Upcoming workshop teaches homeowners about the importance of natural shorelines on inland lakes

Winter is the time to learn how to create, restore and manage natural shorelines to promote water quality and encourage wildlife.

Photo credit: Jane Herbert
Photo credit: Jane Herbert

Michigan residents have long since been attracted to the many splendors of lake living. Whether to enjoy the clean water, picturesque views, habitat that supports a variety of fish and wildlife species, and/or access to recreational opportunities including boating, fishing and swimming, there is something for everyone. 

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increased shoreline development has resulted in the removal of native vegetation at the shoreline, which has often been replaced by highly maintained lawns down to the water’s edge, beach areas and seawalls, all of which negatively impact lake ecosystems.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, provides critical areas for countless fish and wildlife species in Michigan’s inland lakes. You may have witnessed various forms of wildlife, including waterfowl, frogs, otters, and deer. The list goes on. As far as fish go, our inland lakes contain an astonishing 154 species of fish, 23 of which are threatened, endangered, or of special concern. Sadly, five species have already been extirpated, and are no longer found in Michigan. 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), a diverse group of statewide partners including Michigan State University Extension, whose 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. This is a great source of information on practically everything related to natural shorelines, including educational offerings, resources, and lists of Certified Natural Shoreline Professionals and Shoreline Educators who can assist you in understanding of, and in designing/installing, a natural shoreline. 

On Saturday, March 28, 2015 from 8:30-3:30 p.m., MSU Extension is sponsoring an educational workshop for those interested in creating, restoring and managing natural shorelines. This workshop 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. 

Featured workshop topics include 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, shoreline invasive plants to watch for, Michigan rules and regulations, and local examples of natural shoreline projects.  This workshop will be held at Cranbrook Institute of Science in Bloomfield Hills. 

One past workshop participant stated “I’m really excited about this workshop… we live on a lake with hardly any natural areas… we need more natural shorelines.” Husband and wife participants shared “We are very excited about all that we learned here. Before it was something that seemed cool to do but we didn’t know where to start… now we feel like we know what we need to do to actually put a natural shoreline in.”  

Workshop participants will receive an excellent resource on the topic of natural shorelines which will help individuals ready to take the next step in helping to protect Michigan’s inland lakes. 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.

Workshop partners include Cranbrook Institute of Science, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Oakland County Parks and Recreation, Oakland Conservation District, Clinton River Watershed Council, North Oakland Chapter of Wild Ones, and the Oakland County Water Resource Commissioner’s Office

For complete information about this workshop, visit the MSU Extension events webpage

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.

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