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  • Jodi Eberhardt

What is a shoreland buffer zone?

A buffer zone is an unmowed strip of native vegetation that

extends both lakeward and landward from the water’s

edge. A buffer zone of native plants that extends 25-50

feet landward from the shore is preferable, but even

adding a buffer as narrow as 10-15 feet can restore many

functions critical to the health of the lake that may have

been eliminated previously by sod, hard structures, or

mowing. When it comes to shoreland buffers, wider is

better for more benefits.

A shoreland buffer zone consists of:

• The shallow aquatic zone of the emergent, submerged,

and floating leaf aquatic plants that provide

food and shelter for ducks, songbirds, frogs and other

amphibians, and fish. The taller plants, like bulrush,

sedges, and cattails can reduce the energy of wave

action to minimize erosion and help maintain water


• The wetland transition zone of more water-loving

plants that bind the lake bed to the upland soils.

• The upland zone of native trees, shrubs, grasses, and

wildflowers slows rainwater running over-land, making

sediment drop out, absorbing water and nutrients, and

breaking down pollutants.

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