Workshop offers options for protecting shorelines

Workshop will educate inland lake property owners about natural solutions that can be used/adopted/developed for shoreline and water quality protection.

Plants help protect an inland lake shoreline. | Photo by Jim Brueck
Plants help protect an inland lake shoreline. | Photo by Jim Brueck

Shorelines are a natural transition zone between land and water that provide critical habitat for a variety of fish and wildlife species. Fish use these areas for spawning, protection, and food, while numerous species of birds, amphibians, reptiles, and insects require the water’s edge for survival. In addition, trees, shrubs, and other native plants hold the shoreline in place with their deep roots and guard the land from waves produced by wind and boats with their stems. The vegetation also acts as a buffer zone, capturing nutrients and runoff from the land above the lakeshore. By preserving/promoting a natural shoreline, we help the lake maintain a beautiful and ecologically healthy condition.

Unfortunately, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 2007 National Lakes Assessment, the most critical issue facing the nation’s lakes, including those in Michigan, is shoreline development. Over-development of shorelines often results in the loss of the beneficial vegetation that maintains good water quality and diverse wildlife associated with lakes. Buildings and paved surfaces that are too close to a lake can increase runoff, which delivers pollutants and extra nutrients to the lake. Mowed lawns that reach the water’s edge have little wildlife benefit and, due to over fertilization and shallow roots, can lead to shoreline erosion and algal blooms. Residential development on Michigan’s more than 11,000 inland lakes is only expected to increase, and without proactive approaches, the health of many more lakes may become compromised.

Michigan State University Extension is sponsoring an educational workshop, “Protecting Your Shoreline: A Workshop for Inland Lakefront Property Owners” on Saturday, March 25th, from 8:30- 3:30 p.m. for those interested in creating, restoring and managing natural shorelines. The workshop, being held at the Oakland County Executive Office Building Conference Center in Waterford, MI, 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, and Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner's Office.

This workshop will include information on healthy lake ecosystems, designing and maintaining natural lakescapes 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.

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

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