Become a steward of Michigan's inland lakes

Go from a concerned resident to a super scientist by getting involved with programs like the Cooperative Lakes Monitoring Program and Introduction to Lakes.

Photo by Dr. Jo Latimore, Michigan State University Extension
Photo by Dr. Jo Latimore, Michigan State University Extension

Here in Michigan, we are the proud stewards of the Great Lakes and over 11,000 inland lakes. Our more famous Great Lakes are large enough to see from space while our smaller inland lakes can be much less than a single square mile. However, regardless of their size, lakes enhance Michiganders’ quality of life by providing clean drinking water, food, beautiful aesthetics and recreational enjoyment. From a community perspective, lakes also provide an invaluable asset that gives a community a sense of place and a rich economic resource. Our lakes bring visitors from around the world who enjoy not only their beauty, but also the boundless recreational opportunities they offer.

With these benefits comes responsibility. Many people who utilize lakes for fishing and boating invest much of their time and money into being on the lake. These users and lake residents are in the unique position to be involved with the protection, wise-use and long-term water quality monitoring of lakes they call home. While environmental emergencies impacting lake health can happen overnight, often changes occur slowly and only people who regularly visit or live near them notice. Therefore, it is important for residents and long-term users to take an active role in lake management. This can be accomplished through the participation in lake protection organizations, volunteer water quality monitoring and environmental education courses.

Volunteer Water Monitoring

Riparian owners and lake users play important roles in lake protection. Citizen scientists, such as volunteer lake monitors, can influence the protection of lakes first-hand without needing a significant amount of specialized education or a background in science. Monitoring may sound daunting, but programs such as the Michigan Clean Water Corps Cooperative Lakes Monitoring Program empower concerned residents to be involved with lake management through the collection of water quality and invasive species data. The program is designed to educate, train and support volunteer lake monitors and with this data citizens can make educated decisions on how to protect the quality of their lake. The benefits reach beyond a local lake, as the Department of Environmental Quality values volunteer data and funds the MiCorps program.

If you are interested in being involved first-hand with the Cooperative Lakes Monitoring Program visit the MiCorps website to find everything you need to get started. Registration is open now through early spring.

Online Lake Learning

Another way to gain knowledge about water quality and lake protection is through educational courses such as Michigan State University Extension’s Introduction to Lakes course. The course is designed for riparians, local decision makers, resource professionals and concerned citizens with the purpose of increasing knowledge of basic lake ecology principles and techniques for lake protection. The six-week online course discusses aquatic plants, water law, shorelines, citizen involvement and more. The class also offers webinar opportunities to talk to experts on lake related topics. Students who complete Introduction to Lakes will automatically receive a free one-year Michigan Lakes and Stream Association (MLSA) membership. Members of the MLSA can attend workshops, seminars, meetings and special events through which they can learn about the use and wise management of Michigan’s inland lakes and streams. Introduction to Lakes runs January 23 to March 9, 2018. Registration is open now through January 16, 2018. Registration is $115 per person and there is an early bird registration price of $95 per person if you register by December 22, 2017. 

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