You must be organized to take advantage of grant funds from any source. Below are some simple steps to form an organization. If you are already organized, the tips below will help you find funds from Indiana for work at your lake.
If not already organized. Get together a group of lake property owners you know. To start, find those you know who already share your views. Others will join later. Ask for help! Most other lake groups will share their experiences, even their articles of incorporation and by-laws. You should incorporate, too. People and existing lake associations that are already organized are your best initial source of “How To” information.
The annual ILMS conference and ILMS workshops are great places to learn about lake issues and find information!
Getting involved. Even if your lake is already organized, helpful information to involve your property owners and others is readily available. “Engaging and Involving Stakeholders in Your Watershed” is a good “how to” source available on the EPA web site.
Get everyone together. If you are already organized, other lake residents are your best source of information. People who have lived on the lake for a long time are specially helpful. Hold a meeting and find out what’s bothering them about the lake: aquatic plants, dredging, poor water quality, what?. What do THEY see as the primary problems, and why. List those concerns in order of severity or interest. It’s a lot of work, but it’s a good idea to conduct a survey of your lake. Part time residents, permanent, how many boats, and how many dwellings around the lake. Many other associations have done this and are a good source of finding out what to ask and how to do the survey. Start collecting photos of your lake and it’s problem areas.
Know your lake. Your first step is to know your lake. You’ll need a diagnostic study. It will tell you what’s going on with your lake, the water quality, aquatic plant survey, watershed identification, and more. And you’ll get a priority list of what to do first, second, etc. The diagnostic study is the most important step you can take toward lake enhancement and lake management.
Communicate! You’ll not get anywhere with lake and watershed improvements if you do not communicate with your association members and/or property owners around your lake. Keep them informed. Use the telephone, local newspaper, every way you can. A regular newsletter mailed to your members and/or property owners is absolutely the best way. Get it started and keep it going not less than four times a year! Good communications will also help you grow your membership and participation.
Get to know LARE. Indiana’s Lake and River Enhancement (LARE) program is your first route for funding. If approved, LARE will pay up to 90% of the cost of a study, and up to 75% of a project construction. Go to the LARE site and spend some time reading. You’ll find guides there to help you apply for funding, a list of consulting contractors who handle these kinds of issues, application forms, and more. Learn more about LARE on the DNR website.
Learn about lakes. An effective lake enhancement or watershed program cannot be undertaken unless you know your stuff. Read everything you can find about the ecosystem of a lake. There are plenty of sites on the internet with information. Visit our Helpful Links page where we provide links to a number of valuable online resources. Members of the ILMS Board will also steer you in the right direction. And, you’ll find helpful views on the NALMS web site as well. Don’t be afraid to search the web or the State of Indiana site. Learn the buzz words like: ecosystem, trophic index, non-point source, point source etc., these will help you better communicate with everyone. The Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has plenty of information, and consultants will often even help you with some basics without charge.