Help for Shoreland Owners
The SWCD may be able to provide technical assistance to make recommendations for or to design a project to reduce shoreland erosion on your property. We may also have funding available to assist with the costs of installing a project.
If you are looking for Aquatic Invasive Species information please look in our "Education & Outreach" section.
As lakeshore continues to be developed, many lakes throughout the county will have had their native vegetation removed and replaced with manicured lawns. Traditional lawns, while not particularly harmful, have few of the benefits of a natural shoreline. Lawns are shallow rooted, provide little wildlife habitat, need frequent maintenance and are often over-fertilized. These factors can lead to problems on your lakes such as:
- Shoreline erosion and lake sedimentations.
- Algae blooms and excessive aquatic plant growth.
- Loss of wildlife habitat, but an increase in nuisance animals.
What is the solution? Install a native shoreland buffer!
A shoreland buffer is an area of native vegetation extending from the waters edge back at least 15 feet landward. The easiest way to create a lakeshore buffer is to simply not mow. You can also create a buffer by purchasing and planting native grasses, wildflowers and woody vegetation from a nursery that sells plants native to Minnesota. Native plants are used because they have deep roots and are naturally suited to the environment.
Advantages of Installing Native Shoreland Buffer
- Decrease the amount of water and time mowing for landscape maintenance
- Add beauty to the landscape and preserve our natural heritage
- Enjoy abundant nature: flowers, shrubs, trees, aquatic plants, fish, insects, and birds
- Filter out pollutants and runoff that degrades water quality
- Prevent shoreline erosion by absorbing wave action
- Provides habitat for a wide variety of wildlife
- Who has regulatory authority in the Shoreland Zone? It depends where you live. Click here for guidance.
- Want to know what plants work well in a shoreline buffer? Here is a handout of native plants in Isanti county.
- Information sheets discussing common shoreline alteration projects such as beach sand blanket and rip-rap can be found on the Blue thumb website. Blue Thumb is a public/private partnership that makes it easy for you to plan, purchase and plant lakeshore restorations! Check out their website! http://www.blue-thumb.org/
If you are interested in a lake shoreline erosion/stabilization project please contact: Conservation Technician Todd Kulaf at 763-689-3271 or
Rivers and streams are not fixed landscape features. Over time their banks shift and move throughout a wider area called a floodplain which results in a natural level of erosion.
Erosion along a streambank can also be the result of human land use impacts (i.e. vegetation clearing, cropland, infrastructure…). Human activity along a stream or river can impact the natural buffer zone which can in turn increase the susceptibility of erosion. If the riparian area of a stream has been compromised, erosion can occur unchecked at unnatural levels resulting in loss of property an decreased water quality that negatively affects aquatic animals such as fish.
What can I do if my streambank/river banks are eroding?
Determining what is causing erosion is the first step in addressing the concern. If the erosion is caused by multiple upstream sources there is often little that a landowner can do to protect a streamside home other than extremely expense and often only temporary fixes. If the erosion is due to localized human activity such as clearing vegetation for cropland or a view, restoration efforts can often mitigate the erosion issue and restore the natural function of the shoreland areas. The function of shoreland areas includes bank stabilization, water quality protection, and fish and wildlife habitat.
Cedar trees staked in place to stabilize the riverbank.
Riverbank stabilization often combines the use of bio-engineering with softer vegetative practices to create buffer zones along the waterway. The general concept relies upon restoring strong rooted, woody vegetation. Woody vegetation protects streambanks in several ways:
- Root systems help hold the soil particles together increasing bank stability
- Vegetation creates a rougher surface that can dissipate energy
- Woody vegetation on streambanks can induce sediment deposition and build banks
- Unlike rock, which transfers stream energy downstream, dense woody vegetation dampens the force and reduces downstream erosion
A variety of practices can be used to stabilize and eroding streambank including but not limited to:
- Cedar Tree Revetments: Information Sheet
- Live staking: https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/rys/st/wattles.html
- Toe-wood Sod Mats: Stream Restoration: Toe Wood-Sod Mat
Click here to see our Completed Projects page for examples of Cedar Tree Revetments that were completed in 2018. If you are interested in a riverbank/streambank stabilization project please contact Tiffany Determan -