Michigan Natural Shoreline Partnership seeks individuals interested in becoming professionals

Annual certification training will be offered March 6-7, 2018 in East Lansing to prepare those working at the water’s edge.

Certified Natural Shoreline Trainees installing a coir log to help stabilize a lake shoreline as part of the training’s demonstration day. Photo credit: Jane Herbert

Certified Natural Shoreline Trainees installing a coir log to help stabilize a lake shoreline as part of the training’s demonstration day. Photo credit: Jane Herbert

The most recent National Lakes Assessment Report for Michigan once again identified that the conversion of our natural shorelines into lawns and seawalls is the biggest threat to our inland lakes. Over-developed shorelines can have a major negative impact on our lakes – from the loss of habitat for fish and birds to shoreline erosion and degraded water quality.

Traditional landscaping is degrading our lakes. Typical lawn grasses lack the long fibrous roots that native plants have. As a result, they cannot hold the soil in place and the lakefront property quickly vanishes into the lake. A traditional response would be to then either place rock from the water’s edge on up to your lawn (rip-rap) or place a wall made of steel, cement, or vinyl that creates a barrier between the soil and the lake. Each of these practices is not an ideal solution if quality lake living and lake stewardship are the goals.

A more ideal, sustainable approach to shoreline development is to instead clear only the area you need for lake access and preserve the rest of the shoreline property as a buffer that supports natural processes. Lake-friendly practices that maintain quality lake living can be designed and implemented. Many of these practices work with three materials – deep rooted vegetation, biodegradable erosion control material and well-placed rock.

The key to all lake friendly designs is the placement of vegetation other than turf back to the shoreline property. The biodegradable material and rock are used to stop erosion immediately while the vegetation takes time root. Some designs may mimic nature, but it is possible to cultivate a more manicured look of a beautiful perennial garden. While some individuals may be able to plan and implement lake friendly designs along their shorelines, others may wish to hire someone who has the technical expertise and experience to design a natural shoreline.

Since 2010, a total of 271 contractors, landscape professionals, and other environmental professionals have completed the Michigan Natural Shoreline Partnership (MNSP) Certified Natural Shoreline Professional (CNSP) training program which focuses on to protecting Michigan’s inland lakes by implementing natural shoreline technologies and employing bioengineered erosion control techniques. The program is taught by a diverse array of individuals with expertise in natural shorelines who hailed from academic institutions, private industry, as well as the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Michigan State University Extension. This year, a large cohort of 45 individuals participated - making this one of the largest classes to date.

To provide contractors, landscape professionals, and environmental organizations with the information and skills needed to implement these natural shoreline designs and bioengineered erosion control practices, the MNSP will once again offer the Michigan Certified Natural Shoreline Professional Training Program in 2018. This program uses both classroom and field based sessions to understand natural shoreline design, the different options available and firsthand experience putting one in place.

The 2018 CNSP classroom session will be held on March 6 and 7 at the MSU Kellogg Center in East Lansing. The field and certification exam are scheduled for June 13 in Paw Paw, Michigan. The cost of the course is $375 per person and includes two days of classroom instruction, lunches, training material, exam, and the one-day hands-on field exercise. Registration is now open. Register by completing the form registration form. Online Registration is also available on the Michigan Nursery and Landscape Association website.

Those who complete the two-day in-class training, pass the exam, and participate in the shoreline installation on the June demonstration day will be listed on the CNSP Listing. Homeowners and others who wish to hire someone to complete a shoreline project can then search for trained contractors in their area.

Learn more about past demonstration sites around the state that have been installed by Certified Contractors. 

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