Where the Water Meets the Land: The Importance of Shoreland Restoration
A thriving plant and animal community along the water's edge contributes to the overall health of the lake ecosystem. Native plant communities in the water and on the shoreline filter rainwater and melting snow that drain into the lake for the surrounding watershed. When that water contains pollutants, the vegetation helps purify it.
For people living along relatively undisturbed shorelines, enjoying the native plants and wildlife of a lake with clean water is a daily reward for good land stewardship. Unfortunately, lawns mowed all the way to the water's edges with no aquatic vegetation are all too often the norm. Landscaping shoreland lots to achieve this ideal has led to a serious loss of natural shoreland habitat and deteriorating quality on thousand of lakes.
Many shoreland property owners now realize that fish populations declining. They see fewer Belted Kingfishers, frogs, and wading birds along the shore. They complain about Canada Geese and muskrats as nuisances. They see more bank erosion, more shoreline heaving, huge trees along the shoreline starting to lean towards their house, and generally less and less of what attracted them to their shoreland property originally. They spend more time mowing their lawn, painting their shutters, and fighting nature, than they spend fishing. They have unknowingly created a shoreland environment that is ecologically dysfunctional.
Happily, there is an easy solution to this complicated and disheartening problem. Through establishing a natural vegetation buffer zone around the lake we can combat these issues. A buffer zone is a natural strip of vegetation along at least 75% of a property's frontage that extends 50 feet onto the land. These buffers include native trees, shrubs, wildflowers, ferns, shoreline plants, vines, sedges, grasses, and emergent and submersed aquatic vegetation. With a buffer zone, the shoreland once again becomes re-established to its natural settings and regains its true value
Creating a Shorline Restoration Plan
While restoring your shore some of the most important things to consider are soil type, soil moisture, sun exposure, and the slope of the land. Natural factors WILL dictate what grows on your property, taking that into account is important for a successful restoration. By clicking on the link below you can create a Shoreland Restoration Plan that suits the unique attributes of your property.
Finding Native Plants
There are many wonderful native species of trees, shrubs, wildflowers, ferns, shoreline plants, vines, grasses, sedges, and emergent and submersed aquatic vegetation that are available for the public to buy. To alleviate the headaches associated with finding nurseries and greenhouses that sell the native plants that you are looking for, we have created a listing of growers that sell native plants. Calling ahead and ordering earlier in the year are recommended. Furthermore, it is important to prepare you site for planting before you purchase the plants.
Detailed instructions for the installation of plants and seeds can be obtained from the nursery where the plants are purchased, but a few important points are worth mentioning to help you establish shoreland plants successfully. For more information on planting tips, click on the link below.
Site Preparation and Maintenance
Eliminating Invasive Weeds:
The essential first step in establishing native plantings is to eliminate competition from lawn grasses, sod, and weeds. There are several ways to remove invasive plants. Pulling them out by hand and removing the root system is the best way to handle problem plants on your property. Using chemicals is another way but is not suggested. If the wrong chemicals are used it could kill off native plants or could even runoff into the lake and cause water quality issues. If you use chemicals make sure they are applied correctly and are safe for the lake ecosystem. The links below will direct you to lists of common terrestrial and aquatic invasive plants that may be a nuisance around your lake property.
Beyond eliminating lawn grasses, sod, and invasive plants, soil preparation may be required for the installation of live native plants. The incorporation of soil amendments such as black dirt, peat moss, and fertilizer may not be necessary but could increase the overall success of establishing your plants. Be careful not to use more amendments than what is needed. Enriching the soil to much with nutrients can actually be detrimental to the plants. Also the nutrients in these amendments can runoff into the water and thereby cause future problems. We recommend using natural amendments such as compost or peat most for planting along the shore.
The prevention of soil erosion in order to protect water quality is a prime benefit of re-vegetating shorelands with native plants. Mulch not only prevents soil erosion, but also benefits the plantings by controlling weeds and holding moisture in the soil. Place mulch all throughout your planting beds but make sure to leave small shape around each planted tree or shrub. We recommend a 1 ½ inch space around each tree or shrub planted so that the root roller doesn’t get suffocated.
Supplemental Plantings and Maintenance:
Inevitably, in any planting, a few plants will not live through the first year. It is important to replant as quickly as possible if plants die off so erosion doesn’t take place in the bare location. Use this as an opportunity to plant more of the native species that were especially successful, or use it as a chance to try a few new ones. A continuous vegetative cover is the goal.
Why Plant Natural Species?
