Michigan's freshwater resources highlighted during Lakes Appreciation Month
(WPBN/WGTU)-- Michigan's Great Lakes and inland lakes give the state many recreational, environmental and economic benefits, which is why Gov. Snyder has designated July 2016 as Lakes Appreciation Month.
In the proclamation, Gov. Snyder cites the vital importance of the state's lakes and reservoirs to Michigan's history, growth and financial health, and also recognizes the need to protect these resources for future generations.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources says the governor's proclamation follows the June release of Part 1 of Michigan's Water Strategy, which calls for inspiring stewardship for clean water and protecting and restoring aquatic ecosystems.
Tammy Newcomb, senior water policy advisor with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, said Lakes Appreciation Month offers an opportunity for everyone to take steps toward putting that water strategy into action.
"No other state is as defined by its plentiful water resources or the outdoor recreation opportunities afforded by those resources," Newcomb said. "With four Great Lakes, more than 3,000 miles of shoreline and over 11,000 inland lakes, Michiganders have much to be thankful for, and it's up to each of us to help protect our waters."
The DNR says here are just a few ways to show and share appreciation for this valuable natural resource:
- Take a friend or a young person fishing. Fishing Michigan's lakes is a great way 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 or romantic 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.
- Be a lake volunteer. Volunteer opportunities are available through water quality 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. Lakefront property owners can learn more about maintaining natural shorelines to improve fish and wildlife habitat from the Michigan Natural Shoreline Partnership and become recognized through the Shoreland Stewards program. Adopt-a-Beach volunteers remove litter from shorelines around the Great Lakes.
- Prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species. When it's time to head home from the lake, take steps to ensure 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.
Kevin Walters, aquatic invasive species biologist with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, reminds anglers to be vigilant with their use and disposal of bait.
"No matter where you are on the water, let's keep our lakes great - don't dump bait," Walters said. "Instead, place any leftover bait in the trash. Live bait can be released only in the same waterway where it was caught."
Lakes Appreciation Month will kick off with the 3rd annual Aquatic Invasive Species Landing Blitz July 1-10. The DNR says that's when volunteers will visit boating access sites across the state to demonstrate "Clean, Drain, Dry" techniques that help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species.
Lakes Appreciation Month is a national effort by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in partnership with the North American Lakes Management Society to promote the value and health of the nation's lakes and reservoirs.
The proclamation was supported by the Michigan Inland Lakes Partnership, an organization that promotes collaboration to advance stewardship of Michigan's inland lakes.