Greet Your Neighbor Program
Improper shoreline development is the major threat to lake health and water quality in Northern Wisconsin. The 19,000 Vilas County lakeshore properties turn over on average every 5 years, and many of the damaging shoreline developments happen soon after a change in ownership.
Vilas County Lakes and Rivers Association (VCLRA) has launched an initiative to facilitate interpersonal communications with new shoreland property owners. Our objective is to facilitate these communications and provide helpful tools and practices that help protect our lakes. We want to ensure our lakes remain as healthy as the day the new owner moved there.
Lake associations have a vital role to play
VCLRA is enlisting the participation of lake associations to help personally greet new lake neighbors. This is because one-on-one, neighbor-to-neighbor connections are the most effective way to have a positive influence on a new lake property owner.
We encourage Lake Associations to create a “Greet Your Neighbor” program of your own! A welcome wagon approach is a friendly, encouraging way to share your lake community’s vision of waterfront living, build a good relationship with newcomers, and invite them to join your lake organization. VCLRA provides all the materials to get you started, including welcome letters, business cards, brochures, and talking points for responsible lake shore living. The principle elements of our initiative are:
- Announcement “business” cards to connect new owners with VCLRA and valuable information,
- A webpage dedicated to new shoreland owners on the VCLRA website to encourage and help new owners protect their lake, which includes an offer for a free annual membership in both VCLRA and Wisconsin Lakes, and
- A “Greet Your Neighbor” package to facilitate a positive face-to-face interaction with new neighbors on your lake.
Over 7,500 copies of our business cards have already been distributed in an effort to connect with new owners and encourage them to protect their property and their lake. These cards are shared with new owners through realtors, lake associations, title companies, chambers of commerce, libraries, County Land and Water office, County Zoning, and landscapers.
The VCLRA website maintains information resources as a means to broaden the exposure of the lake community to lake stewardship principles and make new owners aware of valuable resources, including Vilas County Land and Water, UW Extension Lakes, Wisconsin Lakes, and the WI Lakes Partnership. You can find the webpage developed to support the new owners initiative at https://vclra.org/new-owner/ .
Lake Associations are encouraged to identify properties that have recently changed hands (we have tools that help with this) and engage new lake property neighbors with a tailored welcome to help them get off to a good start. After all, they acquired the property because they love their lake. Our goal is to simply help them: Protect the lake you love.