Ask not what your lake can do for you — ask what you can do for your lake. That’s the sentiment behind an upcoming workshop for lakefront property owners being presented by a coalition made up of the state Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), the MSU Extension, and the Michigan Natural Shoreline Partnership.
Creation, Restoration, and Management of Natural Shoreline Landscapes on Michigan Inland Lakes: An “Evenings in the Garden” Workshop for Property Owners, is a workshop scheduled for 1-5 p.m. on May 14 at the Tollgate Education Center in Novi. The focus is to provide property owners with a better understanding of the benefits of “natural shorelines” and how to go about planning and installing one along lakefront property.
Michigan has over 11,000 inland lakes, which are essential habitat for fish and wildlife. The workshop will educate interested property owners on natural erosion control methods, and will discuss techniques for using natural materials and native vegetation along the shoreline to provide erosion control and habitat value while maintaining the aesthetic value of the lakefront.
With the aid of an interactive educational display, workshop participants will become familiar with native plants, bioengineering techniques, and design ideas used to create beautiful natural landscapes that protect inland lake shorelines.
State rules and regulations that apply to shoreline projects will also be discussed; and, property owners who already have a rock wall or a seawall will learn how to enhance those structures for the benefit of their lake.
Workshop topics will include healthy lake ecosystems; designing natural landscapes along shorelines; problems with high impact landscape methods; and use of native plants along shorelines.
In addition, the informative publication, “Natural Shoreline Landscapes on Michigan’s Inland Lakes Guidebook for Property Owners” will be available in limited supply.
The workshop will be led by members of the Michigan Natural Shoreline Partnership. Scheduled speakers include John Skubinna, a compliance assistance specialist with the DEQ’s Environmental Assistance Program; Beth Perris, an environmental quality analyst for the state Department Natural Resources (DNR); Bindu Bhakta, a water quality educator with the MSU Extension office based in Oakland County; and Jim Brueck, owner of Native Lakescapes, LLC.
Contact Linda Smith at 248-585-0887 or firstname.lastname@example.org for workshop registration information. Seating is limited.
According to Brueck, a natural shoreline provides two key things.
“One is a buffer between the land and the lake so runoff doesn’t move fertilizers, and animal waste from ducks, geese, dogs, etc. into the lake,” he said. “It’s a riparian buffer separating the land use from the lake, which protects the lake.
“On top of that, it creates probably one of the most biodiverse habitats,” he added. “It allows natural lake habitat to grow on the edge and in the water, providing food and feeding areas for frogs, ducks, fish, and other wildlife. Compare that to an armored lakeshore, where there’s virtually nothing growing in the water. You’ve got the lawn, the seawall, and then the lake water. If you’re a turtle, how do you get to shore to lay eggs?”
Shoreline areas are critical for many kinds of fish and wildlife, but tend to be altered frequently by people, according to Bhakta.
“Removing that natural vegetation and destroying that part of the lake affects water quality,” she said. “Now we have some really good alternatives to traditional seawalls using natural green technology. We want to get people to see some of the options they have for shoreline areas.”
Native plants are easier to establish, grow more luxuriously and require less maintenance, according to workshop sponsors. Native plants have very deep roots that, once established, prevent soil erosion and are very drought resistant.
According to the Michigan Natural Shoreline Partnership, a riparian buffer is an area adjacent to a water body that is fully or partially protected from human disturbances and thus is able to protect the waterway from pollution and habitat degradation. A riparian area can perform natural protective functions such as filtering sediments, nutrients, and other contaminants; and providing woody debris, temperature control, and light control for the adjacent aquatic habitat.
Benefits of buffers include:
• Reducing imperviousness;
• Provide flood control;
• Reducing pollution;
• Minimizing property damage;
• Creating a habitat for wildlife;
• Reducing lawn cutting and lawnmower emission; and
• Discouraging geese from your yard.
For more information on the Michigan Natural Shoreline Partnership, visit the website at www.mishorelinepartnership.org.