January 13, 2019 23:10

by Paul J. Sniadecki, MLSA Board Director


A recent study, published online October 8, 2018  in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, surveyed 20 government reports analyzing the economic impacts of U.S. water pollution laws. Most of these laws have been enacted since 2000, when cost-benefit analyses became a requirement. Analysis of a measure for restricting river pollution, for example, might find that it increases costs for factories using that river for wastewater disposal, but boosts tourism revenues by drawing more kayakers and swimmers.

The study suggest that many U.S. government attempts to quantify the costs and benefits of protecting the country’s bodies of water are likely undervaluing healthy lakes and rivers. . That’s because some clean water benefits get left out of the analyses, sometimes because these benefits are difficult to pin numbers on. As a result, the apparent value of many environmental regulations is probably discounted. To read the whole report, follow this link:


January 13, 2019 23:07

by Paul J.Sniadecki, MLSA Board Director


Part 301, Part 303, and Part 325 of the NREPA authorize the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), Water Resources Division (WRD), to define types of regulated activities that would be expected to have only minor impacts and that can, therefore, be reviewed through an expedited permit application process. The updated MP document, issued on September 24, 2018,  defines those activities that the WRD has determined are Minor Project(MP) categories and also defines the legal authority and limitations for their use.

Also on Septmber 24, 2018, the MDEQ issued the updated General Permit (GP) document. The purpose of this GP is to allow the WRD to evaluate permit applications for many minor activities without he delay of public noticing or site inspecting specific projects.  The objective of the GP is to reduce the time and cost of the permit process for applicants proposing minor activities and to reduce the costs of administering the program while protecting aquatic resources.  Please note that the GP does not define projects that will be authorized, but only those that may be considered for accelerated processing. Applications under the GP may be issued, modified, or denied. Authorization will be issued only if it is determined that the proposed activity is in accordance with the criteria and requirements of the NREPA.

The issued documents have some changes from prior issues, and Riparians are encouraged to reviewthem before taking any action that requiresa permit.  To viewthe documents, followthis link to the DEQ:



January 13, 2019 22:28

By Paul J Sniadecki, MLSA Board Director

Each year The North American Lake Management Society (NALMS founded in 1980) awards individuals or teams for design, facilitation, or performance of exceptional education and outreach activities supporting community understanding and appreciation of lake and reservoir management.

NALMS recently recognized the MI Shoreland Stewards Program as earning the award for 2018. The MI Shoreland Stewards Program is a multi-faceted approach to engaging and empowering lake property owners to protect and restore their lakefront property. The program can also be utilized by lake groups to help promote healthy lake front property management, and provide special recognition to their property owners by registering their lake group on the website. An icon will appear on the MiSS website for their lake group, so they can access promotional materials and see the results of surveys from their lake. They can also use this in conjunction with a whole lake shoreline assessment to track the status of their lake’s shoreline over time. These programs have created significant interest regarding inland lakeshore protection.

MLSA and the MNSP provide financial and other support to the on-going operation of the Shoreland Stewards Program.


September 13, 2018 05:19

By Paul J. Sniadecki
MLSA Board Director


NOTE: Definition of “Benchmark” from Merriam-Webster:

a) something that serves as a standard by which others may be measured or judged;
b) a point of reference from which measurements may be made.

This monthly MLSA newsletter and The Michigan Riparian Magazine provide on-going coverage of Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) issues around our home state of Michigan.  Most often the news has not been promising about actual preventative measures being deployed.  Many readers, including myself, have asked the questions:

  • Is Michigan doing enough to prevent AIS in its over 11,000+ inland lakes?
  • What are other states doing?

The truth is that many states have implemented pro-active and stringent requirements to stop AIS infection and contamination in their water bodies.  Perhaps the time has come for Michigan to rapidly “benchmark” relative to prevention practices occurring in other states, and then quickly implement even the most stringent legislation and administrative rules/procedures

In the real world, results-based leaders embrace bench marking.  They adapt and do what has been successful for others. Many times they also go a step beyond what the leaders are doing, as a tactic to become the new market/technology “leader.“   Results based leaders also rarely fall into the trap of “analysis paralysis.”

