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
- Trap sediments
- Reduce lawn maintenance
- Naturalize property
- 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.