Learn about Michigan’s Lakes on-line from MSU Extension

September 20, 2017 19:50

LSLI IMageThe Michigan State University Extension Introduction to Lakes course is being offered online January 2018 and registration is now open! This popular six-week course is offered in a convenient self-paced online format and is designed for anyone interested in lakes, including lakefront property owners, lake users, local government officials, lake managers and educators. Over the last two years, 235 lake enthusiasts across Michigan and surrounding states participated in the class.

The online format allows you, from the comfort of your home or office, to have week-by-week, 24/7 access to six online units — complete with video lectures, activities, resources, discussion forums, quizzes, and Ask-an-Expert webinar sessions with Michigan State University Extension.  Through this convenient format you can increase your knowledge and understanding of lake ecology, lake and their watersheds, shorelines, Michigan water law, aquatic plant management, and citizen involvement. The course schedule allows for regular online communication with classmates and course instructors.

The 2018 course runs January 23 – March 9. Ask-an-Expert webinars are scheduled from 12 to 1 p.m. February 7, February 21, and March 7, 2018. The cost of the course is $115 per person. Register by December 22, 2017 for an early bird discounted price of $95 per person. Registration ends January 16, 2018.

For more details about Introduction to Lakes and to register visit the MSU Extension Introduction to Lakes webpage.

Fourteen Michigan Department of Rural Development Pesticide Applicator Recertification credits, 14 Michigan Department of Education State Continuing Education Clock Hours (SCECH), and 6 Master Citizen Planner Education Credits are available for this course.

A Hot Topic for Lake and Waterfront Home Owners: Short Term Rentals

September 13, 2017 18:20


By Lon Nordeen
Michigan Waterfront Alliance
Board of Directors

This issue has generated a considTrevor-WI-2-05beb5erable amount of interest and debate in Michigan recently and there are a number of good reasons for all of the controversy. First is the accelerating trend toward owners of residential homes, second homes, cabins, condominiums and other residential dwellings (many located on or near lakes or other water bodies) offering their property out for daily or short- term rental to secure additional cash flow through programs like Air BNB, VRBO, Home Away or other concepts which are often scheduled on the computer through third party agencies. This is a different concept than the older rental models we have long seen with weekly to monthly vacation rentals or other housing deals for longer term use by a single family or group that sign a lease.

There are pros and cons with this short-term lease concept:

Pro: property owners have the opportunity to expand their revenue sources and more use of their residence. Realtors and other groups also benefit. The consumers benefit as they have additional short-term housing options outside of traditional hotels, motels, bed and Breakfasts etc.

Con: Noise, increased traffic and activity, rentals may change character of neighborhood, lack of control, possible real or perceived impact on property values, lake/water impact.

Zoning Issues: The MI Zoning Enabling Act gives townships and counties primary responsibility for local zoning and control. Since the expanded short-term rental concept is a relatively new many of these local government bodies have not created new ordinances and rules covering this issue. However due to neighbor concerns and complaints, some townships have begun to address this issue. Actions taken by local townships and municipalities in Michigan have ranged from banning short-term rentals, placing limits on the duration of such activity, and local efforts to beef up zoning and building code rules to try and limit homeowner options.

Since in nature – every action causes a equal and opposite reaction – homeowners wanting to participate in short term rentals have sought solutions in Lansing. Legislative action on this issue has been proposed by Senator Joseph Hune R-22nd District introduced SB 329 and Representative Jason Sheppard R-Bedford R-56th district, HB 4503. Both bills are in their respective Tourism and Outdoor Recreation Committees for review since April 2017. These bills would allow residents to have short term rentals for up to 28 days and classify this effort as a residential not commercial property use so that all residential dwelling could classify. MI residents have voiced strong views to their elected representatives about this issue.


“I introduced this biRep Jason Sheppardll to prevent the over-reach of local governments from banning homeowners renting out their home on a short-term basis. We promote to other states to come take a vacation in Michigan and we want to make sure visitors have a place that will accommodate them, to get the best experience of our beautiful State, whether that be a hotel or a short-term house rental.” said Representative Jason Sheppard (56th- Temperance) “To me, this is about you, a homeowner, and your right to rent out your home” added Sheppard. If successful, the legislation would serve to “take away” local control of vacation and short-term rentals.

