A recent survey shows that because of the Shoreline Habitat Restoration Project, community members indicated that they have an increased knowledge of fish and wildlife issues.
Last fall, White Lake’s $2.1 million shoreline habitat restoration project, implemented by the Muskegon Conservation District, in partnership with the White Lake Public Advisory Council (PAC), was officially completed. During the fall, Great Lakes Consulting, responsible for coordinating the project’s education and outreach component, conducted a survey to measure the effectiveness of public education and outreach activities implemented during the project.
The survey was developed through Survey Monkey, an online survey software and questionnaire tool, and disseminated electronically via the White Lake Public Advisory Council email lists and website, and through distribution of hard copies at, the White Lake Community Library and the Montague Branch (Muskegon Area District Library). The survey, publicized in the White Lake Beacon and in the Muskegon Chronicle, was not limited by age or to residents of the White Lake area, but was distributed to visitors and outlying residents also. The final survey was completed by 110 people. It was compared to results of an initial survey done prior to the project in a similar manner, using Survey Monkey and the same distribution methods.
Findings of the final survey include:
• The majority of respondents use White Lake for wildlife viewing. This is important because it indicates community interest in and support for fish and wildlife habitat restoration.
• The results of the initial survey directed the focus of outreach and education efforts toward the use of email, website, and newspaper articles, which appears from the results of the final survey to have been appropriate choices.
• Those who completed the final survey showed more knowledge of two invasive species targeted for removal from in and around White Lake: phragmites and honeysuckle.
• Slightly over 90% of respondents of the final survey indicated the project was either very important or somewhat important, up slightly from the initial survey’s numbers of 84.3%.
Education is still needed on the different types of shorelines, and making a more direct connection between larger fish populations and “softer” shorelines.
Although the results of the final survey indicate continued education is needed on the topic of shoreline practices, it appears that there is increased knowledge of soft shoreline stabilization, one of the main elements of the project.
Results of the final survey show a significant overall increase in respondents familiar with the Muskegon Conservation District (from 37.6% to 51.4%), the White Lake Public Advisory Council (from 31.2% to 45.9%), the White Lake Shoreline Habitat Restoration Project (from 22.2% to 52.3%), White Lake as an Area of Concern (from 34.8% to 49.1%), and efforts to clean up/restore White Lake (from 39.2% to 56.9%).
Over three fourths of the respondents have visited one or more of the project’s habitat restoration sites.
Nearly three fourths of the respondents have observed wildlife at one or more of the habitat restoration sites.
Well over half of the respondents indicated that the project increased their knowledge of fish and wildlife habitat issues.
The project prompted a change in behavior in over a third of respondents, such as using or considering the use of native plant landscaping and/or removal or consideration of removal of invasive plants.
According to Jeff Auch, executive director of the District and current chair of the PAC, “While we are pleased that the education and outreach boosted local knowledge of White Lake’s fish and wildlife habitat issues, it will be important to continue education regarding the habitat restoration sites, to ensure the public is aware that up to five years may be necessary for the sites to be fully completed. In addition, ongoing education is also necessary to ensure greater public knowledge of shoreline practices and their relationship to fishery and wildlife health.”
Visit www.muskegoncd/whitelakepac to review the entire report on the final survey. For more information or questions, call (231) 981-0016.