Stream Bank, Shoreline Protection & Shoreline Habitat Restoration

Streambank & Shoreline Protection

Where stream banks are eroded, they are re-shaped and seeded, and sometimes protected with rock rip-rap or seeded with bio-engineering materials. In some cases a special wood structure (lunker) is fitted into the bank to stabilize it and provide fish habitat. Stabilizing the stream bank or shoreline protects water quality, improves fish habitat, and the vegetation provides habitat for birds and small animals. Fencing restricts livestock access to the bank or shore, with the exception of controlled areas for drinking or crossing.

Vegetation, rock, or structures used to stabilize and protect the banks of streams, lakes, estuaries or excavated channels against scour and erosion and reduce sediment delivery to the water body.

Best Management Practices for Shoreline Protection

Buffer Zones

  • Limit mowing within 35 feet of water, especially within 10 feet

  • Acts as 'filter strip' so soil and nutrients do not flow into the lake

  • Reduces erosion from wave action by keeping roots in tact deep into soil

  • Helps infiltrate rainfall to reduce ponding

  • Less inviting for geese to walk on shore

Recommended shrubs to use between the water level and ordinary high water mark:

These trees and shrubs tolerate soils that are consistently moist, seasonal flooding and exposure to energy from waves and ice. They grow well in the area between the water level and ordinary high water mark.

  1. Dogwood - Red Osier**, Silky

  2. Buttonbush

  3. Bog Birch

  4. Swamp Rose

  5. Sandbar Willow

  6. Black Willow



Limit Fertilizer Use

  • Many lawns are over-fertilized

  • Excess nutrients runoff into lake and create ideal habitat for algae and plant growth

Recommended trees to use above ordinary high water mark:

These trees and shrubs tolerate soils that are consistently moist, but are less likely to flood. They do not like continuous stress resulting from waves and ice.

  1. Winterberry

  2. Common Ninebark

  3. Red Maple**

  4. Black Chokeberry

  5. Yellow Birch

  6. Hackberry

  7. Honeylocust

  8. Swamp White Oak

  9. American Elderberry

  10. Arrowwood

  11. Nannyberry



Implement Rip Rap

  • Reduces erosion from wave action

Recommended trees and shrubs to use upland:

This planting area is further away from the ordinary high water mark and prefers well-drained soils.

  1. Maples - Red**, Silver, Sugar**

  2. Birch - Paper**, River

  3. Balsam Fir**

  4. Spruce - White**, Black

  5. Eastern White Pine

  6. Northern White Cedar**

  7. Dogwood - Gray, Red-Osier**, Alternate-Leaf

  8. American Hazelnut**

  9. Serviceberry

  10. Winterberry

  11. Chokecherry

  12. Cranberry Highbush**

  13. Shrubby Cinquefoil

  14. New Jersey Tea

  15. Eastern Redbud

  16. Diervilla

  17. Ironwood

  18. American Elder

  19. Red-Berried Elder



Rain Garden

  • Helps with storm water runoff and infiltration

  • Plants take up the water and nutrients

Let Trees Grow

  • Shade on the shallow water to keep it cool and help moderate weather extremes such as hot sun or strong winds

  • Roots keep soil in tact - preventing erosion, by trapping and using water that would otherwise run off

  • Roots increase soil porosity, allowing water to infiltrate rather than run off

  • Improves aesthetics

  • Vegetation filters out nutrients and pesticides that could otherwise reach a lake or stream and cause algal blooms or excessive plant growth

  • Creates wildlife habitat

  • Improves air quality

  • Provides privacy for humans by screening adjacent property


  • Adapted to the local climate

  • Usually has a strong, well-established root systems. These root systems provide better erosion control, water-cleaning capacity and stability for plants.

  • Offer more typical habitat for wildlife

  • More resistant to pests and disease


  1. Rake dead leaves and brush away from the water. Compost vegetation in a sturdy structure away from the shoreline.

  2. Never dump leaves or vegetation debris into lake or stream because this releases nutrients and organic acids into the water.

  3. Avoid burning on the beach or near shore because the remaining ash is highly alkaline and may change the pH of the lake and promote growth of undesirable plants.

  4. Use lake water for irrigating trees, shrubs and lawns. Lake water usually can supply the nutrients to your "near-shore vegetation" needs to promote healthy growth.


Petenwell Lake Shoreline



Castle Rock Lake Campground Shoreline



Quincy Town Shoreline



To view many other examples from other counties visit this website:

Bio Logs Erosion Control

Bio log erosion control is an effective method to stabilize shorelines, reinforce slopes, control erosion, or act as a check dam to control silt.

Designed as an environmentally-friendly product, these biodegradable coir logs have an exterior manufactured with a bristle coir twine net and an interior packed with enriching coconut fiber. Designed to enhance the environment they're placed in, coir logs are photodegradable, or easily decomposed by sunlight. As they biodegrade, the nutrient-rich fibers strengthen the existing bank and encourage the area to establish deep root growth.

Features of Erosion Control Logs:

  • High tensile strength, which protects vulnerable steep surfaces from the constant pressure of heavy water flows

  • Allows for full plant and soil establishment, natural invasion, and slope stabilization

  • Provides an excellent climate for soil, acting as mulch on the surface and as a wick on the soil mantle

  • Safe for surrounding wildlife


  • Stabilization of Riverbanks and Streams

  • Controlling sediment on Shores and Slopes

  • Check Dams

Shoreline Habitat Restoration

What's involved in a Shoreline Habitat??

Aquatic Plants:

Aquatic plants are part of a healthy lake. They produce oxygen, provide food and help to stabilize shoreline and bottom sediments. Aquatic plants provide habitat for fish and other aquatic life. By holding sediments in place it improves water clarity.


Insects and other invertebrates live on or near aquatic plants, and become food for fish, birds, amphibians and other wildlife.

Plants and Algae:

Plants and algae are the base of the food chain. Lakes with a healthy fishery have a moderate density of aquatic plants.

Trees & Shrubs:

Trees and shrubs prevent erosion and provide habitat.


Roots and stones absorb wave energy and reduce scouring of the lake bottom.

Predator and Prey:

Predator-fish such as pike, hide among plants, rocks, and tree roots to sneak up on their prey. Prey-fish such as minnows and small sunfish use aquatic plants to hide from predators.