In Michigan, the realtor association has taken up the cause to fight for short term rentals.


Protect Property Rights and Help Michigan’s Tourism Industry
Tell Your Legislators to Support SB 329/HB 4503
Michigan has been a vacation and tourism destination for decades. The short-term rental of a fully furnished vacation home has long been a valued option for vacationers in Michigan.


CON Voices————————————————————————————————————————–

Also, there are many groups opposing these MI House and Senate Bills. The Michigan Municipal League has stated: “Short-term rentals are causing problems in many communities around the state by creating commercial activity in residential areas. Residential zoning exists to preserve the charter of neighborhoods and protect the property values for every home”.

The Michigan Township Authority has taken a strong position in opposition to these bills since they would reduce local control of zoning.
Providing analysis and insights for all things legislative impacting Michigan’s townships
Short-term rentals, property tax exemptions for disabled veterans and pension reform all top the legislative agenda when lawmakers return to Lansing next month.
Both the House and Senate are on summer recess, putting all bills on hold while representatives and senators work in their districts. But when they return after Labor Day, they’re expected to dive into a large number of issues that will impact townships.

Short-term rentals—Of particular concern is legislation that would take townships out of the equation when it comes to regulating short-term vacation rentals. Two bills—House Bill 4503, sponsored by Rep. Jason Sheppard (R-Bedford Twp.), and Senate Bill 329, sponsored by Sen. Joe Hune (R-Hamburg Twp.)—would effectively strip townships and other municipalities of their authority to regulate where vacation and short-term rentals can be located. Instead, the bills would specify that short-term rentals of 28 days or less are a residential—not commercial—property use, allowing them in all residential zones.

Townships also could not require any special use permit of rentals that they don’t require for all other residential homes. Their ability to regulate would instead be limited to ordinances on noise, advertising, traffic and other conditions—completely dismantling ordinances enacted in townships throughout Michigan to help curb problems arising from short-term rentals.

The legislation also could impact communities that have rental ordinances as well as future zoning by local government.

The Legislature is expected to take up the HB 4503 and SB 329 this fall. MTA continues to urge township officials to contact their state representative and state senator to stop this harmful legislation.
The Michigan Lake and Stream Associations has had many calls from its members and lake residents about this issue and has referred callers to the Michigan Waterfront Alliance. If you feel strongly about this issue please contact your local government body and state elected officials.





Join the “Adventures in Collective Water Management Network” on Friday, September 15th for an informative discussion about managing stormwater

September 11, 2017 12:01

This webinar is the 3rd in a series of free, on-going support for riparians following the ML&SA Conference in April 2017.

In Michigan, local communities have authority to require development standards that will lower the damage resulting from heavy rains and major storms. Adoption of many protections is the choice of local government. Do you want to know if your community has the needed protections, or if there is something more they could do? Do you have experience that you think has worked and you think could work elsewhere?

On Sept. 15, 2017, at 1:30 PM, The Adventures in Collective Water Management Network will be offering a forum to learn about local efforts for managing stormwater. This unique webinar format invites participants to contribute to the conversation. If you are inspired to help prevent future damage from storms in your local community, you will not want to miss this free online meeting.

Program Agenda:

1:30 – 1:40 P. M. Meeting Guidelines and program introduction – Monica Day, Water Resources Educator, MSU Extension

1:40 – 2:00 P. M. Who’s Who: Introductions of panelists and participants – Francisco Ollervides, Leadership Development Manager, River Network

2:00 – 2:15 P. M. Review the Rules Part 1: Stormwater management from a national perspective: CWA and Stormwater Management – Katherine Baer, Director Science and Policy, River Network

2:15 – 2:30 P. M. Review the Rules Part 2: Stormwater management: state role – Christe Alwin, MS4 Program Coordinator, Water Resources Division, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality

2:30 – 3:00 P. M. Get er dun: “Protecting water resources and public health with a regional sewer district” Chuck Olson, OMM Engineering

3:00 – 3:15 P. M. Energize with soft skills: What science says about how to gain and keep volunteers – Monica Day, Water Resources Educator, MSU Extension

3:15 – 3:30 P. M. Appreciations and Announcements Francisco Ollervides, Leadership Development Manager, RN

•  Space for the webinar is limited. Advance registration is required and can be found at here. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting. Registration will be accepted until 1130am on 9/15/2017.