If the Michigan legislature and DNR/DEQ were to begin bench marking for AIS prevention for inland lakes, where are some of the obvious places to look?  The following is a brief synopsis of easily located information.  Most likely there are additional states with some of the following requirements in place, or are in the process of implementation:

FUNDING FOR AIS PREVENTION VIA WATER CRAFT STICKERS: Oregon, Idaho, Nebraska, Washington State, Nevada, and Minnesota.

MANDATORY AIS INSPECTIONS with DECONTAMINATION / DISINFECTION : Colorado, Montana, Idaho, Washington State, Lake George New YorkWyoming, Minnesota, Vermont,  Utah, and New Mexico.

 STATE FUNDING FOR AIS PREVENTION:  Since 2014, the Minnesota Legislature provides $10 Million to local counties for specific purpose of locally controlled activities for AIS prevention. Wisconsin uses $4.5 Million for AIS each year, sourced 100% from fuel gas tax.   California uses $5.98 Million for AIS prevention, with majority of the funds coming from water craft registrations and “mussel stickers.”

COORDINATED and FREE STATE WIDE ACTION FOR AIS: Since 2017, Minnesota University Extension has conducted a “Starry Trek” each August to search for infestations of the AIS Starry stonewort.  In 2018, 225 trained volunteers searched 187 lakes of Minnesota’s 10,000 lakes. They found one (1) new infestation which raised the Minnesota DNR maintained database total to 14 lakes with Starry stonewort .  The “trek” took place at essentially the same time around the state and generated media attention to the challenges presented by all AIS.  The Minnesota DNR maintains a verified database listing all water bodies in Minnesota that are AIS infested, with only less than 7% of Minnesota’s lakes on the infested waters list.

In summary, it is clear there are actions that Michigan can take to prevent the spread of AIS.  Is it time to benchmark?  What  can you do help make that happen?

Invasive red swamp crayfish able to thrive within the waters of Michigan

August 9, 2018 05:42

by Scott Brown
Michigan Lake Stewardship Associations
Executive Director

Author’s note: To view a well done report by WXYZ television regarding increasingly prolific invasive populations of red swamp crayfish appearing

in ponds located in the Detroit metropolitan area, click here

Extraordinarily abundant in the biologically diverse and highly productive marshes and swamps of the freshwater inundated Mississippi River delta region, red swamp crayfish have been serving as the miniature lobster-like “guests of honor” at south Louisiana “crawdad” boils for well over two centuries. The native distribution range of the red swamp crayfish stretches from the Gulf of Mexico coastal plain that extends from the Florida panhandle to northeast Mexico, and northward from the southern Mississippi River drainage area to Illinois and southwest Indiana (Nagy et al., 2015). Most abundant in the marshes and swamps of south central Louisiana (commonly referred to as bayous in southern Louisiana) (Hobbs, 1989, Taylor et al., 2007), the red swamp crayfish that have long since become a widely recognized symbol of Cajun-style cuisine have officially been introduced to the waters of Michigan. Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) aquatic biologists have confirmed the presence of the rapidly reproducing and often destructive invasive crayfish in Sunset Lake located near Vicksburg on the state’s west side, and in a retention pond located within the southeast Michigan City of Novi. Detections of the highly invasive red swamp crayfish in Michigan follows a July 2015 MDNR report that some anglers had illegally purchased the alien crayfish from food markets for use as a live bait, and of the detection of several dead specimens of the wayward crayfish in Ottawa County’s Lake Macatawa.

