Workshop emphasizes the importance of natural shorelines on inland lakes

Local educational partnership to teach inland lake shoreline property owners how to create, restore and manage natural shorelines to protect water quality and encourage wildlife.

Photo credit: Melanie Foose
Photo credit: Melanie Foose

Michigan State University Extension is sponsoring an educational workshop on Saturday, March 19, from 8:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. for those interested in creating, restoring and managing natural shorelines. The workshop, being held in Waterford, Mich. at the Waterford Oaks Lookout Lodge, is designed to educate interested lakefront property owners on natural erosion control methods and will discuss techniques for using natural landscaping along the shoreline to provide erosion control and habitat value while maintaining the aesthetic value of the lakefront. This workshop is co-sponsored by Cranbrook Institute of Science, Oakland County Parks and Recreation, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Clinton River Watershed Council, North Oakland Chapter of Wild Ones, Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner's Office and the Wildflower Association of Michigan (WAM). 

According to the United States Environmental Agency’s (EPA) National Lakes Assessment, the biggest problem in the nation’s lakes including those in Michigan is poor lakeshore habitat. With more than 11,000 inland lakes in Michigan, there are many threats to the shoreline and shallow water areas of lakes that provide essential habitat for many fish and wildlife species. Over time, increased shoreline development has resulted in the removal of native vegetation at the shoreline, which has often been replaced by highly maintained lawns down to the water’s edge, beach areas and seawalls, all of which negatively impact lake ecosystems. 

The shoreline, or the area that goes up onto the land and also extends into the shallow water area of a lake, provides critical areas for fish and wildlife species in Michigan’s inland lakes. Overdeveloped or degraded shorelines cannot support fish and wildlife, nor do they allow people to enjoy the many benefits of lake living. 

What can you do to contribute to the protection of your lake and ensure its enjoyment in the future? What specifically can you do to increase fish and wildlife along your shoreline? Help is available from the Michigan Natural Shoreline Partnership (MNSP) and a diverse group of statewide partners including MSU Extension. 

Featured workshop topics include healthy lake ecosystems, designing and maintaining natural landscapes on lake shorelines, bioengineering techniques to address high impact shorelines, using native plants in shoreline landscapes, attracting fish and wildlife to your shoreline, Michigan rules and regulations, and local examples of natural shoreline projects. Included is a hands-on opportunity to learn about native and invasive aquatic plants, led by Angela Depalma-Dow, with Michigan Clean Water CorpsExotic Plant Watch.

WAM is the newest local partner to join in on the planning of this workshop. WAM encourages the preservation and restoration of Michigan’s native plants and native plant communities. Board member Drew Lathin is on the workshop planning committee will be presenting on design ideas and native plants for natural shoreline landscapes. 

The workshop will include distinguished guests Dan Stencil, Executive Officer for Oakland County Parks and Recreation Commission and Jim Nash, Oakland County Water Resource Commissioner, who will welcome workshop participants and discuss the importance and value of inland lakes to Oakland County. 

Workshop registration includes a copy of the Natural Shoreline Landscapes on Michigan’s Inland Lakes: Guidebook for Property Owners. This publication can also be purchased from Shop MSU via the MSUE Bookstore

For complete information about this workshop, including online registration, visit their website. For more information on natural shorelines, visit the MSU Extension Fisheries and Wildlife page.

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