New shorelands program helps waterfront homeowners improve shorelines, inland lakes
July 12, 2016
The Michigan Natural Shoreline Partnership recently launched a program to help lakefront homeowners understand best practices to protect their shoreland and inland lakes. The Michigan Shoreland Stewards Program will recognize inland lake property owners who are using healthy property management practices to protect their inland lake and offer tips to improve the shoreline further.
The Michigan Natural Shoreline Partnership promotes the use of shoreline best management practices to protect and improve lakeshore habitat and water quality in Michigan’s inland lakes. It is a collaboration of state agencies, academia, nonprofit organizations and private industry. The DEQ has been a partner since 2008.
“Many people think owning lakefront property requires installing a seawall and clearing natural vegetation to make way for a huge lawn,” said Julia Kirkwood, chair of the Michigan Natural Shoreline Partnership and an environmental quality analyst at the DEQ. “But these types of activities change the lake ecosystem in ways that are hard to reverse.”
High-impact development activities like installing seawalls and other shoreline structures, clearing natural vegetation for lawns and buildings, and removing aquatic plants and fallen trees from the lake change the ecosystem and allow increased storm water runoff, increased shoreline erosion, and loss of habitat. As the lakeshore habitat deteriorates, animals such as birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish lose important breeding and feeding areas.
The 2007 National Lake Assessment, conducted by the DEQ in conjunction with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, indicates that the loss of lakeshore habitat is the biggest threat to the overall health of Michigan’s inland lakes. Shoreline and nearshore habitat was shown to be in poor condition in more than 40 percent of Michigan‘s inland lakes and in only fair condition in another 20 percent of lakes, according to the survey.
The Michigan Shoreland Stewards Program addresses this problem by providing recognition for property owners that are fostering natural shorelands on their properties. The program uses a web-based survey to ask property owners how they manage their properties to determine areas for improvement and potentially qualify 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.
“We hope property owners will complete the survey to recognize their stewardship potential,” said Joe Nohner, Resource Analyst, DNR, Fisheries Division. “And if a property does not meet the standards for a certificate, the property owner will be provided with suggestions to improve. Then we would encourage them to take the survey again once they’ve implemented changes to their practices.”
For more information about the Michigan Natural Shoreline Partnership, visit www.mishorelinepartnership.org. To take the Michigan Shoreland Stewardship Program survey, visit www.mishorelandstewards.org.
The DEQ is dedicated to respect for Michigan's citizens, stewardship of the environment, and support for a sustainable economy.