Lakes convention attracts hundreds of lakeshore owners and professionals

The inaugural Michigan Inland Lakes Convention brought participants from across Michigan and beyond for three days of hands-on workshops, presentations and networking.

Citizen scientists (volunteers with MLSA’s Cooperative Lakes Monitoring Program) were trained on how to identify both native and invasive aquatic plants.  Photo credit: Angela De Palma-Dow l MSU Extension

Citizen scientists (volunteers with MLSA’s Cooperative Lakes Monitoring Program) were trained on how to identify both native and invasive aquatic plants. Photo credit: Angela De Palma-Dow l MSU Extension

Informative, inspiring and highly organized were just a few of the words used to describe the inaugural three day Michigan Inland Lakes Convention: Partnering to Protect Michigan’s Inland Lakes. The event, hosted by the Michigan Inland Lakes Partnership (MILP) May 1-3, 2014 at Boyne Mountain Resort in Boyne Falls, Michigan attracted 372 lake enthusiasts, professionals, researchers, local government officials and students. Breakout sessions and workshops covered a multitude of inland lake topics, including lake management, aquatic invasive species, natural shorelines, and law. The event included eight hands-on workshops, over 30 presentations, a guided tour of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) Oden Fish Hatchery and over 50 exhibits focused on Michigan’s inland lakes.

Participants were asked to complete a questionnaire about their learning and overall Convention experience. Their feedback will be used to improve future Conventions. Of the 128 responses, highlights included:

  • Over 90 percent of participants indicated the Convention was a good use of their time, met their expectations, had knowledgeable presenters, and provided useful information.
  • Over 75 percent increased their lake leadership, lake stewardship and confidence to address threats to their lake.
  • Over 96 percent learned something new they will share with others.
  • Ninety-four percent recommend the Convention take place every year or every two years.

The event was a cooperative effort of many public and private organizations and was organized by MILP, an initiative created in 2008 to promote collaboration to advance stewardship of Michigan’s inland lakes. The Michigan Lake and Stream Associations (MLSA), the Michigan Chapter, North American Lake Management Society, and the Michigan Natural Shoreline Partnership all cancelled their annual events for this year to partner with MILP and encouraged their members to attend the Convention. Michigan State University Extension served as a key partner, providing workshops, presentations and exhibits.

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MDNR Fisheries Division biologists were available to answer fisheries questions and give advice to lake property owners. Photo credit: Paige Filice

Participant feedback indicates lake front owners and professionals alike thoroughly enjoyed the event and found it useful. One participant described it this way. “The interaction with lake associations and other professionals is very valuable in learning what the major issues are affecting lakeshore homeowners. A great venue for making contacts.” For those unable to attend, more than 40 archived presentations may be found on the Convention web page.

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