HABITAT RESTORATION - SHORELINE | RIPARIAN ZONES
Shorelines and riparian areas (the zone along rivers and streams) have special importance to the protection of water quality, which is why the Washington Conservation District has prioritized them for assistance, and communities require permits for alterations to them.
A thriving plant and animal community on the lake edge contributes to good water quality. The deep roots of native vegetation (whether grasses, wildflowers or trees) all help stabilize the soil against the action of the waves or current. When soil particles erode into the lake or stream, they carry with them unwanted nutrients, which can degrade the water quality (explained more thoroughly on our lakes & streams page.) Therefore, we work with landowners to restore or preserve native plant communities, often in partnership with other agencies such as local watershed districts. Depending on the specific water resource, there may be financial assistance available to restore the shoreline, as described on the financial assistance page.
In addition to restoring buffer zones, the WCD encourages restoration of emergent vegetation such as bulrushes and lily pads, for their ability to filter out sediment and absorb nutrients, and lessen the force of waves and current. We also encourage planting of trees or shrubs, to shade the water and moderate its temperature. In most parts of the county, removing trees or any earthwork (grading) require permits.
Wildlife depends on both live and dead plants for habitat, so leaving dead trees and branches in the water or the buffer zone provides cover and resting places for many animal species. As the plant material decays, the insects that feed on the decaying vegetation become food for other wildlife, like fish and birds.
For more information on shoreline restoration:
Wildlife depend on both live and dead plants for habitat.