Native Shoreland Buffer Incentives
Survey and Incentives

Survey Overview

The first round of landowner surveys ending in 2011 (KAP) was 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%).


The incentives that were created by each of the counties were unique to their target demographic as well as their communities unique cultural and socioeconomic setting. These incentives were also crafted in response to the results of the first round of surveys.

Itasca County

Survey Result Summary

  • 2/3 are SEASONAL owners
  • Lake association is great link to owners
  • 68% prefer native shorelines (2009) and 77% (2011)
  • ALL want to be good stewards of their property
  • Huge interest in fish & wildlife
  • 40% enjoy lawn maintenance
  • Little perception of lake trends
  • None could describe local shoreland ordinances
  • They prefer natural shorelines (70%) over replanted shorelines (20%) or lawns (5%).

Respondents seek information about their lake from their...

  • lake association (73%),
  • MNDNR (64%),
  • neighbors (63%) and
  • the Internet (42%). Respondents prefer information in the following formats:
  • 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.

Responding to the survey and other information, the Itasca Water Legacy Partnership and the Itasca SWCD carried out the following incentives:

  • Itasca County Lake Challenge (template and website)
  • Lake Challenge workbooks (tested by Master Gardeners and students)
  • Lake Challenge activities (workshops and citizen research)
  • Public workshops (fish, frog, etc.)
  • Peer messengers
  • Collaboration with lakeshore associations
  • Landscaping for Your Lake: A Guide to Protecting Water Quality with Perennial Plantings
  • Social marketing advice from Action Media
  • Evaluation/social research (Pre/post KAP studies; participant interviews; focus group; boat-by)
  • Link to full Itasca Report

East Otter Tail Summary

Survey Results Summary

  • Very high levels of concern expressed for clean water and stewardship
  • Levels of knowledge were high
  • Lake association is best link to owners
  • Strong sense of legacy (53% have owned parcel 31+ years)
  • 70% already have native shorelines
  • Little perception of lake trends
  • About 1/3 have tried erosion control, with little success.
  • Bluff lands over lakes are problematic

Respondents seek shoreland information about their lake from their...

  • MNDNR (43%),
  • lake association (41%),
  • neighbors (33%),
  • county government (22%) and
  • the Internet (22%).
  • 28% do not seek information about shoreland in EOT.

Responding to the survey and other information, the East Otter Tail SWCD carried out the following incentives:

  • Template-based buffer designs
  • Shoreland buffer guidebook based upon KAP #1 findings (Otter Tail County Lakeshore Landscaping Manual)
  • High touch: workshops and on-site visits to properties
  • Medium-touch: workshops
  • Low touch: newsletter mailings and guidebooks
  • Peer-to-peer communication
  • Collaboration with lakeshore associations
  • Evaluation/social research (Pre/post KAP studies; participant interviews)
  • Link to full Otter Tail Report

Summary of Both Projects

To see more summary results of these two projects, see Summary PowerPoint .

For a detailed summary of both projects, see Detailed Summary Report .

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