Frequently achieving extremely high density populations, crayfish are considered to be the largest and longest living of invertebrates that inhabit temperate freshwater environments (Gherardi and Acquistapace, 2007). Red swamp crayfish, scientific name Procambarus clarkii, are deep red in color and feature bright red raised spots that appear on their body and claws. Contributing to the ability of aquatic biologists and natural resource practitioners to positively identify “Louisiana mudbugs” in the field, red swamp crayfish are also endowed with a distinctive wedge-shaped black stripe on the top of their abdomen. Red swamp crayfish are voracious omnivores that readily and continuously feed upon fish eggs, aquatic plants, dead fish, and decaying organisms of all type. Ranging in overall length from two to five inches, red swamp crayfish are known to achieve body weights of just under two ounces in as little as three to five months from the time they hatch (Hentonnen and Huner, 1999).

Capable of flourishing in a wide range of freshwater habitats including swamps, marshes, wetlands, rivers, streams, ponds, lakes, and ditches hosting substrates consisting of soft sediments that are rich in organic debris (Huner and Barr, 1991), red swamp crayfish are capable of expeditiously altering or destroying the ecologically sensitive nearshore habitats that many native aquatic species depend upon for sustenance and survival (Gherardi, 2006). The red swamp crayfish is considered a highly effective ecosystem engineer due to their often noted ability to significantly modify surrounding physical habitat by building burrows in areas hosting fine sediments near the water’s edge. Consisting of a single opening and a tunnel that may extend fifteen to thirty five inches to the underlying water table, and that gradually expands into a larger “living” chamber (Correia and Ferreira, 1995; Huner and Barr, 1991), the self-constructed burrows of red swamp crayfish serve to protect the highly adept shellfish from intense mid-day sunlight, high air temperatures, and periods of extended drought (Ingle, 1997). The existence of physical habitat created by dense near-shore macrophyte growth, fallen logs, and/or other forms of woody structure may serve to increase the overall population density, and thus the foraging and burrowing activity of the notoriously disruptive freshwater crustacean (Correia and Ferreira, 1995).

The burrowing and foraging activities of the highly invasive Mississippi delta crayfish are also known to increase the likelihood and frequency of cyanobacteria blooms (Geiger et al., 2005; Yamamoto, 2010). The intensive burrowing activity of red swamp crayfish may have a negative impact on the water quality of the lakes, rivers, ponds, or reservoirs that they often colonize by causing the re-suspension of large volumes of fine particulate matter, therefore significantly reducing water clarity and the amount of sunlight that is available to support native submerged aquatic plants and a myriad of co-occurring native organisms that rely on aquatic plants for sustenance and survival (Rodríguez et al., 2005). Constructed in nearshore habitat areas hosting fine organic sediments, the abandoned burrows of the red swamp crayfish are known to cause the eventual collapse of river banks and other earthen structures (Barbaresi et al., 2004). In areas that are prone to significant water level fluctuations such as dams, levees, or irrigation systems, extensive networks of red swamp crayfish burrows are likely to damage the highly vulnerable structures through bank destabilization.

Due to their steadily increasing popularity as reasonably priced offerings on restaurant menus throughout Europe, red swamp crayfish have long since been the focus of aquaculture on the continent and currently represent approximately 90% of the total crayfish production in Europe (Perez et al., 1997; Ackefors, 1999). Since the 1950s red swamp crayfish have also been intentionally introduced to over twenty five countries around the world including several African nations where they have been the focus of commercial cultivation (Gherardi et al., 1999). In locations where the rapidly reproducing North American crustacean has been accidentally or intentionally introduced, red swamp crayfish have succeeded in creating sustainable breeding populations (Gherardi et al., 2007). Freshwater ecosystems that have been successfully colonized by the species are also known have experienced bio-diversity loss and severe habitat degradation (Gherardi, 2006). The rapidly expanding invasive range of the destructive crayfish in south-central Europe, for example, has contributed to decreasing rates of bio-diversity and habitat degradation in a steadily increasing number of freshwater systems that have undergone colonization (Gherardi, 2006).

