Establishing a buffer zone is the core concept in the natural shoreline management approach. It is the physical space on your property where you will apply your efforts. Buffer zones serve to:
Stabilize shoreland and reduce erosion
Increase fish and wildlife habitat
Provide corridors for wildlife
Filter nutrients and pollutants
Enhance water infiltration and storage
Reduce lawn maintenance
Discourage nuisance wildlife
Create a natural aesthetic
Control insects naturally
Reduce the impact of water damage from upland sources
Lessen the impact of wave action in causing shore erosion.
Carolyn Dindorf speaks of restoring the buffer zone.
Now that you are aware of some of the advantages of a buffer zone, here are some simple guidelines for planning your own:
In the ideal buffer zone, native plants should extend as far into the lake as vegetation will grow and at least 25 feet above the water's edge, or at least 50% of your setback. Local shoreland ordinances call this the "shore impact zone." It is normally 50% of the required structural setback.
The most effective buffer will occupy at least 50% and preferably 75% of your shoreline frontage.