Why and how to restore your shoreland

What is shoreland restoration?

Why and how to restore your shoreland

By Jim Brakken, Shoreland Restoration Consultant

What is shoreland restoration?

Simply put, shoreland restoration means replacing a developed waterfront, such as a lawn, with native plants. Done correctly, this creates a buffer zone to protect the surface water from polluting runoff. It also beautifies the property as seen both from shore and from the lake. Shoreland restoration can be very low in cost yet have many benefits including the potential to greatly increase property values and your enjoyment of your waterfront.

Restore your waterfront? 6 reasons why:

First and foremost, shoreland restoration protects our lakes and streams from nutrients carried in runoff. This reduces the chance of growth of aquatic plants such as Eurasian Water Milfoil and algae. It can also increase water clarity. Shoreland restoration is good for our surface waters. That’s good for you and for the youngsters who may one day be the new caretakers of your property and the lake!

Second, shoreland restoration can increase property value as much as 7% per foot of increase in  resulting water clarity.*  That could be tens of thousands of dollars in value. This makes restoration projects very attractive from a financial standpoint. (*Based on studies done in New Hampshire, Minnesota and northern Wisconsin. See WisconsinLakes.org.)

Third, it’s easy. In fact, it is easier to maintain a natural appearing waterfront than the traditional lawn that has been ‘manicured’ right down to the lake. You will have more time to enjoy the beauty of your property as you spend less time with lawn chores.

Number four, you can earn ‘mitigation points’ for your restoration project. Some county zoning departments will often reward land owners who restore their waterfront by allowing near-shore building projects that would otherwise be illegal.

Five . . . up to 70% of the funding for your shoreland restoration project is now available. This is a great opportunity to improve your waterfront and protect your lake. There’s no better time than now to begin your project. (E-mail BayfieldCountyLakes@Yahoo.com for details.)

Finally, six, by restoring your waterfront you are setting a good example. Soon others will join in with their own restoration projects, thus beautifying the lake, decreasing the chance of  invasion by exotic aquatic species, increasing water clarity and further increasing your property values. Everybody wins, including your family, your neighbors, the birds, fish, mammals and your lake or stream. Think of this as part of your lake legacy!

sybil-brakkenRight: Sybil Brakken next to a young native willow tree planted just two summers earlier. Not many years before this photo was taken, a dozer cut the bank down, pushed the fill into the lake and left a terrible eyesore. The property is now lush with cattails, lilypads, yellow iris, lupine, pussy willow, grasses, ferns, native willows and wildflowers.  No more signs of damage from the dozer and no more damage to the lake!

“Shoreland restoration can be very expensive . . . but it doesn’t have to be.  It’s better for both the lake and the property owner to follow my ‘thrifty restoration process’ than it is to not restore at all.”

Jim Brakken