How to Create a Lake Management Plan in 4 Steps

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A problem of lake management is that it requires community involvement. All residents of the lake area should be involved in the process, since the goals of the community are a large part of a complete lake management plan. The four steps listed below explain why, and how, to create an active, community-focused lake management plan.

Step One: Outline the Physical Characteristics of the Lake

Creating a detailed report of the current lake conditions will help the community understand and assess where you are at, and where you want to be in terms of lake management. Some of the items to include in this assessment are:
Lake and watershed area
Lake depth and volume
Average rainfall
Water quality (including things like nutrient content, visibility, water hardness, etc)
Flora and fauna of the lake and surrounding area

Step Two: Create a List of Problems and Goals
Residents of the lake have bought their property there for a particular reason. For many, it is the natural beauty that lakes provide. For others, it is the recreational opportunities such as fishing and boating. Whatever the community's values are, they will impact your lake management plan just as much as algae problems or other water quality issues. Whatever you decide to address in your lake management plan, you should write out a detailed problem list with actionable goals.

Step Three: Outline Several Options for Managing Problems and Meeting Goals

For each item that you wrote in step two, you should have two or three solutions to offer the community. This may take some research to see what different ways there are to tackle a problem like, for example, algae control. Because you will almost always need community support to enact a lake management solution, it is important to give the community options and have them help make the decision of what action to take.

Step Four: Decide on Concrete Steps and Create a Lake Management Time-line

As a group, you and the lake community should decide on what steps to take as part of your lake management plan. Lay out those steps on a time-line and encourage all in the community to take an active role. When everyone is committed to keeping the lake's ecosystem healthy, your chances for success are much higher.

The University of Wisconsin created a model lake management plan that is very helpful for first-time planners. You can find the link at the end of this article under “Sources.” This is an excellent resource to get a more detailed look at what a good lake management plan looks like, as well as how to involve the community throughout the process.

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