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Restore Your Shore

Steps & Techniques: Reading Your Shoreline


Shoreline Zones

aerial lake lot illustration showing transformation of aquatic, transitional, and upland shorelines zones before and after restoration

Transitional, upland, and aquatic zones comprise what is referred to collectively as the buffer area or buffer zone.

Your scouting trips will provide opportunities to see a variety of buffer zones. You will learn to recognize the various elements of a buffer zone and see how those elements work together to protect the shoreline

Aquatic Zone - the area normally within standing water. Emergent, submersed, and floating-leaved plants are associated with the aquatic portion of the buffer zone.

Transitional Zone - the area of moist to saturated soil between the aquatic and upland zones. This area may be wide or narrow depending upon slope and water level fluctuations. There may be standing water in the spring and moist to dry soil in the summer and fall, but typically the transitional zone extends from the edge of standing water to the Ordinary High Water (OHW) mark. The OHW mark is also called the OHW line or OHW level (see Identifying Your Objectives, Constraints & Considerations).

Upland - The moist to dry area above the shoreline or the Ordinary High Water (OHW) mark.

Grasses, sedges, rushes, ferns, wildflowers, shrubs, and trees may grow in both the transitional and upland zones.


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