A key piece of our mission is stewardship of our waterways. We believe that getting paddlers out on the water and educating them on stewardship best practices is one of the key ways to keep our waters pristine. We also offer grants through our Ripple Effect Mini-Grant program to local organizations doing ground projects and stewardship education. These mini grants spread our message to a larger audience and help us deliver on our mission to keep our waterways pristine.

Aquatic Invasive Species
We believe paddlers who are connected to our waterways are the best resource for identifying and reporting aquatic invasive species. We partner with organizations such MI Paddle Stewards to host classes to train the paddling community on monitoring AIS. Identification, reporting and removal of AIS is an important part of our stewardship mission. 

Here are steps you can take to help stop the spread of AIS:

  1. Clean – Always remove mud, plants, fish and organisms from your boat and gear. If possible, high-pressure spray, rinse with water >140°, or soak in vinegar for 20 minutes.
  2. Drain – Drain water from hatches, boat wells, bags, bailers and containers before leaving the lake or river.
  3. Dry – Dry your boat and gear to deprive aquatic invasives of the moisture they need to survive, ideally at least five days.

Loon Protection
Common Loons are threatened in Michigan and nest along the water trail. It is important to our mission that paddlers remain aware of loons and do their best to avoid them especially during nesting season. Here are some ways you can help protect them:

  • Avoid active nesting sites (typically May & June) & young chicks on the water. Watch from “binocular range” as close encounters cause incubating adults to abandon the eggs.
  • If you see a loon hunkered (pictured) on nest or give a tremolo call (crazy laugh), you are too close!
  • Retrieve all fishing line and tackle.
  • Use lead-free sinkers and jigs.
  • Report violations (with photo/video if possible) to the MDNR at 800-292-7800.

Watershed Protection

The Chain of Lakes Water Trail is in the Elk River Chain of Lakes Watershed. Educating those who live in and around the watershed on best practices to protect the watershed is an important part of our mission. We do this through our Ripple Effect Mini Grant Program, through writing and sharing educational articles, and through our work with local organizations. Here are some ways you can protect the watershed:

  • Dispose of chemicals and waste – including pet waste – properly. 
  • Use fertilizer sparingly or not at all.
  • Allow vegetation to grow along the shoreline to prevent erosion.
  • Fix leaks in your car – fluids from cars end up in the water after rainfalls. 
  • Plant native species in your gardens. 

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