Workshop emphasizes the importance of natural shorelines on inland lakes

Homeowners learn how to create, restore and manage natural shorelines to protect water quality.

Michigan has more than 11,000 inland lakes. It is not hard to understand why so many Michigan residents are attracted to life that revolves around the many splendors of lake living: clean water, beautiful views, habitat that supports a variety of fish and wildlife species and access to endless recreational opportunities including boating, fishing and swimming.

Over time, increased development has resulted in the removal of native vegetation at the shoreline, which has often been replaced by highly maintained lawns down to the water’s edge, beach areas and seawalls which have negatively impacted lake ecosystems. A soft approach to landscaping at the shoreline can help safeguard your waterfront property investment and allow lake residents to continue to enjoy all of the things that attracted them there in the first place. One way to protect and preserve healthy lake ecosystems is through the use of native plants, biodegradable products and other natural materials to provide a stable shoreline that is protected from waves and erosion, prevents runoff, provides suitable habitat for fish and wildlife and serves as a natural filter preventing pesticides and fertilizers from directly impacting water quality. This approach to shoreline landscaping is also referred to as bioengineering or soft shore engineering.

An excellent introduction to this topic is MSU Extension Bulletin E3158, “Natural Shoreline Landscaping.” Others may be interested in a more comprehensive resource on natural shoreline landscapes found in MSU Extension Bulletin E3145, “Natural Shoreline Landscapes on Michigan’s Inland Lakes: Guidebook for Property Owners.” Both are available through the Michigan State University (MSU) Extension Bookstore.

On Saturday, March 17, from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., MSU Extension is sponsoring a workshop with the Michigan Natural Shoreline Partnership for property owners to create, restore and manage natural shorelines. This workshop is designed to educate interested lakefront property owners on the importance of natural shorelines to support healthy lake ecosystems and will discuss the use of bioengineering techniques along the shoreline to provide erosion control and habitat while maintaining the aesthetic value of the lakefront.  Those who already have a rock or sea wall will learn how to enhance these hard structures to benefit their lake. Important information on Michigan rules and regulations to consider when planning a natural shoreline project will also be covered. The workshop will be held at Independence Oaks County Park’s Lewis Wint Nature Center in Clarkston, Mich.

Workshop partners include Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Oakland County Parks and Recreation, Wild Ones and Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner’s Office. Workshop registration is $35 per person and includes a copy of MSUE Bulletin E3145, ““Natural Shoreline Landscapes on Michigan’s Inland Lakes: Guidebook for Property Owners.” For more information and complete registration details, visit the Oakland County website. Deadline for registration is March 9.