innumerable lives at risk as a result of climate change if more isn’t done soon; and a national debate raging over the United States’ energy future, the film poignantly captures what’s at stake for communities around the country and their commitment to effecting real change in reducing carbon emissions.

DUCC welcomes Douglas and Saugatuck residents to screen the film and then talk about it and what awareness-building and actions we can accomplish in our own communities. This talk is part of the education series conducted by Douglas UCC’s Creation Justice Team. 


Help us Clean the Beaches this Weekend?

oval beach

Oval Beach! Douglas Beach! The pride of our towns! And they need your help. DUCC has taken on the Adopt-a-Beach cleanup for our beautiful beaches. We’ll be working this coming Saturday, September 21, from 9am to 12 pm.

Please come with gloves and good shoes, dressed for the weather. We will put you to work. If you think you can make it, please email us, letting us know how many in your party at

Oh! And include your phone number so we can reach out in case of rescheduling:

Lisa’s Letter to the Governor of Michigan — Will you sign?

Fellow resident Lisa Lenzo has a great plan, and she would like your help reaching out to Governor Whitmer. She has posted this letter on her Facebook wall. If you’d like to add your name as a signee on the letter, place your name(s) in the comments below. Thank you!

Photos below:  Lisa’s granddaughter Cialyn holding the caterpillar she raised, named Oscar.

Dear Governor Whitmer,

I have a suggestion that would benefit Michigan’s environment–specifically, monarch butterflies but also other pollinators–and it might also save the state some money.

On a recent trip home to Michigan through Indiana on Highway 31, I noticed that the highway median in Indiana was not mowed, and that one of the main plants growing in that median was milkweed–miles and miles of milkweed, which is the main host plant for monarch caterpillars. But as soon as we crossed over the Michigan border, the U.S. 31 median was mowed in its entirety and very close to the ground.

My suggestion is to refrain from mowing the medians of Michigan highways except for once a year, which would prevent the growth of saplings. This mowing should take place at the end of October, since both butterflies and bees count on nectar and pollen throughout Michigan’s growing season and monarchs especially need fuel in the fall for their long migration to Mexico. Because some milkweed grows along the sides of Michigan highways and milkweed naturally spread their seed, the unmowed medians would soon sprout milkweed as well as other native wildflowers. Naturalizing the medians would also benefit honeybees, native wild bees, and other pollinators, which would in turn benefit Michigan’s cultivated crops as well as our natural world.

Creating more habitat for monarchs and other pollinators is in line with Michigan’s approach to conservation, as stated on the DNR’s website page devoted to monarch butterflies: “Grasslands, vitally important to many species, including monarchs and other pollinators, have become increasingly rare. . . (and) . . . making sure pollinators have habitat that supports milkweed and other native, flowering plants is important to preserving these key species.”

Please consider my simple plan to increase grassland and wildflower habitat by naturalizing Michigan’s highway medians. This would benefit us all, and I believe it would be fairly easy to implement. We don’t want our children and grandchildren to ask, Where have all the flowers gone? And we also don’t want them to ask, What happened to all the butterflies?

I have asked my friends, family, and anyone else who agrees with this letter to add their names to it. Thank you for considering my suggestion, as well as for all the work you do for our great state.


Lisa Lenzo

Image may contain: 1 person, sitting and plant
Image may contain: plant and nature
Image may contain: plant and nature
Image may contain: plant and nature
No photo description available.

Help Us Clean the Highway?

adopt a highway

Douglas UCC’s Creation Justice team invites any of our neighbors who would like to help clean up the stretch of US196 that hugs our cities and township to join us in our Adopt-A-Highway project to clear the trash along the highway.

We have scheduled two cleanup periods for the spring, July 13 from 9am to noon and July 16 from 4 to 7pm.

You will review a training video, receive safety vests and cleaning equipment. Bring gloves and dress to protect yourself from sun and bugs. For each event, we ask that you follow one of the links below to grab a free “ticket,” so that we may get a good count of volunteers and easily communicate with you in case of rescheduling for weather.

To sign up for Saturday, July 13 from 9am to 12pm, click here:

To sign up for Tuesday, July 16 from 4 to 7pm, click here:



Community Read: Braiding Sweetgrass

Braiding Sweetgrass Ad-01

It’s hard to imagine the Autumn right now, isn’t it? We only want you to imagine it enough to sign up and save the date for our next Community-wide read of Robin Wall Kimmerer’s amazing book, Braiding Sweetgrass. It’s the perfect book to read over the summer months, we promise. And discussing it together, sharing in the community wisdom and concern for our environment promises to make for a moving and movment-making evening.

But first, if you are game to join us, please sign up for a spot. We filled the house with the last discussion, and we cap out at 55 participants. We will start a waiting list, and if it gets long enough, we will repeat the discussion on the following night.


Bee Informed: Honey Bee Science and How to Help


On Tuesday, May 7, from 6:30 to 8:30 pm, at the Douglas UCC Friendship Hall, 56 Wall Street in Douglas, Michigan, Anne Marie Fauvel, Tech Team Coordinator for the Bee Informed Partnership based at the University of Maryland, will share the latest data on Honey Bee populations in Michigan, and how we can manage our own landscapes to help these important populations thrive.

Grand Haven-based Fauvel is charged with the logistics of five mobile regional technical-transfer teams working directly with commercial beekeepers, to bridge the gap between industry and academic research.

The Tech-Teams lead the sampling effort to collect copious amount of data on colony health, management and treatment data and act as consultant with their regional and national perspectives. Fauvel also teaches at Grand Valley State University and is the apiarist on campus managing the small GVSU Meijer Campus Apiary in Holland Michigan.

She will build the case for the importance of the honey bee and their current population state in the United States and Michigan.

Are honey bee populations declining? And are pesticides to blame? Fauvel will discuss the many causes of colony losses and give example of local and national programs, and research efforts to better understand colony health and improve colony survivorship through best management practices.

Learn more about Fauvel and the Bee Informed Partnership at

This program is free and open to the public.