Shoreline protection program for Charlevoix County lakefront owners

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New program helps lakefront homeowners improve shorelines

The Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council worked with the Michigan Natural Shoreline Partnership (MNSP) to launch a program that helps inland lake homeowners understand the connection between their shoreline practices and the health of the lake ecosystem.

The Michigan Shoreland Stewards Program is a web-based survey that provides recognition for property owners who are using healthy management practices to protect their lake and provides resources to help manage a property for a healthy lake.

The Michigan Shoreland Stewards Program is just one of the outreach and education efforts of the MNSP.

It began to take shape in early 2015, when MNSP asked Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council, a member of MNSP, to help develop the program.

Based in Northern Michigan, the organization was deemed well equipped to take on this role because of its strong connections with local lake associations in its Northern Michigan service area.

Lake associations and property owners all over Northern Michigan have joined the program since its premier in April.

Over 250 people have taken the next step in learning about how to find the balance between protecting the lake and managing their property.

“For some managing a shoreland property means removing natural vegetation to provide access to the lake or putting in a seawall to stop erosion,” says Eli Baker, Huron Pines AmeriCorps member serving at the Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council. “But many don’t realize that those types of practices can have impacts on the health of the lake.”

High impact developments such as removing native plants on the land and in the water, excessive impervious surfaces (buildings, driveways, etc.) and seawalls are changing the lake ecosystem and disrupting natural habitats for wildlife and fish.

According to the National Lakes Assessment forty percent (40%) of Michigan’s inland lakes were rated as poor with another twenty percent (20%) rated as fair for lakeshore habitat.

The Michigan Shoreland Stewards Program works to address this problem by asking property owners how they manage their properties to determine areas for improvement and potentially qualify them for a certificate of recognition.

Recognized Shoreland Stewards have the option of purchasing a low-cost sign for their properties to promote natural shorelines on their lake.

“Not only can you learn how to protect the lake waters and prevent erosion, you may also keep those pesky geese away,” said Hal Willens, Vice President of the Pickerel Crooked Lakes Association. “And if you already have a healthy shoreline, you can receive a recognition plaque to encourage your neighbors. There are even resources for beautiful native plants to add to your landscape and the appropriate people to help you accomplish your goals. I encourage you to try out the website today.”

The Michigan Shoreland Stewards Program also offers Lake Associations the option to register their organization on the website.

For more information on how to register on the website go to www.mishorelandstewards.org

If you own lakefront property and are interested in being recognized for your good management practices or you want to see how your property rates, the Michigan Shoreland Stewards Program is here for you!

For more information on the Michigan Natural Shoreline Partnership, visit www.mishorelinepartnership.org

To take the Michigan Shoreland Stewardship Program survey visit www.mishorelandstewards.org