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources asks that residents and visitors to the Sunset Lake area try to capture any red swamp crayfish they find and place them in a container in the freezer, then report the location of the find to the DNR at 269-685-6851, ext. 0, or by email to Sightings of red swamp crayfish in the Novi area or elsewhere in Michigan should be photographed and reported with the date and location of the find to



 Ackefors, H. (1999). The positive effects of established crayfish introductions in Europe. In Gherardi, F. and Holdich, D.M. (Eds.) Crustacean Issues, 11: Crayfish in Europe as Alien Species (How to make the best of a bad situation?) A.A. Balkema, Rotterdam, Netherlands, 49-61.

Anastácio, P. M., Parente, V. S., & Correia, A. M. (2005). Crayfish effects on seeds and seedlings: identification and quantification of damage. Freshwater Biology 50, 697-704.

Angeler, D. G., Sanchez-Carrillo, S., García, G., & Alvarez-Cobelas, M. (2001). The influence of Procambarus clarkii (Cambaridae, Decapoda) on water quality and sediment characteristics in a Spanish floodplain wetland. Hydrobiologia 464, 89-98.

Barbaresi, S., Tricarico, E. & Gherardi, F. (2004). Factors inducing the intense burrowing activity of the red swamp crayfish, Procambarus clarkii, an invasive species. Naturwissenschaften 91, 342-345.

Correia, A. M., and Ferreira, O. (1995). Burrowing behavior of the introduced red swamp crayfish Procambarus clarkii (Decapoda: Cambaridae) in Portugal. Journal of Crustacean Biology 15, 248-257.

Geiger, W., Alcorlo, P., Baltanas, A., & Montes, C. (2005). Impact of an introduced Crustacean on the trophic webs of Mediterranean wetlands. Biological Invasions 7, 49-73.

Gherardi, F. & Acquistapace, P. (2007). Invasive crayfish in Europe: the impact of Procambarus clarkii on the littoral community of a Mediterranean lake. Freshwater Biology 52, 1249-1259.

Gherardi, F. & Lazzara, L. (2006). Effects of the density of an invasive crayfish (Procambarus clarkii) on pelagic and surface microalgae in a Mediterranean wetland. Archiv fur Hydrobiologie 165, 401-414.

Henttonen, P. & Huner, J. V. (1999). The introduction of alien species of crayfish in Europe: a historical introduction. Pages 13-22 in F. Gherardi, and D. M. Holdich, editors. Crustacean issues 11: Crayfish in Europe as alien species (how to make the best of a bad situation?). A. A. Balkema, Rotterdam, Netherlands.

Hobbs III, H. H. (1993). Trophic relationships of North American freshwater crayfish and shrimps. Contributions in Biology and Geology, 85, Milwaukee Public Museum, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Hobbs III, H. H., Jass J. P., & Huner J. V. (1989). A review of global crayfish introductions with particular emphasis on two North American species (Decapoda, Cambaridae). Crustaceana 56, 299-316.

Huner, J. V. & Barr, J. E. (1991). Red Swamp Crayfish: Biology and Exploitation. 3rd Edition. Louisiana Sea Grant College Program, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana. 128 pp.

Ingle, R. W. (1997). Crayfishes, lobsters, and crabs of Europe: an illustrated guide to common and traded species. Springer, Berlin.

Lodge D. M., Taylor, C. A., Holdich, D. M., & Skurdal, J. (2000). Non-indigenous crayfishes threaten North American freshwater biodiversity: lessons from Europe. Fisheries 25, 7-20.

Lowery R. S. & Mendes A. J. (1977). Procambarus clarkii in Lake Naivasha, Kenya, and its effects on established and potential fisheries. Aquaculture 11, 111-121.

Mueller, G. A., Carpenter, J., & Thornbrugh, D. (2006). Bullfrog tadpole (Rana catesbeiana) and red swamp crayfish (Procambarus clarkii) predation on early life stages of endangered razorback sucker (Xyrauchen texanus). The Southwestern Naturalist 51(2), 258-261.

Perez, J. R., Carral, J. M., Celada, J. D., Saez-Royuela, M., Munoz, C., & Sierra, A. (1997). Current status of astaciculture production and commercial situation of crayfish in Europe. Aquaculture Europe 22, 6-13.

