Lake ecology workshop to discuss healthy water habits

By: Sherri Kolade | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published July 19, 2017

OAKLAND COUNTY — You don’t have to live right on the lakes to be encouraged to help keep them thriving.

That is a message that an annual 2017 Investigating Lake Ecology Workshop will cover 9 a.m.-1 p.m. July 22 at the Independence Oaks County Park Wint Nature Center, 9501 Sashabaw Road in Clarkston.

Whether you mow the grass or jet ski on lakes, the workshop will explain how to keep the lakes safe and sound.

The workshop will be led by Michigan State University’s Lois Wolfson, Oakland County Parks’ Melissa Nawrocki and Kegan Schildberg, and the Michigan State University Extension’s Erick Elgin and Bindu Bhakta, according to a press release.

The hands-on workshop will give attendees the chance to investigate lakes, common aquatic vegetation and their place in keeping lakes healthy, according to the press release. Also on tap for discussion are aquatic invasive species that threaten lakes; the effects of seasonal changes on lakes; and the physical, chemical and biological properties of the water, the release states.

Wolfson said that the event, which has occurred for about the last five years, grew out of a conservation stewards program.

“We know that there is a lot of people in Oakland County that are particularly interested in lakes. … We thought it would be something that people would be interested in, learning more about their lakes,” she said, adding that the event also will make attendees more aware of threats that might occur within the lakes.

Oakland County has 1,400 inland lakes, which is more than any other county in Michigan, Wolfson said. Each lake has unique ecological properties, which people influence by their activities on the land and in the water, according to the press release.

She added that people’s activities, whether on the lake or off, tend to impact the lake for the good or bad.

“I think that from these types of workshops, we find that people become more aware of things they can do on an individual basis with respect to perhaps their shorelines — preventing shoreline erosion, preventing loss of habitat. Making sure they are good stewards of the land and prevent nutrient runoff,” Wolfson said.

Past attendee Mike Dougherty, of Springfield Township, said during a phone interview that the biggest thing he learned from the workshop he attended is a better understanding of lake ecology in Michigan and the impacts that are positive and negative.

While he does not live on the lakes, he uses local lakes and is on the board of North Oakland Headwaters Land Conservancy, a nonprofit conservation group.

“Water is a very precious resource,” he said, adding that residents should understand that if they live along the lake, what they do in terms of mowing, fertilizing and boating can have an impact. “Have that awareness … and this workshop gives you the awareness and understanding of those impacts.”

Activities will take place at the Wint Nature Center inside Independence Oaks Park.

Registration costs $50 per person.

The workshop registration fee includes park entry, light morning refreshments and educational resources.

Register online at

The deadline to register is July 21. Attendees who register after that date are asked to call (248) 858-1639 to see if space is available.