Aquatic Invasive Species Alert! Red Swamp Crayfish Detected in Michigan

September 10, 2017 21:23


Red Swamp Crayfish
(Procambarus clarkii)

*Detected in Michigan*

•  Dark red color with bright red raised spots, look like small lobsters
•  Elongated claws and bony exoskeleton
•  Elongated head with a triangular rostrum
•  2.2 inches – 4.7 inches in length
Habitat: Red swamp crayfish live in Red Swamp Crayfisha variety of permanent freshwater habitats. Crayfish are crustaceans that burrow deep into the substrate of their habitat and create large mounds of sand and soil called chimneys with a relatively large hole in the center.
Diet: Crayfish feed heavily on snails, fish, amphibians, and plants.
Native Range: Mississippi river drainage and Gulf coast

U.S. Distribution (outside of native range): Established populations in California, Delaware, Maryland, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin. Introduced but not established in Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Nevada, and New York.
Local Concern: Red swamp crayfish compete aggressively with native crayfish species for food and habitat. Feeding behavior reduces the amount of available habitat for amphibians, invertebrates, and juvenile fish. Burrowing and foraging behavior can also lead to summer cyanobacteria blooms and eutrophic conditions.
Other Names: Louisiana crayfish, crawfish, crawdads. Louisiana “mudbugs”

Potential Means of Introduction: Aquaculture/aquarium trade, classroom/laboratory release, live bait dumping, small chance of introduction through fish stocking events

Report this species to Seth Herbst, MDNR, at or 517-284-5841 or at or download the MISIN app to your smartphone

To view an invasive red swamp crayfish focused  YouTube video that was recently produced by the
Michigan Department of Environmental Quality  click here

MiCorps Schedules 2017 Conference

August 8, 2017 17:52

2017 MiCorps Conference Flyer

Exploring the Role of Local Units of Government in Lake and AIS Management Workshop

July 7, 2017 10:01

ML&SA Annual Conference Workshop Follow-up

Presenters for the “Exploring the Critical Role of Local Units of Government in Lake and Aquatic Invasive Management” workshop that occurred during the 2017 Michigan Lake and Stream Associations annual conference continue to have bi-monthly “Zoom Meetings” with those who attended the original workshop, and any other interested persons.

The first learning and support session occurred on Friday, May 19, 2017, with many local government officials, riparians, and subject-matter experts participating from around the state using the Zoom Meeting internet connection. Participants explored the use of Overlay Districts as a planning and zoning approach to protect water resources. Also discussed during the session were success stories about interaction with agricultural stakeholders to enhance water quality efforts.

The next Zoom Meeting will be held on Friday, July 21, 2017 from 1:30 – 3:30 PM.

The deadline to register for this session is 1:30 PM on Thursday, July 20.

To download and/or view the agenda for the session, click here

Here’s the link to find out more about this great learning opportunity and to register for the event:

Everyone is invited to participate. The session will focus on the question/issue:
“Is the management of aquatic invasive species (AIS) a controversial subject in your area?” The Zoom webinar will cover tips for moving forward despite differences of opinion between riparians and fishing enthusiasts, demystify the DEQ aquatic nuisance plant treatment permitting process, and showcase stories from the frontlines in local rule making for boat washing, and the deployment of boat wash facilities.

The information posted in the “Adventures” group continues to expand, and is relevant for riparians, environmentalists, and local government officials.

Note: The Great Lakes Clean Communities Network hosts documents related to the annual conference workshop, and the bi-monthly Zoom Meetings. There is no fee for registration, however, use of a high quality internet access connection is highly recommended.

