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Fish sticks, buffer zones, and natural shorelines all combat the negative effects of seawalls
July 19, 2023
Now that summer is in full swing, lakefront property owners may want to consider combatting the negative impacts of shoreline hardening – such as seawalls or vertical walls made with large rocks.
Bioengineering project being installed as part of the Michigan Natural Shoreline Partnership Certified Natural Shoreline Professional Training.
“There are many techniques that can be done at the homeowner scale, even on really developed inland lakes with lots of seawalls,” notes Eric Calabro, the Inland Lakes policy analyst for the Wetlands, Lakes, and Streams Program of the Water Resources Division at the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE). “And people are definitely pursuing this, as I’ve seen an increase in native plants and bioengineering projects over the past six years.”
EGLE encourages three things, in particular:
- Planting buffer zones above existing seawalls or in areas that provide a clear and direct benefit to the inland lake.
- Installing shoreline woody structures such as “fish sticks,” as illustrated in an EGLE presentation on woody habitats in lakes for fish and more. It highlights three designs: fish stick clusters, the single fish stick series, and the turtle log series.
- Reducing the length of the vertical wall and installing bioengineering or a natural shoreline in its place.
Single fish stick series on Crockery Lake shoreline in Ottawa County.
Calabro notes that seawall replacement projects are now required to use best management practices to meet the criteria for the Minor Project Category (page 41) for shoreline protection projects that avoid and minimizeadverse impacts.
EGLE’s story map on bioengineered shoreline protection projects on inland lakes also provides information.