Erosion along shorelines can be caused by natural events (wind, water, and ice) or human activities. Although, human disturbances cause more rapid and far worse impacts to shorelines than natural events. According to a University of Michigan study, we cause 10 times more soil erosion than all natural processes combined. The removal of shoreline vegetation, heavy foot traffic, boat wakes, and construc-tion are examples of human activities that cause erosion. Erosion can reduce water quality (increased turbidity and nutrients), cause algal blooms and fish kills, and if severe enough can cause large land loss.

Things You Can do to Prevent Erosion:

  • Protect the Shoreline with a Buffer
    Plant roots (especially native plants) anchor and stabilize the soil, reduce and slow runoff and reduce wave action energy | Riprap (angular rock) retaining walls prevent erosion by reducing wave energy
  • Reduce Runoff
    Keep paved / hard surfaces (decks and driveways) to a minimum | Use rain barrels and settling areas to reduce runoff coming from driveways and roofs
  • Minimize Boat Wakes
    Slow down when close to shore | Utilize deeper parts of the lake for sporting and high speeds
  • Take Construction Precautions
    Use silt fences, control mats, and hay bales to help control erosion | Cover exposed soil piles with tarps | Disturb as little of an area as possible | Avoid construction during wet months
  • Limit Foot Traffic
    Create a dedicated footpath | Avoid pathways that are in a straight line | Build curved / S-pattern pathways

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More About Riparian Area

Riparian areas are where terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems meet. These areas are found along lake shores, wetlands, and stream banks. They produce varieties of water-tolerant trees, shrubs and grasses. Riparian areas are critical in maintaining balance and water quality of a waterbody since they trap sediment, filter water, reduce erosion and flood risk, and maintain biodiversity.

Healthy shorelines are critical in keeping our lakes clean and healthy. Healthy shorelines rich in native plants provide many benefits and functions.
5 Key Benefits of a Healthy Shoreline

  1. Maintains Good Water Quality by filtering polluted runoff before it enters the water, reducing over-abundant algal blooms
  2. Reduces Flood Risk by slowing the velocity of surface runoff before it enters the water
  3. Creates Wildlife Habitat by providing food and shelter for land and aquatic organisms
  4. Reduces Erosion by plants immense underground root networks that hold soil in place
  5. Maintains / increases Property Values by reducing negative impacts that can hinder a property’s aesthetic appeal and recreational opportunity

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Impacts of Boat Wakes

Lake users receive a great deal of enjoyment from various recreational boating activities. Over the last 40 years the use of motorized recreational water-crafts have increased significantly. The recreational activities we do on the water can have many impacts on lake health. If we adapt our recreational activities to include good lake stewardship we can minimize our impacts and help preserve habitat for future generations.

Boat Wakes Can:

  • Drown bird nests and their young
  • Cause shoreline erosion and can even cause banks to collapse
  • In shallow waters, boat wake and boat propeller wash can disturb sediment on the lake bottom and release nutrients, which can result in increased plant growth, algal blooms, and fish kills
  • Cause damage to boats that are secured to docks and boat docking and mooring hardware
  • Cause inexperienced swimmers and children to get overturned
  • Passengers of neighboring boats can lose their balance and can even be thrown overboard

5 Ways You can be Wake Wise:

  1. Be aware of your wake size during displacement, transition, and planning speeds
  2. Look behind you to see and understand the impact your boat wake has on shorelines, swimmers, and docks and adjust your speed and direction as necessary
  3. Reduce your speed below 10km/h when you are within 30m of the shore
  4. Utilize deeper parts of the lake for sporting and high speeds
  5. When purchasing a new boat consider the size of wake the boat will produce

Download the poster here.