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Shoreline Buffers – A Matter of Balance

Development causes increases in water runoff from the land into wetlands, ponds, and streams.  This runoff transports water, sediments, nutrients and other pollutants into our waterways that can lead to a number of problems, including unsightly and/or toxic algae blooms; excessive aquatic plant growth; increased turbidity; damage to our fisheries; and loss of habitat.


Shoreline buffers are one of the most effective tools available for defending our waterways.  Shoreline buffers can be best thought of as forming a living, self-sustainable protective shield.  Combined with storm water management, environmentally friendly yard care, effective wastewater treatment, conservation farming methods, and appropriate use of fertilizers, shoreline buffers complete the set of actions we can take to minimize impact to our waterways.  Although neatly trimmed grass lawns along shorelines are popular, these offer limited benefits as shoreline buffers.  A single lawn alongside a body of water may not seem like much but the cumulative effects of many lawns can negatively impact our lakes and rivers.


Shoreline buffers can take many forms, which require a balancing act between lake viewing, access, and scenic beauty.  Shoreline buffers can be integrated into a landscaping design that complements both the structural development and a lakeside lifestyle using attractive native plants.  Installing a shoreline buffer on even a small section of your shoreline has a positive impact by forming your own “protective shield” while also creating a natural habitat for native species such as frogs, butterflies, etc., and limiting shoreline erosion.


If you are interested in learning more about shoreline buffers, email us at  There are a lot of options, including rain gardens and rain barrels, and inexpensive do-it-yourself landscaping.

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