It is important for shoreland property owners to understand why their shoreland restoration has to be done with all native plants. One of the most important things to consider is the fact that our native shoreland plants have evolved in Wisconsin, and therefore or more hearty than exotic species of plants that evolved elsewhere. Another reason that the plantings have to be native is because certain species of exotic plants can be very invasive. When an invasive plant is introduced into an ecosystem, it can dominate native plants to the point where it kills them all off. Wisconsin evolved with the native plants, and therefore are dependent upon them.
Attracting and Maintaining Wildlife
Habitat created by aquatic plants provides food and shelter for both fry and predatory fish. Invertebrates living on or beneath plants are a primary food source for pan fish. Bass and bluegills use shallow plant beds for spawning. Northern pike also seek shoreline vegetation for spawning and hunting.
To learn more information about planting emergent and submerged aquatic plants please contact your local DNR aquatics specialist. They will be able to offer guidance for plantings and techniques to maintain a healthy plant transition from land to water. Click on the link below for more plants that attract wildlife.
Restoring Your Shore for Birds & Butterflies:
One of the wonderful benefits of restoring shoreline habitat is attracting all of the birds and butterflies. To create an environment friendly to birds on your shoreland property, you are going to have to understand a certain amount about their lifecycles. Butterflies are even more particular then birds are. In many species of butterflies, the larva requires a far different plants then do the adults. Therefore, to create an environment friendly to a certain species of butterfly, the proper plant foods must be available for all stage of life.
If you would like to create your Shoreland Restoration Plan around either your favorite species of bird, butterfly, or both, simply click on the appropriate link below. This will bring you to a listing of the majority of birds and butterflies in Langlade County. This listing will tell you everything about the lifecycle of your favorite bird or butterfly, and more importantly, what should be planting on your shoreland property to create appropriate habitat for them.
Controlling Deer Browse
White-tailed deer may try to eat your shoreland restoration out of house and home. If deer are a nuisance animal in your shoreland lot then we suggest planting species of native trees, shrubs, wildflowers, ferns, vines, grasses, and sedges that White-tailed deer find unpalatable.
Langlade County Demostration Sites
Throughout the Langlade County there are four public sites along certain lakes and rivers where anyone can visit to see for themselves a restored buffer. These demonstration sites are filled with native trees, shrubs, grasses and many other elements which make up a healthy shoreland buffer. Please visit these sites if you are unaware on how a finished restoration could look like. Click on the link after the pictures for the locations of site.
Post Lake Dam
Before and After
Before and After
Highway C & 45
Before and After
Old Langlade Ranger Station
Before and After
The Langlade County Land Records and Regulations Department encourages you to email your comments on what worked on your shoreland restoration site and what did or did not work. It will be an invaluable tool for future property owners who have to restore their shoreline. If you have any questions for comments relating the shoreland feel free to contact Langlade County’s Shoreland Protection Specialist at the Department of Land Records and Regulations. (715) 627-6206.
The University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point
Dr. Robert W. Freckmann, Dr. Emmit J. Judziewicz, and all of the past, present, and future students of Vascular Plant Taxonomy,
Aquatic Vascular Plant Taxonomy, and Plant Physiology.
Hanson's Garden Village and Nursery
2660 County Hwy. G
Rhinelander, WI 54501
The Prairie Nursery
PO Box 306
Westfield, Wisconsin, 53964
J & J Tranzplant Aquatic Nursery
PO Box 227
Wild Rose, Wisconsin 54984-0227
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
Lakescaping for Wildlife and Water Quality
Minnesota DNR Non-game Wildlife Program
Attracting Butterflies and Hummingbirds to
Sally Roth: A Rodale Organic Gardening Book
Smithsonian Birds of North America
Fred J. Alsop III: DK Publishing
Through the Looking Glass: A Field Guide to
Susan Borman, Robert Korth, Jo Temte
DNR Publication #FH-207-97
The Aldo Leopold Foundation
Plant Identification Terminology: An
James G. Harris & Melinda Woolf Harris
Spring Lake Publishing
The Essential Aldo Leopold: Quotations and
Edited by Curt Meine & Richard L. Knight
University of Wisconsin Press
Burton V Barnes & Warren H. Wagner Jr.
The University of Michigan Press
Jung's Seed Company
Canoe Country Flora: Plants and Trees of the
North Woods and Boundary Waters
Mark Stensaas & Jeff Sonstegard
Although the Langlade County Land Records and Regulations Department (LRRD) makes every attempt to ensure that the information contained in its databases is correct, it assumes no responsibility for inaccuracies or omissions in these data sets. Neither the LRRD nor any of its employees shall be held liable for any improper or incorrect use of the information described and/or contained herein and assumes no responsibility for anyone's uses of the information. The LRRD will not be held responsible for any consequence of the use or misuse of these data by any individual or organization. Changes may be periodically made to the information herein; these changes may or may not be incorporated in any new version of the publications.