Why You Should NOT Put off Dealing with an Eroding Shoreline
You’re sitting at your shoreline on the lake, taking in the scenery and air, and maybe taking in a cold brew. The only part that’s less than perfect is your shoreline itself.
The shoreline is eroding. It’s looking ratty and ownerless – like a sand castle a kid enjoyed for one day at the beach, before clueless sunbathers waddled through it.
You may say, “Oh boy, if that shoreline erodes much more we’re going to have to do something about it,” as you finish your brew. If that’s your last evening on your shoreline for the season, you probably don’t want to do anything about it now. Why bother, if winter is a few months away?
But next time you crack open a cold one at your shoreline, your eyes may be fresher and suddenly it will hit you: over the years, you’ve lost several feet of land to erosion.
You’ll wade out and hammer a stake in the water, to mark where your shoreline used to be. Then you might call us, the Lakeshore Guys.
“Hey, my shoreline has receded by about 10 feet. Can you put rebuild it?”
That’s when we’ll have to break the bad news to you:
It’s illegal to replace lost shoreline.
You called the right guys, but you called too late. You just donated your land to the fish, and they thank you.
A permit is required to replace lost shoreline, and you probably can’t get one. Without a permit, it’s illegal to add any significant amount of soil to the shoreline or to any other parts of the lake. You can’t add dirt to the shoreline for the sole purpose of creating more land.
The government doesn’t want you creating land, even if you’re just trying to reclaim it from Mother Nature. To them, not only could you screw up the whole ecosystem, but you might also overreach and try to build yourself a strategic archipelago that allows for easy deployment of fishing lines into your neighbor’s water. Too complicated.
On paper, you can do it with a permit. The catch is that the Department of Natural Resources does not want to issue those permits. We’ve been doing this for 20 years and we have never once seen a property owner get one. It’s potentially bad for the environment and they don’t want you to do it.
Even if you could get a permit, restoring lost shoreline is nearly impossible.
It’s not just a matter of throwing some dirt into the lake. The waves will gobble up the solid matter faster than we can pour it. There’s a complex process we can go through, but we can’t guarantee that the results will stand the test of time. It took Mother Nature a long time to create the shoreline, and it was probably eroding for many years before you owned it. Even we can’t undo that process easily. Mother Nature giveth and Mother Nature taketh away.
But we can offer preventative measures.
You can halt your erosion now and cut your losses.
A properly riprapped shoreline will help you prevent erosion. If you don’t have one, we suggest you get one as soon as you begin to notice erosion – because you can never get back what you lose.
If you don’t have money on hand right now, we suggest you get a loan. Nobody likes taking out a loan, but we assume you’d prefer it to paying property taxes on land you no longer own.
You love spending time on your shoreline because it gives you a healthy feeling of control: you’ve done well enough to own lakefront property, and you can always go there to relax, no matter what else is going on in the world. The lake is a constant. But your land isn’t as constant and you’ll have to put in a little effort to keep it. It’s worth it.