Taylor, C. A., Schuster, G. A., Cooper, J. E., DiStefano, R. J., Eversole, A. G., Hamr, P., Hobbs III, H. H., Robison, H. W., Skelton, C. E., & Thoma, R. F. (2007). A reassessment of the conservation status of crayfishes of the United States and Canada after 10+ years of increased awareness. Fisheries 32 (8), 372-389.

Yamamoto, Y. (2010). Contribution of bioturbation by the red swamp crayfish Procambarus clarkii to the recruitment of bloom forming cyanobacteria from sediment. Journal of Limnology 69 (1), 102-111.


New Officers for the MLSA Board of Directors

July 23, 2018 09:45

By Paul J Sniadecki, MLSA Board Director


The MLSA Board of Directors met in June 2018 and took action to fill the organization’s Officer Positions pursuant to our organization’s By-Laws.

Mike Gallagher, Gull Lake, was elected as the new MLSA President, and John Wilks, Indian Lake, was elected as the new Vice-President.

Beth Cook, the current Board Treasurer, continues in that Officer position, as does Nancy Beckwith who continues as an Officer and Board Secretary.  The current term of office for all MLSA Officers extends through December 31, 2019.

Mike Gallagher has been a Riparian Property Owner since 1954, Long-term Board Member of the Gull Lake Quality Organization and the Four Townships Water Resources Council, and a Board Member on several Non-Profit organizations. Mike is also a 2015 graduate Michigan Lake and Stream Leaders Institute and a CLMP Volunteer since 2008.

John Wilks has been a Riparian Property Owner since 1984, President of the Indian Lake Association of Vicksburg from 2008-2014, and a CLMP Volunteer since 2004.  John earned a Ph.D. from Cornell University and is retired after serving 32 Years as a Research Scientist for drug discovery in the pharmaceutical industry.

The MLSA Board of Directors looks forward to the leadership and vision that these four well qualified Officers bring to the stewardship mission of MLSA.

Direct contact information for MLSA Officers and Board Directors can be located in the first few pages of THE RIPARIAN Magazine, published quarterly.

Stewardship, and the Michigan August 2018 Primary

July 22, 2018 12:54

By Paul J. Sniadecki
MLSA Board Director

In less than a month, on Tuesday, August 8, 2018, citizens of our state go to the polls for the 2018 Michigan Primary Election. We will be electing candidates for the November 2018 General Election. The races include the Governor spot, as well as many Representatives and Senators in the Michigan Legislature. There are also some Federal Senator and House of Representative positions involved.

Michigan is one of the most heavily gerrymandered states in the country (NATION Magazine, Aug 29, 2017), which makes the Primary a crucial time to “get out the vote” so we can elect officials who will seek to protect water and the many issues that might impact fellow waterfront property owners. Because gerrymandering facilitates the election of “certain candidates” in the fall General Election, the way to override such calculated action is by electing the better candidates in August.

If the candidates on “your ballot” are already proven advocates for water conservation and”lake-friendly” action, please support them in every aspsect possible.  As a “Great Lakes State  hosting over 11,000 inland lakes, Michigan is in bad need of political candidates that understand the importance of environmental regulation, and of the need to reinvest in our freshwater related infrastucture.  When candidates knock on your door, participate in public debates, or hold rallies, ask them their position on inland lake focused issues such as short-term rentals, uniform septic/sewage regulations, large quantity water withdrawals, stable funding for the MiCorps Cooperative Lakes Monitoring Program, aquatic invasive species management related issues and other water related issues you care about. Be sure to share their answers with other members of your lake association and family/friends who are registered to vote.

As the entertainer Milton Berle always said:  “If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.” As stewards of our inland lakes, we build the “door” when we raise water and lake issues with the Michigan Primary Election candidates, and then vote accordingly. By taking action in your voting district we can advance the opportunity for stewardship throughout Michigan. It takes a little effort now, which is a sound investment in the future our lakes and water.

