Thoughtful owners of lakeside homes can follow a few simple best management practices for protecting Lake Leelanau and its surrounding watershed.


Best Practices Lake Leelanau

Shorelines are critical transition areas from land to water.  A natural shoreline protects the lake and provides a habitat for fish and wildlife.

  • Maintain a greenbelt - a 20–35-foot natural buffer along 70% of your shoreline to help provide filtration to trap pollutants, prevent overgrowth of noxious aquatic plants and algae, reduce erosion and discourage geese
  • Use native plants – flowers, shrubs, and grasses - to stabilize shorelines which provide habitat for wildlife and prevent erosion.  These plantings can be beautiful and do not have to look messy or unkept.
  • Plant native trees for habitat and to help offset storm damage and replace dying or diseased ash, birch, beech, and oaks.
  • Plant rain gardens to allow rainwater to soak in and not run into the lake.
  • Use a mulching mower.  Place composting leaves and yard trimmings at least 50 feet from surface water.  Excess leaves in the lakes and creeks degrade water quality.
  • No boat wake with 100 feet of any dock, raft, pier, shoreline, or restricted area to minimize erosion. It’s the law!
  • Call an expert if you have shoreline erosion.  They may be able to help stabilize the shoreline without the use of rip rap or seawalls which prevent animals from coming ashore.  See the Resources tab.

Minimize Pollution

  • Irrigate with lake water if you have a well.  It provides nutrients and preserves groundwater.
  • Use eco-friendly pesticides and fertilizers, and only use if indicated by a soil test or professional consultant; eliminate all use of fertilizers within 100 feet of the water’s edge.
  • Properly store pesticides, fertilizers, and fuels.  Take part in hazardous waste collections for these and other items like paints and medical waste.
  • Inspect your boat, mower, and vehicles for fuel and oil leaks.
  • Don’t use shampoos or soap in the lake. Use only eco-friendly soaps, shampoos and detergents, and NEVER in the lake.
  • Dispose of pet waste in the trash so bacteria doesn’t wash into the lake.
  • Avoid refueling over water and always use a catch cloth. Spills harm the ecosystem and result in fines.
  • Keep fire pit ash, leaves, grass clippings, golf balls, and firework litter out of the lake.
  • Do not feed waterfowl. It is unhealthy for them and the lake.
  • Firework litter harms the lake. Please clean up after your celebration.
  • Make sure all life jackets, bottles, cans, etc. are properly stowed when driving boats on the lake so they do not end up in it.
  • Don’t hit golf balls into the lake. It is against the law.

Stop invasive species

  • CLEAN, DRAIN, DRY, AND DISPOSE are key watchwords to consider to keep invasive plants and animals from entering lakes and creeks
    • Clean: Boats, trailers, and equipment
    • Drain: Live wells, bilges of all water
    • Dry: Boats and all equipment
    • Dispose: Unwanted bait in the trash
  • Dispose of bait, plants, aquatic animals, and fish from aquariums and ponds in the garbage….never in the lake.

Maintain your septic system

  • Have your system inspected to make sure it is working properly and have it pumped periodically (every 3-5 years).
  • Avoid using bleach and commercial products that claim to maintain the tank and septic system.
  • Avoid the use of a garbage disposal.
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