Lake-friendly tips for opening camp

May 25, 2022
As you open up camp for the season, follow these tips to protect the lake and its wildlife.

Yard Debris: Do NOT rake up the layer of leaves and pine needles – the duff – that builds up under the trees. This natural mulch acts like a sponge and filter to help prevent pollutants from getting into the lake, promote vegetation and provide wildlife habitat on your property. Downed branches and other debris should only be removed in areas where you recreate or walk. Leave as much of this natural layer as possible.

Septic systems: A properly functioning septic system prevents harmful pollutants from getting into the lake. Septic tanks activate naturally after the winter. Do NOT use any starter products to reactivate the system, as they interfere with natural tank bacterial action and can lead to failure of your leach field. Check your leach field for any breakouts and consider having the tank pumped if it has not been recently. Tanks should be pumped every 2-3 years for year-round residences and every 4-5 years for seasonal residences.

Boats: Dispose of drained lubricating oils at a recycling facility or bring the oil to your local dealer for disposal. Wash the boat away from the water or at a commercial car wash. Check to make sure that the boat, trailer and other equipment are free of any hitchhiking plants.

Culverts and Water Diverters: Culverts, open top culverts, and rubber razors need periodic inspection and cleaning to keep them free of leaves and sediment to function properly. Runoff into water diverters carries silt, which builds up and can reduce or eliminate the diverter’s capacity to function. In open top culverts, remove the silt that settles and similarly, clean out the silt that builds along the uphill edge of any rubber razor. Dredge the outlet edge of all diverters to remove the silt built up there.

Erosion: Check your property for signs of soil erosion, such as exposed rocks and roots, bare soil, and the formation of channels. Stabilize these areas with plants or erosion control mulch. For trouble spots caused by high water flow from steep paths, roofs or driveways, simple conservation practices like these found here will keep soil from polluting the lake.


Leaving the natural duff can provide a great habit for lady slippers.

Photo Credit: Josh Robbins (Banner)