Help us Save GO•REC…

GO·REC is in peril. We want to welcome everyone to our property.
This should be a legacy. Our land and waters should not be a private playground. 
Scroll down for answers to your questions …and please take action.

Some people think that, by opening our trails, facilities, and lake access to the public, we pose a threat to the environment and to surrounding neighborhoods. Unfortunately, a great deal of misinformation is fueling this opposition. We’d like to set the record straight.

Are we open now?

We are temporarily limited to offering our amenities and onsite programs exclusively to overnight visitors. That means, only those who can pay to stay are allowed on the property.

Will you reopen for daily visitors?

By opening the gates to the public, we are sharing the land and water we treasure with the entire community. That is why we have filed this PUD application with East Bay Township in order to extend full access to our facilities to those not staying overnight. If approved, members of the public will be allowed to come back for the day to hike, bike or ski our trails, play disc golf, paddle kayaks and canoes and participate in our other outdoor recreation and education programming. A PUD is allowed in all zoning districts within East Bay Township. Click to here see.

However, our application is facing intense opposition by some of our neighbors.

Has GO·REC tried to collaborate?

Yes. We deeply appreciate thoughtful questions and advice we’ve received, and we feel fortunate to have neighbors and community members who care as deeply about Rennie Lake and the surrounding natural environment as we do. 

GO·REC and Rotary Camps & Services’ leaders have met with our opponents numerous times since early 2020. In response, over the last two years we have elevated our commitment as stewards of this environment.

On September 13, 2020 GO•REC responded to neighbors’ concerns with commitments to common sense best practices and provided additional information:

  • No Motorized Boats
  • No Developed Launch
  • Yes to a Boat Wash Station
  • Yes to Limited Launches
  • We Shared Our GTRLC Easement, and…
  • We Provided Our Number to Call with Concerns.

We followed up with these commitments in writing on September 13, 2020. Click Here to Read.

We met with opposition leaders in March, August, September, November 2020, and January 2021. Every time, we reasserted our commitments to environmental protection.

In November 2021, we further committed to an even higher standard as part of settling a lawsuit filed by our opponents. We agreed to limit public boat access to classes and overnight users while requiring all offsite boats to be washed with a high pressure, hot water system. Click Here to Read.

Is GO·REC an Event Center?

No. GO•REC is an outdoor education and recreation center. Our mission is to be a gateway to outdoor recreation that adheres to industry practices.

To fulfill our mission, we have filed a PUD application that, if approved, would allow us to host classes and other events that are compatible with our quiet, remote, natural setting as well as our goal of preserving and protecting this land.

Examples of the kinds of events we would host include a 6-person kayaking class, a 30-person wilderness medicine class, a 100-person outdoors woman meetup, a 300-person wedding, a 420-person regional outdoor leadership conference. 

It’s important to note here that GO•REC is situated on 498 acres. The footprint of the area where we would host a 300-person wedding, for instance, is 12 acres buffered by a minimum of 650 feet on all sides.

Are we exploiting natural resources?

Like other organizations, GO·REC must be self-sustaining entity in order to continue operating. Like over 47% of nonprofits, GO•REC supports its mission through fees and services. By adding fee-based classes, leased venue space, camping and cabin rentals, we can sustain day-to-day operation of the education center and ensure access to trails and other outdoor amenities, leadership skill training, and recreational safety programs for adults and families throughout our communities.

Why not direct monetization?

Our mission is to get people outside. Entrance fees shut out people and communities who are under resourced. The data supports how important outdoors is for mental and physical health. So we are committed to people of all walks of life feeling empowered to live healthier lives outdoors. It is not in our best interest or in service to our mission to charge entrance fees. Fees for facilities and services that people are accustomed to paying — classes, venue space, camping and cabin rentals — sustains day-to-day operations and ensures open access to our outdoor spaces. And it subsidizes leadership skill training and recreational safety programs for adults and families with demonstrated need. 

Medium to large-sized events?

We’re listening. Based on feedback we’ve heard, we reduced the requested capacity and frequency of several types of events. This is what is in our current application (read here):

Unlimited classes, trainings, and small events up to 30 guests. We’ve held these in the past, including How to Use Map & Compass (2019, 2020, 2021), Wilderness First Aid (2020, 2021), Wilderness First Responder (2020, 2021), Paddlesports Safety Facilitator (2019, 2020, 2021), Kayak Instructor (2021), How to Plan a Trip (2021). Potential future events would be similar.

Up to 50 events per year that are between 30 and 100 guests, . We’ve held these in the past, including Camp Greilick Staff Alumni Reunions (2018 and 2019) and Old Mission Peninsula School Events (2021). Examples of potential future events we’d like to invite would be Vasa Ski Club Events, Grand Traverse Conservation District classes, or Becoming and Outdoors Woman gatherings.

Up to 20 events per year of up to 420 guests. We’ve held these in the past, including the Michigan Adventure Race (2019) and TC Trail Fest Mountain Bike Race (2021). Examples of potential future events we’d like to invite would include the International Conference on Outdoor Leadership and other regional conferences in outdoor leadership. 

Any events larger than 420 guests will require a special Transient Activity Permit through East Bay Township. And we will not host more than one large-sized or transient activity event at the same time, nor will we host them concurrently with mid-sized events.

Why weddings?

