Michigan Natural Shoreline Partnership Delivers Natural Shoreline Education Through Diverse Partnerships to Help Protect Michigan’s Inland Lakes

Bindu Bhakta
Michigan State University Extension (MSUE)
Ms. Bhakta has served as a Natural Resources Educator for MSUE based in Oakland County in Southeast Michigan since 2005. She earned a double Bachelor’s Degree from University of Michigan in 1995 in Natural Resource Management and Anthropology-Zoology, and a Master’s Degree from Cornell University in the Department of Floriculture and Ornamental Horticulture in 2001. She currently develops and delivers public education programs on a variety of natural resource-related topics including natural shorelines on inland lakes, introduction to lakes, landscaping for water quality and onsite wastewater education and also helps coordinate MSUE’s Michigan Conservation Stewards Program, a leadership development program which trains participants to carry out ecosystem-based volunteer conservation service in their communities. She serves the Michigan Natural Shoreline Partnership as a Shoreline Educator and member of the Education and Outreach Committee.
Other presenters/researchers: 
Julia Kirkwood, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ); Michele Arquette-Palermo, Clinton River Watershed Council; Jim Brueck, North Oakland Wild Ones Chapter; Kathleen Dougherty, Oakland County Parks; Jacy Garrison, Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner’s Office; Beth Perris, MDEQ; Sue Tepatti, MDEQ; Laura Zigmanth, North Oakland Wild Ones Chapter

The 2007 National Lake Assessment identified the biggest problem with the nation’s lakes is poor lakeshore habitat. Michigan’s 11,000 inland lakes face many threats to shoreline/shallow water areas, including native vegetation removal leading to unstable shorelines and habitat loss. In an effort to help residents understand the need for natural shorelines, the Michigan Natural Shoreline Partnership (MNSP) formed in 2008 with the mission of promoting natural shorelines.

Oakland County’s 1,400 lakes possess a unique combination of economic, aesthetic, and ecological value. Since 2012, Michigan State University Extension (MSUE) coordinated diverse community partners to deliver educational workshops led by trained “Shoreline Educators” focused on the importance of stable shorelines to protect against erosion from wave energy, ice push and runoff while providing suitable fish and wildlife habitat. Post-program reflective surveys showed an increase in knowledge related to the importance of natural shorelines, rules and regulations, and ability to access shoreline information.

Poster Division: 
Non-student