Plan a road trip to a Michigan Natural Shoreline Partnership demonstration site for shoreline ideas

Publicly accessible shorelines across the state provide a palate of choices for those who wish to enhance/restore/protect their inland lake’s shoreline.

In July 2014, the North American Lake Management Society (NALMS) promoted Lakes Appreciation Month to those who enjoy inland lakes across the continent. It is not too late to do something special for these amazing resources. In Michigan, there are more than 11,000 inland lakes with more than 23,500 miles of shoreline. It is not hard to understand why so many people are attracted to life that revolves around the many splendors of lake living: clean water, beautiful views, habitat that supports a variety of fish and wildlife species and access to endless recreational opportunities, including boating, fishing and swimming.

In order for our lakes to continue to provide all of these benefits, it is critical to keep the shoreline natural. There has been growing interest in the importance of natural shorelines in the last few years. A natural shoreline provides many benefits to a lake ecosystem. It protects a lake from erosion and the effects of wave and ice action. Natural shorelines can also provide habitat for many species of fish and wildlife and help to protect water quality. For example, shoreline vegetation (both root systems and accompanying soil) help filter out excess nutrients and contaminants and keep them out of lakes.

Whether you are planning your lakefront dream home or just want to see what your shoreline might be, the Michigan Natural Shoreline Partnership (MNSP) can help. MNSP is a diverse group of statewide partners including Michigan State University Extension. MNSP’s goals are to train contractors and landscape professionals who work at the water’s edge, educate lake residents about the importance of natural shorelines, provide demonstration shoreline landscapes that people can visit to see what can be done to combat issues encountered at the water’s edge, and encourage local and state policies that promote natural shoreline management.

MNSP has installed a number of projects across the state so that inland lake shoreline property owners can learn about natural shorelines and be exposed to a variety of bioengineering techniques which involve the use of living and nonliving plant material in combination with natural and synthetic support to stabilize shorelines. To date, sites are located in Casnovia, Ypsilanti Township, Brighton, Cadillac, Paw Paw, Curtis, and Gull Lake. Visit the MNSP web site for more information, including before and after photographs and locations on these natural shoreline demonstrations.

Consider investing in the Natural Shoreline Landscapes on Michigan’s Inland Lakes: Guidebook for Property Owners if you are ready to take the next step in transforming your site into a natural shoreline. This resource is available for purchase from the MSU Extension Bookstore.

Regardless of whether it is Lakes Appreciation Month or not, consider setting aside a little bit of time each and every month to get to know more about your lakeshore. How about starting today by planning an upcoming trip to visit a natural shoreline?

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