A couple gathering with family and friends to marry, surrounded by trees and open sky in our 300-seat outdoor amphitheater, then walking along a wood chip trail to our lodge that accommodates 420, is no less an outdoor experience than hiking or camping. An event like this is consistent with our mission to give people access to outdoor spaces.

The 12 summer weddings we’ve asked for are a portion of the 20 large events we’ve requested in this PUD application.

How many guests?

If full, our campground accommodates up to 232 guests. With every cabin and campsite rented at full capacity, we could have a total of 348 overnight guests spread across 40 acres. 

Events and activities will not be overbooked and will stay within the capacity of the available parking spaces. We have 157 slots dedicated to day use. Parking for events larger than 300 guests will be managed with either off-site parking arrangements (i.e., a school parking lot) or supported by available overnight parking spaces.

How much traffic?

Traffic demands from our PUD would not significantly increase traffic volumes on the surrounding road network. Traffic related to camping and cabins as well as small and mid-sized events have already been occurring at this property. They are spread out across different arrival and departure times. Traffic from the largest-sized event of 420 people would be 168 vehicles (2.5 people per car) one way or a total of 336 vehicle trips for one day. Significantly less than drop-off day for Scouts.

How many guests did Scouts have?

For more than 60 years, Scouts held outdoor education events that have been acknowledged by the township. In fact, a 1999 report by Boy Scouts Scenic Trails Council shows that overall annual attendance had risen to over 12,000 by 1998. This includes over 1600 visitors who were not Scouts. Click here for Camp Greilick Attendance.

Boy Scouts Attendance

What are we building?

Nothing. There is no development proposed in this PUD.

This PUD request is to allow GO•REC to use existing acreage, trails, structures, waterfront and features for day use activities and events. We are NOT building a housing development, a boat ramp, or any new structures. Far from it. Existing buildings are being reused, already existing roadways are being re-graveled, parking lots are already located through the campus, and utilities are present and in good condition to support the proposed uses. In fact, in response to concerns we’ve heard, we are planning to remove some structures.

How many boats?

Rennie Lake neighbors agreed to allow us up to 60 boats on Rennie Lake. We agreed to limit public boat access to classes and overnight users while requiring all offsite boats to be washed with a high pressure, hot water system. Click Here to Read.

Even with this agreement, It would be rare for there to be 60 boats on the water from our site at any one time. Such occurrences will be limited to an event such as an adventure race. And we have committed in our PUD application to limit the frequency of such events and to washing any boats involved.

Motor boats?

No. GO•REC has not used motorized watercraft in any of our programs and has no plans to do so. Boating is limited to NON-motorized watercraft only — like kayaks, canoes, and paddle boards — with the exception of a motorized vessel for service or emergency. Also available will be adaptive watercraft for individuals with disabilities.

Responsible recreation?

Yes. We care deeply about our impact on not only our land but all of the spaces we recreate in and enjoy. Leave No Trace (LNT) is the outdoor industry’s standard of conservation commitment. GO•REC has been partners with Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics since 2019. In addition to offering LNT educational programming, all full-time staff is LNT trained and our educational director is a Master Educator Trainer. We aspire to LNT principles in everything we do.

That’s why GO•REC consulted with an aquatic invasive species expert at MSU in October of 2020. And all GO•REC staff has now completed MSU’s Paddle Stewards program (click to see). All offsite boats are required to be washed with a high pressure, hot water system we purchased. This is above and beyond accepted industry practice. 

In addition to purchasing 3 boot brush stations from the Grand Traverse Conservation District in October of 2020, GO•REC spent months conferring with experts in water quality, conservation, environmental science, and others at local, state and federal levels. State of Michigan Department of Natural Resources Officers stated our policies and education exceeded state requirements.

Is the environment protected?

Yes. All 498.9 acres are protected by a Conservation Easement. The easement exists as an agreement with the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy (GTRLC). It protects the property’s predominately natural, scenic, forested, and open space condition from any other type of development and allows for outdoor education and recreation. GTRLC monitors the property annually to assess ongoing compliance, usage, and potential impacts to conservation values. And this easement stays with the land, regardless of who owns it next. Click here to read.

Are we licensed?

Yes. Our license to operate children’s camps has been through the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) since at least 2001. Click here to see current license. We are licensed, in addition, for 64 sites as a campground through the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes & Energy (EGLE). You can find a copy of our campground license by clicking here. East Bay Township has recognized our non-conforming use to provide camping and cabin rentals and for overnight campers to participate in recreation and education. Click here to read.

If you love the outdoors and share our belief in social good through outdoor recreation and education, please support our application with the East Bay Township Planning Commission.

  • Write an email to the East Bay Township Planning Commission. Let them know that you support the GO•REC PUD application. Share your commitment to equitable access to outdoor recreation and tell them what you love about GO•REC!
  • Attend the East Bay Township Trustees meeting when we present updates to our PUD application. Offer public comment about why open access to GO•REC facilities and programs is vital to our community.

Scheduled: Monday, May 9, 2022 at 6:30 PM, EST
Location: East Bay Township Hall (1965 N Three Mile Rd, Traverse City, MI 49696)

  • Share this information with friends, families, neighbors and colleagues who, like you, are committed to social good through outdoor recreation and education.

We are deeply grateful for your support!