Photo Credit:usacenad

Adding sand to your lake shore or lake bottom often seems like a great idea to create a sand beach, and something that certainly can’t harm our lake. In fact, as discussed in our spring, 2013 newsletter, sand added to our beaches poses one of the greater threats to our lake and its habitat. Our lake is a very dynamic environment. Wave and wind action can be significant, and erosion of shorelines is common where not naturally protected. This becomes evident when you note that there are shorelines with significant sand shores, and others where the shore is predominantly clay, muck or rock. These latter shores can withstand the actions of wave without significant erosion.

Placing sand on beaches where Mother Nature has eliminated it only serves to add potential contaminants on the shore which will wash into the lake in due time. Much of the seemingly clean sand will contain contaminants. Even pure sand can harm the lake’s habitat. The sand washes into the rocky shallow areas, choking off important habitat for small fish and other aquatic life, and can also reduce spawning success.  Some townships now prohibit beach sanding, and others are considering such bans. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, through the Michigan DEQ permitting process, requires a permit for such sanding. For more information on the harmful impact of placing sand on our lake beaches, visit, or review the Tip of the Mitt’s summer 2011 Current Reflections newsletter.

Another potential problem for our lake consists of shoreline management, such as grooming tilling and other activities that disturb the natural vegetation. We should all be aware of the recent battle to control phragmites, the invasive plant which is literally choking many down state lakes. Phragmites and other invasiveness can spread great distances in the water when disturbed, and must be controlled carefully. Tilling or other methods used to eradicate shoreline plants can greatly spread unwanted plants around our shores. With our current low water levels, it becomes more tempting to try to eliminate plant growth. Obviously, spraying herbicides on the shore is introducing the very yard chemicals into the lake the greenbelt is trying to filter, and should be avoided. Most townships around the lake ban such applications. If you have shoreline issues, please contact the Charlevoix Conservation District (231-582-7341), MSU Extension (231-582-6232) the Tip of the Mitt (website above), or LCA using For the protection of our lake, please avoid beach sanding and improper bottomland management.