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3 best practices for slowing erosion

A major thrust of 7 Lakes Alliance is encouraging and facilitating “best management practices,” or BMPs, that mitigate erosion into lakes and streams. Such measures are important to protecting and restoring water quality. Developed property, particularly construction that is not sustainable, is prone to create runoff. Dirt carries phosphorus into a waterbody, and phosphorus feeds algae, which degrades water quality.

Most shoreline properties could benefit from more vegetative buffers in limiting erosion. Blueberry sod such as this is the gold standard of vegetative buffers, though it is expensive.

All BMPs are good, says Stuart Cole, 7 Lakes’ erosion control project coordinator. Which are best, Cole says, depends on the characteristics of a property. He identified the following three BMPs as most common.

  • Vegetative buffers are the most effective BMPs, Cole says. Trees, shrubs, bushes, plants and duff anchor the soil better than grass and keep it from washing away. Trees canopies offer the added benefit of dispersing rainfall before it hits the ground, minimizing runoff. Blueberry bushes and sod are particularly effective BMPs.

  • Defined pathways offer meandering paths to the water using crushed stone or mulch. Left to their own devices, people trod the most direct path between their camps and their docks, typically wearing a dirt path straight to the water. Coarser than the covering used on playgrounds and flowerbeds, erosion-control mulch is the gold standard for mulch.

  • Defined parking areas provide surfaces that, while not completely impervious, are better than dirt. The porous pavers at the 7 Lakes building at 137 Main St. in Belgrade are a great example of a pervious parking area. Many people opt for bluestone, which creates less runoff than asphalt and is leagues better than dirt.

7 Lakes’ LakeSmart program is a free and easy way to determine which BMPs can help minimize runoff from a shoreland property. Recommendations from a LakeSmart survey can be installed in the summertime by 7 Lakes’ Youth Conservation Corps for a minimal cost. The property owner pays for the materials, though Cole arranges for their acquisition. To schedule a survey, email stuart.cole@7lakesalliance.org or call 207-495-6039.

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