The preferred methods of shoreline stabilization are those that restore or mimic natural stabilization methods, such as planting vegetation and "bioengineering", using live plant materials and natural structural materials such as brush bundles and coconut fiber. The structural materials provide protection while the vegetation is establishing, but are generally designed to biodegrade over a period of years. Vegetation used for these types of projects have large, deep root systems that hold the soil in place, and typically also include some plantings in the water to absorb wave action.
- Long term solution
- Low cost and lower long-term maintenance cost than traditional methods
- Low maintenance of live plants after they are established
- Improved wildlife habitat
- Improved water quality
Links to more information about alternative stabilization methods are found on the Shoreline Stabilization Links page.
Bulkheads were a common method of stabilization in the past. However, bulkheads have multiple negative impacts, including:
- Turning the natural gradual slope into deeper water all the way to the face of the bulkhead (like a swimming pool or bathtub). The shallow water over a gradual slope provides a place where tiny fish and other aquatic animals can go to escape predators
- Eliminating natural vegetation that stabilizes the lake bottom sediment and provides food and shelter for fish and wildlife
- Reflecting wave energy onto adjacent shorelines, exacerbating erosion there
- All hard stabilization eventually gets undermined and needs to be replaced
For these reasons, bulkheads are highly regulated by multiple agencies, and require submittal of a report by a professional that the bulkhead is the least impacting method of stabilization that will work for the project.