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Restore Your Shore

Shore Lore: Common Problems

Erosion: Shoreline

severe bank erosion

Shoreline Erosion occurs when land at the water's edge is eroded by wave action. It is primarily due to wind driven or boat driven wave action and is especially a problem during high water. Shoreline erosion results in diminished habitat for wildlife, additional expenses for restoring beaches, and loss of access.

One of the most important things to address in dealing with shoreline erosion is protection of the toe (bottom) of the slope. There are several options for stabilizing the slope toe. Riprap, seawalls, and other "hard-armor" techniques are commonly used, but often overused.

More economical and ecologically friendly methods can be used. See information on wattles and live stakes.

The use of erosion control fabrics is a key element in stabilizing shorelines.

Causes of Shoreline Erosion include:

eroded shoreline and lawn
  • Removal of native aquatic and shoreline vegetation that buffers the land from the water
  • Removal of ice ridges
  • Excessive, chronic recreational activity too close to the shore

Erosion at Fish Lake in Maple Grove, Minnesota (photos right and below), was creating an undercut bank. Biologs were set into the undercut bank and native plants were planted in the soil above. The roots grew into the logs, stabilizing the shore, and halting the erosion.

same shoreline planted with natives and fiber logs to prevent further erosion

Little Bass Lake Resort in Itasca County (photos at bottom), was losing about 6 inches of shoreline each year due to erosion. The native upland vegetation had been replaced with turf and the aquatic vegetation had been completely removed by the previous owner. With no aquatic vegetation to absorb the wave energy, the exposed shoreline supporting only shallow-rooted turf was easily eroded away by mild wave action.

To remedy the problem, the eroding shore was re-vegetated with native plants.

Aquatic plants were reestablished using transplants from existing beds in the lake, as prescribed by the DNR transplant permit. To prevent further shoreland erosion while the aquatic plants were becoming established, coconut fiber logs and willow bundles were anchored at the toe of the eroding shore.

List of species tolerant of erosion at the water's edge

restoring an eroded shoreline

See the "Starter Lists" in the Native Plant Encyclopedia.



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