As of late winter 2011, the first round of landowner surveys (KAP) has been completed and the incentive programs have been designed and partially implemented. East Otter Tail's (EOT) survey was mailed to 800-plus shoreland homeowners throughout the county who own more than 120 feet of shoreline. Itasca's survey was administered door-to-door to 300-plus shoreland homeowners on four lakes in the county.
In contrast with the assumptions of many water quality project staff, KAP data show that most respondents are already very knowledgeable about water quality and shoreland management. Respondents prefer a "high touch" presence of shoreland educators, rather than financial incentives, to install buffers.
The majority in both counties believe that clean water affects property values.
Lake association membership was very high in Itasca County (88%), while very low in EOT (35%).
Show that attitudes appear to be not future-oriented. They prefer natural shorelines (70%) over replanted shorelines (20%) or lawns (5%). Seek information about their lake from their:
- lake association (73%),
- MNDNR (64%),
- neighbors (63%)
- and the Internet (42%)
- in-kind technical support for buffer design and plant selection (70%),
- a guidebook (56%),
- web site (45%)
- or direct contact from a professional (36%)
In contrast, only 24% leaned toward a financial incentive. Local lake associations will be a key component in the Itasca engagement strategy. Data also identified potential issues that might prevent respondents from adopting a buffer (e.g. insects, access to boats and beaches), that can be specifically addressed in outreach efforts.
East Otter Tail residents:
Place a higher value on water quality than any other characteristic (good fishing, affordability, convenience, etc.).
74% rank water quality as their most important feature.
70% were not considering changing their shorelines and most do not believe that water quality will get worse. 70% report already having a natural shoreline.
Use rip-rap for erosion control (35%), followed by adding vegetation or plants (18%).
Seek shoreland information from:
- MNDNR (43%),
- lake association (41%),
- neighbors (33%),
- county government (22%)
- and the Internet (22%)
28% do not seek information about shoreland in EOT.