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Protecting Michigan’s Inland Lakes: A Toolkit for Local Governments



Michigan is known for its lakes – the Great Lakes, of course, but also our more than 11,000 inland lakes that have a special place in many of our hearts. Once the water quality of a lake is degraded it is very difficult and expensive to improve; preventing lake water quality problems is much cheaper and easier in the long run. The power to protect inland lakes is shared among all levels of government and all people have a stake in the outcome: clean water for drinking, swimming, fishing, boating, etc. Local governments have a role in helping to protect inland lakes through local planning because not all aspects or features of inland lakes are protected by state and/or federal laws and regulations.

Purposes of ordinances that protect inland lakes:
• prevent and control water pollution
• conserve natural beauty and open space
• conserve shore cover
• protect wetlands
• protect fish spawning areas, aquatic life, and wildlife habitat
• protect buildings from flooding
• control the location of buildings
• manage public access to the water

This toolkit for local governments consists of two parts

Part I consists of a four chapter publication entitled Protecting Michigan’s Inland Lakes: A Toolkit for Local Governments that focuses on understanding specific goals and connecting them with specific local options that can help achieve those goals. Case studies from different communities are also highlighted within this publication to illustrate how they achieved their goals. The tools contained in this book will help your municipality reach a variety of goals related to the inland lakes in your community. Examples presented in this book include improving conditions for native fish, birds, frogs, insects that make up a healthy aquatic ecosystem; reducing pollutants such as e-coli, excess nutrients or sediment; maintaining the natural or rural character of the community; and improving recreational opportunities such as swimming, boating, or fishing.

Part II of this toolkit consists of  more examples of ordinances from different communities, other support materials to help local municipalities implement changes, and related agency and organization contact information. To view additional examples of ordinances and other support materials associated with each chapter, click on the respective chapter below:

ChapterTitle Link
Chapter 1Connecting Lake Community Goals with Local OptionsClick here
Chapter 2Ordinances to Protect Your Inland LakesClick here
Chapter 3Education for SuccessClick here
Chapter 4Community HighlightsClick here

Cover of Local Govt Lake Management Book
Protecting Michigan’s Inland Lakes: A Guide for Local Governments, the companion publication to Part I and Part II of the toolkit, provides useful background information such as understanding the benefits of inland lakes to communities, the regulations that govern them, and the opportunities for protecting them at the local level. Protecting inland lakes at the local level does not always require elaborate or expensive regulations. There are both simple and complex planning and zoning tools that can be tailored to meet both the lake and a community’s needs. This toolkit is designed to provide local officials and concerned citizens with examples of different ordinances that can help protect the lakes in their communities. This well written and nicely illustrated guidebook consisting of six information rich chapters is available for free download by clicking here.