Lansing — A new state initiative is designed to help Michigan lakefront property owners use best-management practices to protect the waters.

Officials say the Michigan Shoreland Stewards Program will recognize landowners who are doing a good job and offer tips on how to make things better.

Julia Kirkwood of the Department of Environmental Quality says many people think owning lakefront property requires installing a seawall and clearing natural vegetation to make way for a lawn. But such activities can change the ecosystem, increasing erosion. They also leave fewer places for birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish to breed and feed.

Researchers say habitat loss is the biggest threat to Michigan’s inland lakes. One study found shoreline and nearshore habitat was in poor condition in more than 40 percent of Michigan’s inland lakes.

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