For more information, contact Monica Day, Michigan State University Extension Water Resources Educator, at 517-768-2046 (office).

Investigating Lake Ecology at Independence Oaks County Parks

July 6, 2017 11:58


With more than 1,400, Oakland County has more inland lakes than any other county in Michigan. Each lake has unique ecological properties which people influence by their activities on the land and in the water. In this hands-on workshop, participants will investigate lakes, common aquatic vegetation and their role in keeping lakes healthy, aquatic invasive species that threaten lakes, the effects of seasonal changes on lakes, as well as the physical, chemical and biological properties of the water. The workshop will be led by Michigan State University’s Dr. Lois Wolfson, Oakland County Park’s Melissa Nawrocki and Kegan Schildberg, and Michigan State University Extension’s Bindu Bhakta and Erick Elgin. Participants will have the opportunity to explore Independence Oaks County Park’s Crooked Lake via pontoon boat. Activities will also take place inside the Wint Nature Center, inside the Park.

Date, Place of the Event:

Saturday, July 22, 2017 at Independence Oaks County Park in the Wint Nature Center, 9501 Sashabaw Road, Clarkston, Michigan 48348.

Workshop Agenda:

8:30- 9:00 AM           Registration/check-in, light refreshments, educational displays

9:00- 1:00 PM           Workshop

 Location Details:

 Workshop Objectives:

  • Investigate components of ecology and seasonal changes that can impact a lake ecosystem
  • Explore water chemistry and other physical/biological tests to gauge lake health
  • Explore aquatic life in the lake’s transition zone (area between land and water) that helps promote a healthy ecosystem
  • Collect and identify native aquatic plant species
  • Collect and identify aquatic invasive species, and how to prevent their spread

About the Instructors/Organizers:

This workshop is sponsored by Michigan State University Extension and Oakland County Parks.

Dr. Lois Wolfson is a senior specialist with the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife and Institute of Water Research at Michigan State University. She also represents MSU Extension for the North Central Region Water Network. Her work focuses on educational and outreach programming in aquatic ecology, invasive species, and watershed management and in utilizing computerized information systems as tools for understanding water related issues. Dr. Wolfson teaches an upper level undergraduate field and laboratory course which offers experiential learning for students interested in lake and stream processes and biotic interactions, and is also an instructor for MSU Extension’s online Introduction to Lakes course. She received her masters of sciences degree in botany and doctoral degree in fisheries and wildlife from Michigan State University.

Erick Elgin is a Water Resources Educator for Michigan State University Extension. His job responsibilities include providing expertise in aquatic ecology to the state of Michigan and delivering educational programs that promote our understanding about water resources. Erick grew up on a small farm in Minnesota and went on to study water resources management and work with multiple habitat restoration companies and organizations. He has a master’s degree in aquatic ecology from the University of Calgary where he studied prairie pothole lakes in Alberta, Canada. He has extensive experience working with lakes, wetlands, and aquatic plants.

Melissa Nawrocki is the Recreation Program Supervisor and supports conservation education at Oakland County Parks. She also coordinates Parks’ citizen science programs and nature-based programs for the public.

Kegan Schildberg is the Natural Areas Stewardship Program Manager at Oakland County Parks, where he works on invasive species removal, prescribed burns, and habitat restoration. He also helps coordinate natural resource programs and events.

Bindu Bhakta is a Natural Resources Educator for Michigan State University Extension. She develops/delivers natural resources programs such as inland lake management, landscaping for water quality, and septic system education. She also helps coordinate the Michigan Conservation Stewards Program, which gives individuals the tools they need to conduct conservation-oriented volunteer service in Southeast Michigan and across the state.

Pre-registration is required. Registration cost is $40/person on or before July 14, 2017. The cost is $50/person on or after July 15, 2017. Workshop registration fee includes park entry, light morning refreshments, and educational resources.

Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development pesticide applicator recertification credits have been submitted for approval for this workshop.