Honoring the Past, Preparing for the Future: Michigan Lake and Stream Associations Becomes Michigan Lake Stewardship Associations

July 9, 2018 13:04

by Scott Brown
Michigan Lake Stewardship Associations
Executive Director


Formed in 1961 by an enthusiastic group of waterfront property owners who recognized the potential for common-interest driven voluntary lake and stream associations to contribute to preserving our freshwater resources and our riparian rights, Articles of Incorporation formalizing the establishment of the Association of Michigan Lakes and Streams Associations (AML&SA) were filed with the State of Michigan on Monday, January 28th, 1963. Launching our now 57 year old organization with no more than a mere 400 bucks cash on hand, an initial membership of just a few lake associations, and an abundance of commitment, ideas, and energy, the fledgling organization would establish a Board of Directors, open a central office, begin a monthly newsletter, grow to over 100 associations, launch the now widely circulated Michigan Riparian magazine in 1965, and hold ten consecutive highly successful annual conferences by the year 1970.

Submitting the necessary paper work with the Michigan Attorney General Charitable Trust Division and the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs to change the name of the organization in early 1970, the abbreviated and much easier to pronounce name Michigan Lake and Stream Associations (ML&SA) would be approved on Friday, June 12, 1970. Achieving steady membership and revenue growth throughout the decade, the organization’s first Executive Director, Mr. Donald E. Winne, a retired public high school teacher and administrator from Elkhart, Indiana, and by then a full time lakefront resident of Corey Lake in St. Joseph County Michigan, would be hired in the late 1970’s, and a new central office established in downtown Three Rivers. At about the same time, an energetic and always enthusiastic Pearl Bonnell of Long Lake, Michigan, located near Alpena, would be hired as Director of Operations. It is important to note that Pearl’s lakefront residence would remain the de facto ML&SA northern office until her retirement many years later. Often referred to as the “dynamic duo”, Pearl and Don devoted nearly three decades of their highly productive lives traveling throughout the state while working with lake associations to improve their capacity to preserve and protect their respective freshwater resources.

It is interesting to note that although the founders of our organization envisioned serving an active membership comprised of both lake and stream property owners associations, for reasons that are not yet well understood, the concept of stream property owners associations never really took hold in Michigan. A comprehensive review of ML&SA year-to-year membership revealed that with the important exception of our individual and corporate members, our membership has always been comprised primarily of voluntary lakefront property owners associations.

Honoring our past, and recognizing the vital role Michigan’s lake associations in preserving the health and vitality of our inland lake heritage for the future, our Board of Directors recently voted to change the name of our organization to Michigan Lake Stewardship Associations (MLSA). Wikipedia defines stewardship as “an ethic that embodies the responsible planning and management of resources”. Readers should know that although we have changed our name to more accurately reflect the mission and people we strive to serve on a day-to-day basis, our organization remains steadfastly committed to the idea that pro-active lakefront property owner voluntary associations are in the best position to advocate for riparian rights, and inland lake protection and preservation in Michigan.

Lake Residents Work Together to Save the MiCorps Cooperative Lakes Monitoring Program from Termination – More Focus is Needed

July 7, 2018 21:36

by Lon Nordeen, MLSA Board member

Inland lake volunteers have been monitoring water quality in Michigan since 1974 as a part of the Self-Help program. In 2003, former Governor Jennifer Granholm created the Michigan Clean Water Corps (MiCorps) (by Executive Order #2003-15), a Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) program funded through the Clean Michigan Initiative (CMI), which included the Volunteer Stream Monitoring Program (VSMP), and the Cooperative Lakes Monitoring Program (CLMP).  The highly successful Michigan Cooperative Lakes Monitoring Program has expanded to volunteers on more than 300 lakes across Michigan who perform a wide range of annual water quality testing. MiCorps, and many other monitoring and environmental protection efforts have been supported by Clean Michigan Initiative (CMI) bond funds which are nearly exhausted.

