More than just a pretty view…
Shorelines and stream banks are important parts of aquatic ecosystems. They provide a natural barrier between land practices and waterbodies and by properly managing these areas, health of our lakes, rivers, and streams can be greatly improved. The health of a lake or stream is directly tied to how the land is managed.
Read more below to learn how to manage your shoreline to protect water quality:
Your property plays an important role in the health of your lake. Learn how you can help your lake:
Leave a natural (or at least an unfertilized) buffer of 15 to 25 feet along lakes. This will reduce and filter runoff, deter geese, and keep chemical use away from the water.
The long roots of native plants help hold your shoreline in place and prevent erosion. Even a shoreline buffer along a portion of your shoreline will help improve the health of the lake and provide important wildlife & pollinator habitat.
Flowering native plants can make a buffer a beautiful addition to your yard. Many new developments have designated buffer areas around wetlands and watercourses – look for signs marking the buffer boundary and refrain from mowing, fertilizing, or dumping (lawn clippings, pet waste, etc.) in the buffer.
For free technical assistance to plan your own shoreline project, contact the Scott Soil & Water Conservation District at 952-492-5425. Funding may be available to help you pay for your project. You can order native seeds through the Scott SWCD‘s Natural Shoreline Restoration Program. There are several types of seed mixes available to choose from. Many local native plant nurseries sell native shoreline seed mixes as well.
Learn how to protect your shoreline:
- View a past shoreline workshop on the Scott SWCD’s YouTube page.
- The DNR’s Restore Your Shore website provides information and guidance on how to restore your shoreline. The site outlines several different shoreline restoration approaches and includes native plant information, such as their native plant encyclopedia.
Many desirable plant species exist in our lakes, providing benefits including: habitat for wildlife, soil stabilization, absorption of undesirable nutrients, shade to keep the water cool and water clarity.
Aquatic plant management consists of balancing different needs. While many water users prefer lakes free of vegetation, these plants play a vital role in the lake ecosystem and can even benefit recreation.
However, some plants are not desirable. Plants that should be removed include those not originally from this area (non-native), those which out-compete native plants (invasive), and those which have been designated by a Federal, State or county government as harmful to public health, agriculture, recreation, wildlife, or property (noxious). Non-native plants found in the District include:
- Curlyleaf Pondweed (non-native, invasive)
- Eurasian Watermilfoil (non-native, invasive)
- Purple Loosestrife (non-native, invasive, noxious)
No matter how close to shore, aquatic plants growing in public waters are owned by the State, which enforces strict regulations on vegetation removal, even for non-native and invasive species. Before attempting to control or remove any aquatic plants, contact your local Minnesota Department of Natural Resources office at (952) 496-4141. DNR staff can help identify plants, guide you through restrictions and assist in identifying whether a permit will be required.
Eradicating all aquatic plants is neither practical nor wise, but by taking informed action against problematic plant species, lake users can enjoy the lakes they desire and maintain a healthy ecosystem.
- Minnesota Department of Natural Resources:
- DNR aquatic plant regulations and approved herbicides.
- List of vendors which offer treatment options such as hand or mechanical pulling, cutting, raking, or herbicide application. PLSLWD does not endorse any vendors.
- Minnesota DNR Invasive Aquatic Plants page: Aquatic plants listed as invasive in Minnesota
- Fact Sheet: Aquatic Plants and Lake Water Quality
- Reference Guide: Aquatic Plants Quick Identification Guide
Classes on shorelines and rain gardens available held with our partner, the Scott Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD) and locally through the Blue Thumb Program. View a past shoreline workshop from the Scott SWCD on their YouTube page here.
You may also wish to take a shoreland management class from the University of Minnesota Extension Service, or read their tips for shoreland management. The Shoreline Living publication from the Midwest Glacial Lakes Partnership provides ideas here for incorporating lake-friendly design into your landscaping.
Grants and free technical project design assistance may be available for your project through PLSLWD and the Scott SWCD. Contact the Scott SWCD at 952-492-5425 for more information and help planning your project. The Blue Thumb Program also provides information on plant selection, DIY designs and local sources of native plants for shoreline stabilization.