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Deam Family Series on the Arts & the Environment
Posted: Aug 5, 2016

The Deam Family Series on the Arts & the Environment is an annual event hosted by the Coastal Alliance to both celebrate the persistent stewardship by generations of the Deam family of the Saugatuck Dunes and to showcase leading voices in the environmental & arts community with the Saugatuck-Douglas community.

This year we are fortunate to host a panel of dunes scientists on August 22th at 6:30 in the Saugatuck Yacht Club. The evening will include a discussion of new dunes science that will improve the way dunes development is managed followed by questions and answers. The event will conclude with a reception with beer, wine, and light hors d’oeuvres on the Saugatuck Yacht Club patio overlooking Kalamazoo Lake.

Motivated by debate surrounding development in Michigan’s dunes following the weakening of Michigan’s Critical Dunes Act in 2012, the Michigan Environmental Council began discussions with many of the state’s leading academic researchers, with the idea of providing stronger science to the management of our dunes. The result of those conversations is the paper, “Bringing the Latest Science to Management of Michigan’s Coastal Dunes” (www.environmentalcouncil.org/coastaldunes).

Michigan’s world-class coastal dunes provide ecologic, geologic and economic value to our state’s coastal communities. They attract new residents and millions of visitors to our shorelines. In the process, they challenge us to weigh our enjoyment of the dunes against the need to protect them and live in greater harmony with their dynamic, evolving character.

While not explicitly calling for new dune research, the changes to the Critical Dune Act recognized the importance of science for effective dune management, specifically calling for the application of “the most comprehensive, accurate, and reliable information and scientific data available” in fulfilling the Act’s purpose.

The Michigan Environmental Council’s initiative is a direct response to that call, intended to make science a fuller partner in the management of our dunes. In the decades since that passage of Michigan’s first law dealing with the coastal dunes was adopted, scholars have certainly advanced the state of scientific knowledge about Michigan’s world-class coastal dunes, including sharpening our understanding of when and how dunes formed, their role in supporting native species and natural features, and some of the factors influencing their highly dynamic nature.

The focus of ““Bringing the Latest Science to Management of Michigan’s Coastal Dunes” is intended to better equip Michigan with this information, summarizing the best and most up-to-date picture of the dunes themselves, pushing the science forward, and finding the best, most useful, and most interesting innovations among the various management programs and systems in place to support dunes in Michigan and elsewhere, allowing the state and its coastal communities to engage in true, science-based management of this unique and vital coastal resource.

Brad Garmon, Director of Conservation and Emerging Issues at the Michigan Environmental Council, will provide an overview and moderate the presentations and discussion, which he broadly characterizes as "what have we learned" and "what's next?" from three scientists who participated in creating the paper.

Other panelists include: Alan F. Arbogast, Professor and Chairperson in the Department of Geography, Environment, and Spatial Sciences at Michigan State University; Suzanne Devries-Zimmerman of Hope College; and Robert B. Richardson, Associate Professor in the Department of Community Sustainability at
Michigan State University.

Please join us for the 2016 Deam Family Series on the Arts & the Environment.

The DEAM Family
The DEAM family has long been an inspiration to those living in and/or visiting the Saugatuck Dunes area, especially given their long history with the Oxbow School of Art, the lightness with which they live on the land at the Old Saugatuck Lighthouse, and the lengths to which they have gone to protect the Oxbow Peninsula from inappropriate development.

The DEAM Family began vacationing at the Old Saugatuck Lighthouse in the early thirties, which they then acquired in 1937. Arthur DEAM was President of the Oxbow School of Art for more than fifteen years. The DEAM family continues to access their vacation home via canoe or on foot, in fact they have even recently transported a piano to their home via twin canoes paddling slowly and carefully across the Oxbow Lagoon (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3fAWwNKi-p0).

The DEAM family is truly an inspiration as they embody the Saugatuck spirit many of us hope will endure for many, many generations to come.

What the DEAM family has done for our community, our little slice of lakeshore and duneland, should not be forgotten; so it is with great honor that the Coastal Alliance hosts the annual DEAM Family series on the Arts & the Environment.

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P.O. Box 1013 • Saugatuck, MI 49453 • (269) 857-1842 • coastalalliance@me.com