Lake Stewardship and Ideas
Lake Stewardship Activities & Ideas
As the people of the lake, you share a direct connection and common interest with your neighbors and other lake enthusiasts: your shared passion for your lake and perhaps all Wisconsin’s lakes. Lake groups and individual property owners can influence how residents take care of their lake by organizing lake community events like lake fairs; welcoming new lake property owners to the lake, making sure all residents know lake community expectations for lake use rules and management of individual lake property.
Lake fairs can be fun and educational events for the whole lake community—families, lake residents, lake users, and the general public. Lake fairs can blend a sense of discovery with entertainment; people can learn new things about their lake while enjoying the day with friends and family. It’s a good way to host an “all lake” social, where lake folks can meet new people and build relationships with others that enjoy the lake. Lake fairs can also allow people to gain some hands-on experience and talk to experts in a very informal setting.
The Twin Lakes Conservancy and Lake Nancy Protective Association have held successful events using a lake fair format to provide lake education to youth. Wisconsin Lakes provided some financial assistance through our youth grant program and you can read details about these events on our youth grant page. The Guide below offers tips on planning a lake fair.
A Guide to Designing a Lake Fair (PDF 458 KB)
Shoreland Stewardship: Ideas for Reaching Waterfront Property Owners
Local shoreland education programs can be an effective way to introduce new property owners to ways they can manage their properties to preserve lake values. Many lake groups have put together welcome packets for new residents with resources on preserving or restoring shorelines and local regulations—such as county zoning or boating ordinances—that apply to the lake.
Developing an educational plan is an important part of designing a successful welcome packet. Educational plans help project organizers identify important shoreland issues, the target audience(s), educational messages, the most effective and efficient ways to deliver educational messages, available talent and resources, and strategies to achieve long term goals. There are many free publications related to shorelands, but including too much information is likely to result in packets that are set aside to be “read later.” An educational plan can help lake groups focus on identified priority issues, select key publications that address those issues, and develop local publications where necessary.
Waterfront living packets can help lake property owners avoid mistakes—like failing to get a permit—before they happen. They can also encourage people to maintain or restore shoreland areas to preserve lake community values such as good water quality, aesthetics, and prevention of aquatic invasive species. In addition to introducing new residents to larger lake community values, waterfront living packets can be a good way for lake group volunteers to meet and welcome new people to the lake, and invite them to participate in the lake group and other local lake issues.
The Shoreland Friends Guidebook (download below) includes step-by-step instructions for shoreland educational planning and ideas for implementing the educational plans. It also describes the compilation, distribution, and evaluation of packets of shoreland educational materials. DNR lake grants may be a source of funding for shoreland stewardship projects.
What do you enjoy about being at the lake? Clear waters, frogs floating on lily pads, the mysterious call of the loon rising like lake mist, herons fishing in the shallows, feeding ducks off your pier, first fish caught by grandchildren, the trees and flowers that frame spectacular shoreland views? Our answers may vary, but healthy shorelines are essential for many of our favorite lake memories and experiences.
Whether plants and animal residents are seasonal or year round, they all need healthy habitat to call home. How you manage your shoreline will determine how attractive it is to birds, frogs, turtles, fish, and other wildlife. For many lake lovers, sharing the waterfront with these lake neighbors enhances the scenic beauty that makes Wisconsin lakes so special.
Lakeshore property owners are lake stewards: the choices they make on our lake’s shorelines directly affect water quality and lake health. Maintaining or restoring a natural shoreline benefits the lake and property owner. Natural shorelines contain a lush mixture of native grasses, flowers, shrubs and trees. These plants help maintain water quality by filtering polluted runoff, and controlling erosion, and flooding, provide habitat for fish and other lake creatures, can muffle noise from watercraft, all while property owners enjoy a natural lake view and increase their privacy.
The plants filling in the distance between the edge of intensely managed property (lawns, buildings, walkways etc.) and the water’s edge is called a shoreland buffer. While the ideal width of a shoreland buffer may vary based on the sensitivity of the lake ecosystem, and amount of natural shoreland is better than none, and the more the better. Wisconsin's statewide shoreland zoning rules (NR 115) set minimum standards for shoreland buffer widths (35 feet) and setback of structures (75 feet). Local governments can set more protective standards for their lakes.
Shoreland preservation and restoration resources
Natural Shorelines Restoration Stories (PDF 6.1 MB)
Lakescaping for Wildlife and Water Quality (exits site)
Protecting and Restoring shorelands (PDF 968 KB)
A Fresh Look at Shoreland Restoration (PDF 623 KB)
Shoreline plants and landscaping (PDF 545 KB)