Vegetation Management in Shoreland Areas


Property owners and developers are cautioned that the protection of natural vegetation within shoreland areas, and in particular along lake and stream banks, is critical to the affected landowner as well as the general public.  Shoreland management regulations prohibit vegetation clearing within bluff and shore impact zones as well as on steep slopes in order to protect the vegetation and soil resources on vulnerable land areas.  The existence of vegetation on these sites is important to reduce the erosive effects of rainfall striking unprotected soil. Vegetation can also reduce the velocity or disperse the flow of surface water runoff, which is important since high velocity or concentrated surface water runoff can readily erode exposed soils.  Vegetation in these areas will also consume and utilize nutrients found in runoff waters or in the soil profile which would otherwise degrade the shoreland water quality if not removed.  Additionally, vegetation root systems in these areas will assist in binding the soil column to prevent or reduce the likelihood of bank and slope failure, which further protects the fish and wildlife habitat values associated with shoreland areas.  The existence of vegetation in these areas also acts to screen shoreland development activities thereby protecting and preserving the natural aesthetic values of shoreland areas as directed by the shoreland management statute.


A limited amount of trees and shrubs may be cleared or pruned to accommodate stairways and access paths.  However, the applicable standard for the removal of any shoreland vegetation is that the screening of structures, vehicles or other facilities as viewed from the water may not be substantially reduced.  The above restrictions do not apply to dead or diseased vegetation.


These regulations are designed to preserve the natural character and habitat of our shoreland areas as well as to minimize soil erosion from these environmentally sensitive properties.  Retaining native vegetation protects water quality and wildlife habitat, minimizes erosion potential, and offers a natural scenic beauty and privacy.  In addition, the plant species that have evolved on a particular site are best suited to the applicable conditions.


The local zoning office should be contacted for guidance before proceeding with any lakeshore alterations or removal of live vegetation.