Shoreline vegetation protects property and beaches from erosion

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By Staff Brunswick Beacon

There has always been a concern for runoff into our waterways. Water runoff may carry pollutants that can wreak havoc in our sensitive environmental estuaries and marshes.

Dislodged particles of soil and water soluble materials, whether they are nutrients or other chemicals, can move across the surface of even gentle slopes and be deposited into ditches or canals ultimately ending up in our water ways. Buffer strips help to filter out most pollutants and can trap sediment or other particles from entering our streams.

Living shoreline plant materials protect property from erosion and provide cover and habitat for fish, birds and other wildlife. Undisturbed natural shorelines also protect water quality buy trapping excess nutrients and sediment; however, in many cases home construction means that vegetation is stripped away, the land is cut to a final grade and the water flows towards the lowest point of the property carrying with it sediment and other undesirable materials to our streams. A 50-foot grass strip border will essentially halt most of the pollutants from entering the water system according to university scientists.

Removal of shoreline vegetation can cause shallow water temperatures to rise. This can adversely affect fish. Impacts to important habitats and to water quality can also occur because of the loss of trees and shrubs, wetlands, beaches, banks and underwater grass beds.

To avoid some of these losses, be sure to plan ahead during any construction activity along waterways. Temporary silt fences may be used until established ground covers can take over. Mixed vegetation, which includes trees, shrubs, ground covers and vines, is better for wildlife and can be designed to be aesthetically pleasing. Be sure to plant adaptive species for your climate.

Check with local Extension offices in your area for the best plants to use four your area.