Take a few minutes to learn about your lake by visiting the Michigan Natural Shoreline website

Great educational resources are available for those who want to get a better appreciation of the importance of natural shorelines around inland lakes.

In July 2014, the North American Lake Management Society promoted Lakes Appreciation Month for those who enjoy Michigan’s more than 11,000 inland lakes. If you have not yet had a chance to do something special for these amazing resources, you can still take part in this celebration even as it ends. There are some great educational resources out there about the benefits of natural shorelines to inland lakes, which would make great summer reading material and enhance your appreciation for your lake!

A number of resources are all available at the Michigan Shoreline Partnership (MNSP) website. MNSP is a diverse group of statewide partners, including Michigan State University Extension. MNSP works 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. This is a great source of information on practically everything related to natural shorelines, including educational offerings, educational resources and lists of Certified Natural Shoreline Professionals and Shoreline Educators who can assist you in understanding the importance of, and in designing/installing, a natural shoreline. Consider taking a look at these five educational and entertaining resources:

  1. Natural Shorelines for Inland Lakes: This short brochure gives key information about why lakeshore property owners should consider natural shorelines and explains how you can incorporate bioengineering, or a method which uses living and nonliving plant materials in combination with natural and synthetic support to stabilize the shore, into your shoreline landscape. Benefits of bioengineering along with cost comparison for various shoreline techniques are also provided.
  2. The Water’s Edge: Helping fish and wildlife on your lakeshore property: This brochure is another easy-to-read resource which explains how you can enjoy all the benefits lakes provide, while also helping fish and wildlife along your shoreline.
  3. Larry, the All-American Bullfrog: This entertaining but extremely brief video reminds us of the importance of keeping the shoreline natural and warns of the danger of tidying the shoreline too much. The star of this video, Larry the Bullfrog, playfully explains the importance of natural shorelines including a combination of tall vegetation and submerged vegetation so that frogs can maintain critical habitat that allows them access to food, shelter, what they need to reproduce and the ability to transition between land and water.
  4. Sebastian the Goose: Another short video stars Sebastian the Goose, who brags about all the benefits he reaps from lush, manicured lawn at the water’s edge, including a place to eat, sleep and poop up to twenty-eight times a day all the while being able to clearly see any potential predators that may be lurking.
  5. Landscaping for Water Quality: This full-color resource guide which can help homeowners improve water quality by preventing erosion, reducing flooding, saving water and providing habitat for wildlife in areas such as around inland lakes. It includes tips on garden planning and designing, including assessing property, considering the desired uses and needs for the particular garden area, ways to encourage infiltration, preparing the site and installing the garden. Sample garden layouts and plant lists are also included to help select the right plant for the right place.
  6. Natural Shoreline Landscapes on Michigan’s Inland Lakes: Guidebook for Property Owners (Available for purchase from the MSU Extension Bookstore. ): Consider purchasing this excellent primer on the topic of natural shorelines for those who are ready to take the next step in protecting and/or restoring natural shorelines to protect Michigan’s abundant inland lakes.

Before Lakes Appreciation Month comes to an end, take the time to get to know your lakeshore better. Better yet, consider sharing some or all of these resources with residents around your lake.

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