Sand or gravel beaches are exposed zones on lakes and rivers during low-water years. They are sparsely vegetated and usually dominated by annual and short-lived perennial plants. Seeds that have lain dormant for years in the beach sands can germinate in profusion under low water conditions.
Characteristic plants that are found on beaches include blue monkey-flower (Mimulus ringens), umbrella sedge (Cyperus rivularis), and least spike-rush (Eleocharis acicularis).
Beaches are not zones that a shoreland owner would attempt to restore because they are temporary communities that occur sporadically only in dry years. Nevertheless, they are ecologically important because there are a number of unique and unusual species that occur only in that zone. The most important thing a shoreland owner can do to promote these communities is to avoid activities that alter the natural beach substrate. Disturbances result from activities such as hauling in fill or sand, or installing structures such as riprap or seawall along the shoreline.