Despite the long-term success of the Michigan CLMP and other water resource protection programs, additional funding had not been allocated to sustain these programs by the state legislature. Governor Snyder and members of the MI Senate and House proposed SB 943 to create funds for various long-term water and environmental protection programs (including MiCorps). This bill was based on a proposed increase in fees for waste hauling and disposal, however, the bill did not pass.

The MLSA, Michigan Waterfront Alliance, and many lake associations and lake residents sprang into action in an attempt to try and save the CLMP from termination. Hundreds of letters were sent to Governor Snyder, the executive level of the MI DEQ, DNR, and most importantly members of the Michigan Senate and House of Representatives.  Many lake residents called or visited their elected officials to focus attention of their concerns about the possible end of the CLMP program and inland lake protections.

This concentrated call for help worked! THANK YOU for your support! The Legislature required that the DEQ utilize $150,000 of its existing budget for the CLMP in 2019.  However, a long-term funding solution is required to maintain these programs. Readers should know that Michigan Lake Stewardship Associations and the Michigan Waterfront Alliance are committed to working with Michigan’s executive branch, the state legislature, and the senior leadership of the Department of Environmental Quality in creating a long-term sustainable funding source for this nationally recognized citizen volunteer based inland lakes water quality monitoring program.

The Success of Michigan’s Cooperative Lakes Monitoring Program

July 7, 2018 21:03

Note to readers: This article originally appeared in the June 2017 Washington State Lake Protective Association Waterline Newsletter.

Joy Ramstack Hobbs has been working with the WALPA Volunteer Lake Monitoring committee to further their efforts in starting a statewide lake monitoring program.  One of the first tasks has been to research successful programs in other states.  Below is a summary of Michigan’s Cooperative Lakes Monitoring Program.

Michigan has had a successful volunteer monitoring program since 1974.  Throughout the program’s history, its focus has been on volunteers, both in collecting data of interest to the public, and educating citizens on lake ecology and management. The program is administratively complex, but is designed to be easy for volunteers to navigate. Numerous training manuals and videos are available on the website, and the on-line database is user-friendly. One of the program staff, Dr. Jo Latimore, was extremely helpful in answering questions about the program and providing advice for WALPA.


  • Measure baseline water quality and document water quality trends on participating lakes
  • Educate the public in lake ecology, lake management practices, and procedures for collecting water quality data
  • Build public support for lake quality protection and encourage sound lake management practices.
  • Provide a cost-effective way for Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to increase baseline water quality data for inland lakes statewide.


  • Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ)
  • Michigan Clean Water Corps (MiCorps)
  • Great Lakes Commission (GLC)
  • Huron River Watershed Council
  • Michigan Lake and Stream Association (MLSA)
  • Michigan State University (MSU) Department of Fish and Wildlife

History and structure

The Michigan DEQ currently administers the Cooperative Lakes Monitoring Program (CLMP) jointly with the Michigan Lake and Stream Association (MLSA). The CLMP currently operates as a program under the Michigan Clean Water Corps (MiCorps), Michigan’s volunteer surface water monitoring network.

The Michigan DEQ began citizen-based volunteer monitoring in 1974 with the Self-Help program, making Michigan’s volunteer lake monitoring program the second-oldest in the country. When the program started, only Secchi depth was monitored. In 1992, in cooperation with the MLSA, the program expanded to include TP measurements and was renamed the CLMP (additional parameters have since been added). Since the early 2000’s, CLMP has been a program under MiCorps, which also administers a volunteer stream-monitoring program.

MiCorps was created in 2003 to help the DEQ collect and share water quality data to use in water resources management and protection programs. The Great Lakes Commission partners with the Huron River Watershed Council and MLSA to develop, implement, and administer MiCorps, under the direction of the DEQ and with the advice of a steering committee.  Michigan State University’s Department of Fish and Wildlife also provides technical assistance for CLMP.


