The program encourages lake friendly best management practices such as minimizing lawn size and hard surfaces and maintaining native trees, flowers and aquatic plants to share the shore with the fish and wildlife that live there.
Since it was launched in April 2016, over 1,100 inland lake property owners from 286 lakes have taken the Shoreland Stewards Survey. Of these participants 70 percent of the properties have qualified to be a Shoreland Steward at the Gold, Silver or Bronze level. The Gold level provides the most protection for the lake and wildlife habitat. A sign can be purchased for qualifying properties on the Michigan Lakes and Streams Association website.
These results equate to over 1,728 acres and 123,380 linear feet of shoreline of property of registered participants (registered participants represent 43 percent of all participants) helping to keep Michigan's inland lakes clean. The five-year goal of 50,000 linear feet qualifying for the program has been exceeded in year four by 246 percent. Preventing lake water quality decline keeps the water clean for people and wildlife and costs less money than restoration efforts.
Lake groups can also register at the MI Shoreland Stewards website and use the educational resources to build awareness to help owners make lake healthy decisions about their property. There are currently, 32 lake groups registered on the website. The five-year goal is to have 100 lake groups registered.
The Torch Lake Association did an outreach push during the summer of 2019 after which most of their participants took the survey. Currently, Torch Lake, east of Traverse City, has the most participants with 113 and 78 qualifying properties. Glen Lake, west of Traverse City, has the most qualifying properties with 80 out of 99 participants.
Connecting with lake residents takes time and a lot of shared responsibility and effort. Most importantly it takes an openness of lakefront property owners to learn what they can do on their property to help their lake and of planning commissions to put in place lake-wide protections at the local level.
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. Take the Shoreland Stewards Survey and find out if your property qualifies as a Shoreland Steward. While not every property can qualify every lakefront property owner can do something, even if it is a small native plant garden instead of lawn. Every little bit helps.
You can help to spread the word in a number of ways:
Believe that you can make a difference — become a MI Shoreland Stewards Ambassador.