Planning Your Buffer Zone

restored shoreline

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.

headphone icon, Carolyn Dindorf closeup Carolyn Dindorf speaks of restoring the buffer zone.

inspecting a shoreline buffer area

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.

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