Longtime Great Lakes advocate and environmental historian Dave Dempsey will speak about the importance of researching White Lake’s environmental history at 6:30 p.m., February 19, at the White Lake Community Library, 3900 White Lake Drive, in Whitehall.
Dempsey will present his views on the “how, what and why of environmental history, in support of the White Lake Environmental History Project. “ “The lessons of a community’s environmental history can build on a shared past and inspire hope and optimism for the future,” Dempsey says. “Environmental history isn’t boring dates and facts. Each community has its unique stories that are important for setting its course through history.”
Dempsey, an environmental policy consultant and writer, has worked on behalf of Great Lakes conservation for more than 25 years. Now a resident of St. Paul, Minnesota, he was born and spent most of his life in Michigan. Dempsey is the author of the only full-length environmental history of Michigan, “Ruin and Recovery: Michigan’s Rise as a Conservation Leader.” He is also the author of “On the Brink: The Great Lakes in the 21st Century” and a biography of Governor Milliken, as well as a winner of the 2009 Michigan Author Award.
His most recent book, “Ink Trails: Michigan’s Famous and Forgotten Authors,” co-authored with his brother, Jack Dempsey, has been selected for inclusion on the 2013 list of Michigan Notable Books. Dempsey has also held numerous administrative, policy and consulting positions for nonprofit conservation and environmental organizations in Michigan and Minnesota. He is currently a policy advisor for the International Joint Commission, which monitors environmental agreements between the U.S. and Canada.
Shelley Williams, director of the White Lake Community Library, is pleased to sponsor a visit by the notable author. “Dave Dempsey exemplifies the spirit of the White Lake Environmental History Project – how learning about our environmental history can help us create a positive path forward. I hope members of the public can attend this important event!”
“Dave Dempsey will help put our local environmental history project in the proper context,” according to local environmentalist and consultant Tanya Cabala, who is assisting the library with the project. “As a noted Great Lakes environmental history author, he sees the ‘big picture’ and can demonstrate to us how communities like ours fit into the important story of restoring the Great Lakes.“
White Lake was once called “ White Lake the Beautiful” for its contribution to the area’s natural beauty, recreation, and a robust resort and tourism era. A subsequent era of chemical manufacturing catapulted the lake and its small community into the national spotlight as a poster child for industrial pollution. As a result, in 1985, White Lake was designated one of 43 “toxic hot spots,” or Great Lakes Areas of Concern by state and federal environmental authorities, qualifying it for a special cleanup effort. Significant progress has been made at restoring White Lake, which is due to be removed from the list of Great Lakes Areas of Concern in in the next several years.
The goal of the White Lake Environmental History Project is for residents and visitors of the area to learn about and understand the impact of White Lake’s environmental history, including its historical industrial era and community restoration efforts. Visit www.restoringwhitelake.com for more information.