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What do you do when you find out your lake has been placed on the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s (MPCA) Impaired Waters list? If you were Nancy Carver of Little Rock Lake near Rice, Minn., you would start attending workshops and reading everything you could about restoring your shoreline and helping to make a lake healthy again.

"What I learned was making sure to have a properly working septic system and restoring a natural shoreline were two important things lake home owners could do on their own. My septic system checked out ok so the next step was to make the shoreline environmentally friendly to the lake,” says Nancy. The first things she did were to stop mowing all the way to the shore and plant some new native grasses to develop a buffer to the lake.

With help from her local Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD), Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), MPCA, and American Meadows, Nancy learned about more affordable options for natural plantings. Nancy says, “A SWCD manager and a DNR staff person came to my home and found some native flowers and bur reed already starting to grow along my shore. And American Meadows helped me choose more plants native to Central Minnesota and develop a planting plan.

“It was so exciting to see plantings bloom in all the colors and variety of native flowers earlier this summer. And now the bold colors of the fall blooms are beginning to show. I will continue to work on this project until nature takes control.”

Of course with any worthwhile project there are hurdles. Nancy says early on there was resistance among some of her neighbors because it appeared as though she was just ignoring her lawn and making their neighborhood look sloppy. By meeting with her neighbors and explaining her intentions were to create a natural shoreline and do her part to help restore the health of the lake, that resistance turned into acceptance and appreciation. Several neighbors are following her lead and developing plans to restore their shorelines as well.

Nancy says that without the help from the SWCD, DNR, MPCA, “and the muscle and sweat from a wonderful young man named Keith, this project would not have become a reality for me and my lake.”

It is also important to note that without the brains and passion of a wonderful young woman named Nancy Carver, this project would not have become a reality for our environment.