Lakes Appreciation Month reminds everyone to enjoy and protect Michigan’s lakes
LANSING — With Gov. Rick Snyder’s proclamation of July as Lakes Appreciation Month in Michigan, it’s the perfect time to encourage residents to enjoy and protect the state’s lakes.
Recreation on Michigan’s lakes – boating, fishing, birding, swimming and more on the water – leads to jobs throughout the state in support of a $7 billion recreational fishery, a $4 billion boating industry, and a major part of the state’s $38 billion tourism revenue.
Michigan’s 11,000 inland lakes and four Great Lakes provide a combination of water resources and recreational opportunities not available anywhere else. In his proclamation, Gov. Snyder recognized “the need to protect these resources for future generations,” stating that “lakes and shorelines are critical resources to Michigan’s environment and quality of life, providing sources of drinking water, irrigation, energy, commerce, recreation, scenic beauty, and habitat for fish and wildlife.”
“It’s important for everyone who uses and values Michigan’s lakes to do their part to protect them,” said Joe Nohner, inland lakes analyst for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. “Our inland lakes face threats from declining water quality, invasive species, changing climate and unnatural shorelines that lack vegetation or woody habitat. There are simple steps each of us can take to protect the lakes we love.”
Here are just a few ways to show appreciation for these valuable natural resources:
Be a lake volunteer.
Volunteer opportunities are available with programs across Michigan. Clean Boats, Clean Waters is recruiting “volunteer heroes” to help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species by showing boaters how to inspect their boats, trailers and gear. Michigan’s Clean Water Corps supports volunteers engaged in water-quality monitoring through its Cooperative Lakes Monitoring Program. Adopt-a-Beach volunteers remove litter from shorelines around the Great Lakes.
Protect your shore.
Lakefront property owners can learn more from the Michigan Natural Shoreline Partnership about maintaining natural shorelines to improve fish and wildlife habitat and keep the water clean. Learn how to be recognized through the Michigan Shoreland Stewards program.
Prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species.
Lakes Appreciation Month and Aquatic Invasive Species Awareness Week were kicked off by the 4th annual AIS Landing Blitz with outreach events at more than 60 boat launches, to raise awareness and prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species through recreational boating and related activities. When it’s time to head home from the lake, take steps to ensure aquatic invasive species don’t come with you:
• Remove weeds, mud and debris from boats and gear, and drain live wells and bilges before leaving the landing.
• Give boats and equipment at least five days to dry thoroughly before heading to a different body of water.
If that’s not possible, clean boats, water receptacles and gear with hot water or a diluted bleach solution before the next trip.
In short, remember to clean, drain and dry boats, trailers and gear after a day on the water. Concerned about aquatic invasive species? Consider inviting the free Mobile Boat Wash to a boat launch near you.
Take a friend or a young person fishing.
Fishing Michigan’s lakes provides an opportunity to spend quality time with someone, reunite a friend with a favorite hobby, or introduce someone to a new pastime. Whether it’s taking the boat to that favorite fishing hole or casting from a pier or quiet dock, fishing is a unique way to connect with the water.
Spend a day at the beach.
A picnic or a day of swimming is a great way to get the kids outdoors in the summer. A sunset stroll along the shoreline can be a relaxing end to a perfect day. Looking for a place to take your four-legged best friend? According to bringfido.com, there are 27 dog-friendly beaches across Michigan.
Float your boat.
If that boat is still covered and sitting on the trailer, or the kayaks haven’t yet left the garage, it’s time to hit the water. Take a cruise or paddle around the shoreline of your favorite lake to admire the waterfowl and flowering plants, or visit a new lake – with more than 1,300 public boating access sites around the state to choose from, it’s easy to plan a water-bound adventure.
The Lakes Appreciation Month proclamation was supported by the Michigan Inland Lakes Partnership, an organization that promotes collaboration to advance stewardship of Michigan’s inland lakes.