Workshop teaches about the importance of natural shorelines on inland lakes

This is a great time to learn how to create, restore and manage natural shorelines to promote water quality and encourage wildlife.

Example of natural shoreline planting with live plant stakes and a coir log. Photo by Beth Clawson | Michigan State University Extension
Example of natural shoreline planting with live plant stakes and a coir log. Photo by Beth Clawson | Michigan State University Extension

People have always been attracted to the many splendors of lake living. Michigan residents seek clean water, striking views, natural habitats that support a variety of fish and wildlife species; and access to recreational opportunities including boating, fishing and swimming. By using softshore landscaping approaches all of these can be preserved or restored helping to maintain clean water, abundant wildlife and continued superb fishing in Michigan.

Softshore landscaping for shorelines is a natural planting that acts as a buffer as compared to a seawall which is a hard structure. Seawalls are designed to block wave action from reaching the shore and eroding the land. These structures can be made from concrete, wood, rocks, and other hard surfaces and frequently cause increased damage by scouring the neighboring sides that do not have something in place. Natural shorelines are created from fabrics, plants and other natural materials that support and stabilize the shore utilizing bioengineering techniques. Many times bioengineering is found to create areas that are more stable than hard seawalls.

The Michigan Natural Shoreline Partnership (MNSP), a diverse group of statewide partners including Michigan State University Extension, MDEQ, and Michigan Lake & Stream Associations whose goals are to train contractors and landscape professionals who work at the water’s edge and educate lake residents about the importance of natural shorelines. They also provide demonstrations of shoreline landscapes that people can visit and encourage local and state policies that continue promote local natural shoreline management.

These places are examples in action for others to see what they can do to combat issues encountered at the water’s edge. In north central Michigan, three separate trainings are planned that run from 4:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Thursday, April 28 in Clare County; Tuesday, May 3 in Isabella County; and Thursday, May 12 in Wexford County. The Michigan Natural Shoreline Landscapes educational workshop is for anyone interested in creating, restoring and managing natural shorelines. This workshop is designed to educate those interested in helping to manage lakefront property on natural erosion control methods. Attendees will learn techniques for using natural landscaping with native plants along the shoreline to provide erosion control and habitat value while maintaining the aesthetic value of the lakefront.

  • Highlighted topics include:
  • Healthy lake ecosystems
  • Designing and maintaining natural shoreline lakescapes
  • Basic bioengineering techniques
  •  Using native plants and aquatic invasive plants
  •  Attracting fish and wildlife
  • Rules and regulations
  • Local examples of natural shoreline projects

For complete information about this workshop, visit the MSU Extension events registration page. Workshop participants will receive The Natural Shoreline Landscapes on Michigan’s Inland Lakes: Guidebook for Property Owners. This is an excellent resource on the topic of natural shoreline landscaping which will help individuals take the next step in helping to protect Michigan’s inland lakes. For additional copies, this publication can be purchased from Shop MSU via the MSU Extension Bookstore.

Workshop partners include Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Little Forks Conservancy, North Country CISMA and the Master Gardener Program. Visit the MNSP web site throughout the year to check for other educational events scheduled throughout the year. For more information on natural shorelines, visit the MSU Extension Fisheries and Wildlife page.

For more information about these Protecting Your Shoreline: A Workshop for Inland Lakefront Property Owners, please call Marybeth Denton at MSU Extension in Clare County at 989-539-7805, or stop by the Clare County Building, located at 225 West Main Street, Harrison, Monday through Thursday, 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

For more information about invasive aquatic plants contact Beth Clawson, MSU Extension educator. To learn more about invasive organisms and invasive aquatic plants contact Michigan State University Extension Natural Resources educators who are working across Michigan to provide aquatic invasive species educational programming and assistance. You can contact an educator through MSU Extension’s “Find an Expert” search tool using the keywords “Natural Resources Water Quality.”

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