Lakeshore Stewardship Vital to Keeping Lakes Healthy

Submitted by Emily Johnson, Anoka Conservation District

Lakes are the pride and joy of Minnesotans, but the loss of their native aquatic and near shore lake vegetation as a result of increased lakeshore development is a grave threat. Both shoreline and aquatic plants are critical in maintaining a clean and healthy lake. Their loss results in severe negative consequences.

When aquatic vegetation is removed from a lake, it causes a chain reaction, resulting in murky water and loss of critical habitat for waterfowl and native fishes. Zooplankton rely on aquatic plants for food and safety. Without the refuge provided by these plants, they become easy prey for fish and their numbers dwindle. As a result, the algae normally eaten by zooplankton flourish. Algae get an extra boost from nutrients in loose sediment stirred up from the bottom of the lake. Since there’s no more roots to stabilize this sediment, it can easily be stirred up by waves and wind, creating cloudy water conditions. Native walleye and bass are driven out by undesirable fish such as carp that thrive in these dirty water conditions.

Native plant removal from lakeshores can have an equally negative impact. Native shoreline vegetation acts as a buffer, filtering polluted runoff and trapping excess nutrients before they enter the lake. Their roots hold the soil in place and prevent erosion and property loss. In addition to these water quality benefits, native plant buffers provide critical habitat for pollinators and other native wildlife, deter nuisance wildlife such as geese, and create an attractive privacy screen while leaving plenty of room for water access from a dock or beach.

Retaining or replacing natural shoreline and aquatic vegetation is critical to a lake’s health. Lakeshore owners have the power to make a difference on their shore through proper lakeshore restoration and stewardship. Doing this will improve lake water quality, which has a direct impact on property value, recreation opportunities, fisheries, and more.

To learn how to install your own lakeshore restoration project, visit:

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