Michigan Natural Shoreline Partnership reaches homeowners through Shoreline Educator Network

A network of shoreline educators is available to teach riparians the benefits of natural shorelines in inland lake ecosystems.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) National Lake Assessment, the biggest problem in the nation’s lakes, including those in Michigan, is poor lake shore 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increased shoreline development has resulted in the removal of native vegetation at the shoreline, which has often been replaced by highly maintained lawns down to the water’s edge, beach areas and seawalls, all of which negatively impact lake ecosystems.

One way to encourage healthy lake ecosystems is through the implementation of alternative landscaping technologies such as bioengineered erosion control and naturalized landscape design. These practices can create a stable shoreline that is protected from waves and erosion, serve as a natural filter to prevent runoff and provide suitable habitat for fish and wildlife.

Formed in 2008, the Michigan Natural Shoreline Partnership (MNSP)’s mission is to promote the use of natural shorelines through use of green landscaping technologies and bioengineered erosion control for the protection of Michigan’s inland lakes. The MNSP connects technical expertise and organizational support to address informational, educational and policy needs related to natural shoreline development. It is a public/private partnership which consists of governmental agencies, industry associations and representatives, academic institutions and environmental and nonprofit organizations that promote natural shoreline management. Michigan State University Extension and the Michigan Native Plant Producers Association are just two of the diverse partners.

Jane Herbert, MSU Extension Educator, trains natural resource professionals who are part of the MNSP Shoreline Educator Network
Jane Herbert, MSU Extension educator, trains natural resource professionals who are part of the MNSP Shoreline Educator Network. 

Understanding the need to increase their educational reach beyond their current capacity, MNSP has been training natural resource professionals to conduct natural shoreline workshops for homeowners across the state. These trainees are members of the statewide Shoreline Educator Network (SEN), a growing group of natural resource professionals who are now equipped with the tools to coordinate their own workshops and educate property owners about natural shorelines and technologies that benefit lake ecosystems.

If you are interested in finding a Shoreline Educator to conduct a natural shoreline workshop in your area, view the MNSP SEN directory or check the events calendar to see natural shoreline workshops currently scheduled.

The “Natural Shoreline Landscapes on Michigan’s Inland Lakes: Guidebook for Property Owners” (MSU Extension bulletin #E3145) is a great primer on the topic of natural shorelines and is available from the MSU Extension Bookstore.

For more information about MNSP including trainings and educational resources, visit the Michigan Natural Shoreline Partnership website.