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The Importance of Restoring Minnesota Shorelines with Native Plants

With Minnesota being known as the land of 10,000 lakes (actually, depending on who you believe, it could be over 21,000), there is quite a bit of shoreline out there. And that doesn’t even count the rivers. Some of that shoreline is government-owned or public access, while other footage is part of property occupied by lake homes and seasonal cabins. But no matter who owns the property or what it’s designated for, shoreline needs to be maintained. Restoration with native landscaping is a good place to start.

Without the right vegetation providing a buffer zone between the water and the land, shorelines eventually degrade. Beaches along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts are shrinking as waves wash the sand away and move it offshore. The beaches narrow and the elevation decreases, compounding the problem. And vital habitat for wildlife disappears.

Now, we have no ocean coasts in Minnesota, but the same thing can happen on lakes and rivers. The effects of sand being moved offshore can create mid-river sand bars and clog otherwise free-flowing channels. And with nothing to stand between the water movement and land, more and more of the shoreline footage will slip underwater. Strong currents and boat wash can even destroy vegetation along the edge of the shoreline, especially if it’s just turf grass.

But landscaping with native plants can provide a natural, permanent way to control erosion along shorelines. In fact, Conservation Minnesota recommends that about 75% of shoreline should contain native plants and shrubs.

We’re proud to have partnered with both private landowners and government entities on a number of shoreline restoration projects.  Click here to see just a sample.

Some of the benefits of restoring shoreline with native vegetation includes:

  • Erosion control
  • Improved water quality as well as enhanced natural appearance
  • Habitat for wildife, especially waterfowl and shore birds
  • Shade that can cool the temperature at the water’s edge, creating a more fish-friendly aquatic habitat
  • Improving soil permeability at the water’s edge so that water flowing the sloping edge seeps into the ground rather than washing into the lake or river
  • Reducing the need for maintenance
  • Discouraging nuisance animals and birds (like Canada geese)

If you have shoreline property and you’re interested in converting it to a more natural, easier-to-care-for state, you may be pleased to know that in most cases there are grants available to help you do just that. We can work on your behalf with the Minnesota DNR or other entities. To find out more, please contact us via our online request form or call us at 1-800-837-5986.

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