Need ideas for keeping lakes and shorelines natural? Here’s a great resource.

If you’re wondering how to create or maintain a natural shoreline for your lake’s protection, you now have a single repository for finding answers. Patrick Goggin, a natural landscape expert and a lake specialist with the University of Wisconsin Extension Lakes, compiled this excellent electronic document, “Building a natural shoreline from the ground up.”

For years, universities, county governments, state natural resource agencies and others have created materials that tell how to develop shorelines to protect the lake against runoff of nutrients and pollutants, while enhancing wildlife habitat and preserving the scenic values of the Northwoods.

As you’ll see when you look through Goggin’s collection, the number and diversity of sources is impressive. No matter what information you’re seeking, there is a great chance you’ll find it in this 13-page compilation. You’ll find links to an impressive variety of material, including brochures, booklets, slide presentations, webinars, videos, educational books for kids, books on lakes and lakeshore life for adults, and more.

The sources for this collection are by no means limited to the Northwoods. The issues around lake stewardship are pretty much universal, and the works of organizations from a number of states are presented here.  The collection is helpfully broken down into sections that include background information on the connection between natural shorelines, water quality and lake health; advice on landscaping at the water’s edge; designing shoreland restoration projects; natural ways to limit shoreline erosion; and the importance of wood in the water for fish habitay, and several others.

Here are just a few items in the compilation that I consider highlights;

  • “The Water’s Edge,” a brochure from the UW-Madison Extension, provides a superb and easily understandable summary of the basics of natural shorelines and why they are important.
  • An entire section presents tools to help property owners assess the quality of their shorelines and discover options for improvement.
  • Several items aim to help first-time waterfront property buyers choose the lake and property that best fits their vision of lake living. This section includes information from the Vilas County Lakes and Rivers Association’s New Shoreland Owners Initiative.
  • A video from the UW-Stevens Point Center for Land Use Education clearly explains how impervious surfaces on lake property – roofs, driveways, walkways – affect fish, wildlife and lake ecosystems.
  • In case you’re having trouble locating native plants for a shoreland planting project, a section includes directories to nurseries, contractors and consultants who can help.
  • A section provides examples of local lake organization best practice campaigns and recognition program that challenge and encourage property owners to become better lake stewards.

It’s worthwhile to set aside time to peruse this collection. You’re likely to find answers to your questions and discover new insights on being a good steward of your property, your lake, and our area’s water resources.