With someone that is in tune with nature, it becomes so obvious. If you want to go to amazing and inspiring places, and find a hotbed of biological activity, you simply search out areas where land meets water – the shore!
Unfortunately, in urban lake systems, shorelines get assaulted in a wide variety of ways. Impervious surfaces in urban watersheds cause lake levels to “bounce” – having high highs and low lows. Flood waters cause erosion along the shore. Increases nutrient levels in storm water runoff favor invasive species, like reed canary grass. On top of this, humans have traditionally liked tidy shores – turf up to the water, imported rock to curb erosion, sea walls to create a clean, engineered edge. The list goes on and on.
|A photo of the shoreline pre-project, |
showing pockets of turf to the water
and several patches of invasive
species that colonized over the years.
One shore that we had the opportunity to work on was the Lennon Property. ￼
|Biologs were used as a way to |
reduce wave action, so that native
shoreline species could get established.
|We selected native species that |
spread via underground runners
(rhyzomes). Here, species are
working their way into the biolog. ￼
On the Lennon Property, we had to factor in that urban “bounce”, wave action from wind and high speed power boats, soils, slope, shade, and even muskrat activity. After compiling our species list, we then figured out what bio-engineering materials we would use, materials like erosion control blankets and bio-logs (coconut rolls).
|Over 2000 native plant plugs were |
installed in the buffer. This gave us the
ability to create large patches of
individual species. This was a look
that the homeowner desired. ￼
With the plan finalized, we then began our site preparation work. Like many lakeshore properties in metropolitan areas, access to shorelines is often a challenge. Much of the work carried out is done the old fashioned way – by hard physical labor. On the Lennon Property, re-grading and invasive species control was done by hand. ￼
|The Lennons chose to go with a 25’ wide native plant buffer – yes! ￼|
|Many shoreline and prairie species flowered the second year after installation.|
As with any ecological restoration in an urban setting, long-term maintenance is essential. With shore restorations, weed seed can infiltrate via wind and waves. For instance, reed canary grass seed floats, and a windy day in late June may result in this weed seed surfing from one side of the lake to the other. Our maintenance and monitoring of the Lennon property is $650 per year, which includes spring clean-up, and 3 visits during the growing season.
As we all know, urban ecological restoration presents a host of challenges, but we are seeing progress along our shores. More and more cost-share opportunities are becoming available through various units of government. And slowly, shore residents are becoming familiar with ecological restoration as a way to manage their properties.
Bill Bartodziej and Rob Langer are Ecological Restoration Specialists, and own Natural Shore.
For more information on their company, please visit: www.naturalshore.com.