What’s Next for Grand Lake St. Marys?

This is the final installment in the Lake Improvement Association’s Education Series for Grand Lake St. Marys. If you’ve been keeping up with us, you’ve learned that Grand Lake St. Marys was once the jewel of Ohio, a tourist attraction and economic hub that boasted a rollercoaster and amusement park, island hopping fun, and some of the best sport fishing in the Midwest.

You’ve also learned how certain issues, over time, have led to the degradation of Ohio’s Other Great Lake and jeopardized not only the lake as a natural resource, but the well-being of all who work, live, and play in the watershed through the loss of many millions of dollars of revenue.

Fortunately, the solutions for fixing Grand Lake St. Marys are at our fingertips – all you have to do is read Volume IV: GLSM Solutions to know that. But the dedicated few who have made it this far along the path to restoring Grand Lake St. Marys can’t do it alone. We need your help; but of course, you have a choice. There are three potential outcomes for Grand Lake St. Marys. Which will it be?

Grand Lake St. Marys: Future #1


In this scenario, we do nothing – or at least, very little to restore Grand Lake St. Marys. After our initial round of funding is spent, the public – you – loses interest. The media stops covering us. We are no longer a squeaky wheel, and we lose importance at the statehouse.

headstoneWithout local volunteers, donors, and state and federal dollars, the lake suffers. Producers ignore nutrient management best practices, and legislation that would otherwise protect the lake is not enforced. The lake continues to degrade.

In 25 years, Grand Lake St. Marys ceases to exist.  The flora and fauna cannot sustain; fish and fowl die.  Tourism dies long before this, however, and the region has nothing to offer to outside investors.  Businesses close; viable businesses leave, and investors scoff at the idea of locating in our area.

We lose jobs, our cities and villages cannot maintain the streets and utilities, many pack up and leave forever. Grand Lake St. Marys is a ghost town; or, more appropriately, a ghost swamp, a cess pool beyond repair. The lake dies, and all of the hard work, spirit, and passion of the people it supported die along with it.

Grand Lake St. Marys, Rest In Peace

Grand Lake St. Marys, Future #2


In this scenario, we support Grand Lake St. Marys and help restore her; but once the water is good enough to swim and boat in, we stop caring. All the hard work that helped us restore Grand Lake St. Marys backslides, and the process starts all over again.

shovelIn 25 to 50 years, we’re back to where we started. The lake degrades; toxic algal blooms resurface. Our grandchildren are left with the burden of forming committees to restore Grand Lake St. Marys. They must repeat the actions we are taking now, and they must suffer the poor water conditions and lost revenues we have the opportunity to fix. They ask us, “How did this happen?”

Our only honest answer? “It happened because we were lazy.”
Sorry, kiddos, you’ve got a lot of work to do.

Grand Lake St. Marys:  Future #3



In this scenario, we all go to work to support the restoration of Grand Lake St. Marys. The community rallies around the effort, and we all take the necessary action to help fund the lake via donations, to pressure our elected officials to get us the funds and legislation needed to restore and maintain the lake, and we stop taking our greatest natural resource for granted and start enjoying the fruits of our labor once it is restored.

This approach transcends an action plan; once it is accomplished, we must still remain dedicated to preserving Grand Lake St. Marys in practice. The lake must return to a central cultural focal point; and we must seek opportunities to make it even more grand than before.

health We must transform Grand Lake St. Marys to a clean and healthy lake. Then, we must invest time, energy, and money into enterprise that will put the lake on the map for tourism to fuel our economy – locally and for every individual who lives, works, and plays in the watershed.

Ask “What if?” What if we had a luxury resort? What if we had island attractions? What if he had an amusement park? What if?

And then ask “How can we make it happen,” or, most appropriate: “How can I make it happen?” Because ultimately, it is up to you. We often spend our time talking about the way things should be, but the best way to make it happen is to take the initiative yourself.

Innovate. Share. Initiate. Dream. Discover. Create. Enjoy.

Grand Lake St. Marys was once the jewel of Ohio – the “Midwest’s Vacation Land,” and it can be so again.

Imagine. What if? A boardwalk? A restaurant? A night club? A ferris wheel? A swim-up bar? National acts?

What could Grand Lake St. Marys be in 25 years? It could be anything. It could be the most bountiful attraction in the state of Ohio once again. It could be whatever you want it to be.

How can you make it happen? And why should you make it happen?
Because Grand Lake St. Marys could be your goldmine.

What Do I Do Now?

The future of Grand Lake St. Marys depends on you.

Yesterday, Grand Lake St. Marys was indeed the grandest of them all. Today it is in trouble. What tomorrow brings is unknown.

We can do nothing and allow the lake to meet its end. Or, we can work together to return Grand Lake St. Marys to its former glory and power as a famous recreation hub and thriving economic boon. You can start by downloading your Personal Action Plan.