Deadline to register is July 21, 2017. After this date, please call (248) 858-1639 to see if space is still available.

A $25/person cancellation fee will be assessed for those requesting a refund by July 21st. No refunds will be given after July 21st.

Register online:
If you are have trouble registering online, call (248) 858-1639.

Contact person(s), phone and email:

Workshop questions— Bindu Bhakta: (248) 858-5198 or

Registration questions— Cathy Morris: (248) 858-1639 or

For more information about MSU Extension Oakland County:

 For more information about Oakland County Parks:

 MSU is an affirmative action/equal opportunity employer. Michigan State University Extension programs and materials are open to all without regard to race, national origin, gender, gender identity, religion, age, height, weight, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, marital status, family status, or veteran status.

MiCorps Score the Shore Habitat Assessment

July 6, 2017 11:10

Deer Lake Score the Shore Imageby  Marcy Knoll Wilmes, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality Water Resources Division

Lake residents across the state are taking note of the importance of healthy shoreline habitat by signing up to Score the Shore of their inland lake. The Michigan Clean Water Corps (MiCorps; statewide volunteer monitoring program recently added this parameter for lake associations, lake residents, and local governments to protect high quality shorelines and to be aware of degraded shorelines that could benefit from improvements. The process starts by taking an aerial map of your lake and dividing it into 1000 foot sections. Volunteers assess each section separately to provide a section score, and at the end, a whole lake score is defined on a 0-100 scale.

While completing the Score the Shore procedure, volunteers look at the number of docks and homes, the percent of aquatic vegetation, terrestrial vegetation, and erosion control practices. Higher scores are calculated in sections with larger percentages of submerged or emergent vegetation as well as shoreline vegetation since these are important habitat for fish, birds, amphibians, and other animals. In addition, less impervious surfaces and wider vegetation buffers between maintained lawns and the water’s edge help preserve water quality by limiting erosion and slowing rain runoff.

If you are interested in becoming a MiCorps volunteer and signing up for Score the Shore in 2018, please review our website at or contact Jean Roth at 989-257-3715.

Join the Michigan Waterfront Alliance in Our Efforts to Increase State Funding of AIS Management

July 3, 2017 12:07

  • Are you tired of funding the management of aquatic invasive species on your lake that were introduced by recreational boaters using the local MI Department of Natural Resources public boating access site?
  • Are you just a bit angry that recreational boaters using your lake are not being asked to contribute their fair share to the battle against aquatic invasive species?
  • Are you worried about the fact that your lakefront residential property values are influenced by the presence of aquatic invasive species?
  • Are you concerned about the fact that it is nearly impossible to find an inland lake in Michigan that does not currently host one or more potentially harmful aquatic invasive species?
  • Are you aware of the fact that inland lakes are Michigan’s most valuable natural resource, and that our state legislature has appropriated almost nothing in the way of budget resources to help ensure they remain healthy and viable?

If your answer is yes to any of these important questions, please make your voice is heard by downloading, completing, and mailing in the resolution that appears at the link below.

Sponsored by the Michigan Waterfront Alliance, Inc., this resolution has been written in order to help focus the attention of our state legislators  on the increasingly significant issues associated with the steadily increasing presence of aquatic invasive species within our inland waters.

You may submit the resolution on behalf of your lake association, or as a concerned Michigan individual.

To download the Michigan Waterfront Alliance, Inc. sponsored aquatic invasive species focused resolution, click here


June 26, 2017 17:51

By Clifford H. Bloom, Esq.
Bloom Sluggett  PC
Grand Rapids, Michigan

There have been many headaches for lakefront property owners in Michigan over the years, particularly with regard to the latest watercraft “toy”. During the 1960’s and 1970’s, the main safety problem on inland lakes was speed boats (with or without water skiers) operated in a fast or unsafe fashion. During the 1980’s, the proliferation of jet skis or personal watercraft struck many riparians as a nuisance and safety hazard. Today, riparians are becoming increasingly concerned about the popularity of “wave boats” (also sometimes referred to as bladder boats, wave runner boats or wakeboard boats). Unfortunately, the impact of wave boats on Michigan inland lakes appears to be dramatically worse than the negative consequences of personal watercraft and conventional speed boats. As one law enforcement officer put it, personal watercraft are mosquitos and problem speed boats are bumble bees, while wave boats are African killer bees!