Since the program’s beginnings, funding for MiCorps/CLMP comes from the state, through the Michigan DEQ. The current contract from the DEQ was granted to the GLC for a three year program at a cost of $695,000, which funds both the lake and stream monitoring programs. Included in the contract is $160,000 for GLC staff salaries and benefits, as well as a subcontract to the Huron River Watershed Council (about $200,000, primarily for the stream monitoring program), a subcontract to MLSA (about $100,000) and a subcontract to Michigan State University. Program staff Jo Latimore said that although the budget includes money for items like facilities for volunteer trainings, the majority of the $695K covers personnel costs.

Beyond the $695K contract, the DEQ also contributes a staff person working with MiCorps (roughly half-time) and the cost of sample analysis (TP and chlorophyll a).

The CLMP does charge its volunteers to participate. The most basic enrollment (Secchi depth only) is $40 per year, and there are additional charges for each parameter, covering the costs of supplies and mailing. Jo estimates that the average group pays about $150 per year for monitoring one lake. The training sessions, as well as access to MiCorps staff, are free to all volunteers. Jo believes that charging participants often leads to an increased level of commitment, and CLMP hasn’t seen a downside. The program was created to educate citizens and having them participate in lake management; they pay a modest amount for that education and participation.

Parameters Monitored, Monitoring Frequency, and Participant Fees

  • Basic Parameters (New and experienced participants may enroll)
    • Secchi disk transparency: $40 (weekly, mid-May through mid-September)
    • TP: $25 per sampling (two samples collected; spring overturn and late summer)
    • Lakeshore Habitat Assessment: $25
    • Exotic aquatic plant watch: $25
  • Advanced Parameters (Participants can enroll after one or more years in the CLMP)
    • Chlorophyll a: $60 (once per month, May through September)
    • Dissolved oxygen/temperature: $50 (profiles every two weeks from mid-May through mid-September)
    • Aquatic plant identification and mapping: $250 first year, $50 subsequent years

While the monitoring frequencies listed above are considered ideal, MiCorps will accept data collected less frequently.

MiCorps has extensive on-line training manuals (and videos) that could be very useful for WALPA.

Data Handling

Data is handled through the MiCorps Data Exchange (MDE) platform; MDE provides online access to data through a searchable database.  The MDE accepts data from CLMP volunteers and from other groups, and categorizes the data based on how it is collected.

The database is available through the MiCorps website (; it’s easy to view online or extract to Excel.  All CLMP participants have a username and password and are encouraged to enter their own data, but MiCorps staff will help with data entry when necessary.

End Users

The primary users of the MiCorps dataset are the volunteers themselves. Additionally, the DEQ uses some of the data in its reporting to the EPA, and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources uses it for information on managing fisheries and fish stocking decisions. Researchers working with MSU and other universities to build a large database of lake monitoring data have been pleased with the quality of the MiCorps data and it has been included in their study.

In some cases, CLMP volunteers have collaborated with researchers who have proposed extra data collections; these additions have worked well, but Jo cautions that MiCorps staff has been protective of its volunteers and their needs. For example, staff makes sure that researchers provide summary reports in a timely fashion so that the volunteers benefit from their involvement.

Number of Volunteers

In 2015, 396 volunteers monitored 230 lakes under the program.

Number of Staff

There are five MiCorps staff members (each affiliated with one of the partner agencies), who provide a joint estimated time commitment of 1.9 FTE.

  Advice for WALPA

Jo Latimore had several pieces of advice for WALPA about starting a volunteer lake monitoring program:

  • Be careful about the number of monitoring parameters the group starts with; don’t take on too much at once.
  • Create a clear structure within which volunteers can successfully and comfortably work.
  • Determine with the volunteers how the program should expand. When MiCorps was looking to add another monitoring parameter, they asked the volunteers, who overwhelmingly agreed on adding a shoreline assessment.
  • Do not underestimate the amount of staff time it takes to recruit, register and retain volunteers and answer their questions.
  • Key to volunteer retention is direct access to program staff who respond promptly.
    The social benefits of the program (provided by training sessions and an annual conference) have been valuable in recruiting and keeping dedicated volunteers.


« Page 1, 2, 3 ... 23, »