What is a wave boat? It is a watercraft of speed boat size (or slightly larger in some cases) that uses mechanical means to fill reservoirs (sometimes called “bladders”) with water or other liquid to increase the boat’s weight and mass, and to raise or lower the boat in the water. Depending upon how a wave boat is operated, it can throw a tremendous wake and create huge artificial waves. In fact, such boats are actually designed and intended to throw huge waves. That is part of the fun associated with these watercraft – they create waves that can be “surfed” by water skiers or wake boarders.

There are three major concerns regarding the use of wave boats in inland lakes. First, on many lakes, they have had severe negative environmental impacts. If one of the purposes of a wave boat is to create huge waves, that goal has proven all too successful! On some lakes, wave boats have caused considerable erosion along the shoreline and banks of the lake. Many riparian landowners have had to install new seawalls, rocks and other shoreline protection devices to protect against the huge waves and wakes intentionally generated by wave boats. Some riparians have even had to install larger seawalls to guard against increased erosion, as their existing seawalls are not adequate. Wave boats also keep the water “churned up,” particularly in shallower areas, thus disturbing plant life, fish, aquatic insects and other natural lake organisms.

The second negative impact of wave boats is property destruction (beyond the negative impacts of erosion). Riparians throughout the state have reported instances of moored boats being swamped, boat tether lines snapping, adjoining anchored boats being slammed into each other and similar property destruction caused by the huge waves generated by wave boats.

The third and final problem associated with wave boats involves safety. There have been reports throughout Michigan of people being thrown off swim rafts and even other boats due to the waves generated by a wave boat passing too close. The risk for bodily injury and even death to others associated with wave boats passing too close to (or even running into) other boats, swim rafts, fishing boats, or swimmers is obvious.

Can anything be done to solve the problems associated with wave boats? Many believe that wave boats should only be operated on the Great Lakes (and at some distance from the shore) or in very large inland lakes far away from the shore. However, there is no statute in Michigan that regulates or treats wave boats differently than conventional speed boats or pontoons. For decades, it has been the general policy of the State of Michigan not to “discriminate” against any particular type of boat or watercraft. A cynic might say that state officials believe that any type of substantial regulation of watercraft (including even potentially dangerous watercraft) would adversely impact tourism.

It is likely that the most practical way of minimizing the adverse impacts of wave boats is to vigorously enforce state boating laws. For example, any type of motor or power boat operated at greater than a slow or no-wake speed must remain at least 100 feet away from the shore, a dock or swim raft, a marked swim area, a swimmer or an anchored vessel. Both careless and reckless use of a watercraft are illegal. Water skiers and wakeboard users must also generally remain at least 100 feet away from any dock, swimming area or an anchored vessel. If such regulations are vigorously enforced, it could minimize the dangerous aspects of wave boats and even lessen shoreline erosion, but not completely solve the problem.

In addition, associations for lakes with heavy power boat usage (including potentially, wave boats) should consider “purchasing” extra sheriff marine safety patrol hours. That is a fairly common practice for many populated lakes throughout Michigan. The physical presence of law enforcement officials on a given lake normally does have a big impact upon boating speed and safety.

Some owners of wave boats argue that it is not fair to “profile” or “discriminate against” a particular type of watercraft. However, it cannot be denied that the impacts of wave boats on inland lakes in Michigan (particularly, smaller lakes) can be much more severe than conventional speed boats. Few would argue that it would be appropriate to use a huge cabin cruiser or a “cigar” power boat in a small inland lake. Highly specialized race cars of the type used at the Indianapolis 500 or the Daytona 500 races could be driven on the streets of a residential subdivision, but that certainly would not be safe or reasonable! The problems associated with wave boats are different from other watercraft, not only in kind but also in magnitude and intensity.

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