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Natural Shorelines

Did you know that a natural shoreline is best for lake health? A natural shoreline reduces runoff and captures pollution before it enters a lake.

Did you know that a natural shoreline is best for lake health?

A natural shoreline reduces runoff and captures pollution before it enters a lake. It's also a diverse ecosystem that creates:

  • A buffer against wave action that erodes soil

  • Spawning areas for bass, crappie and other fish

  • Habitat for birds, butterflies, turtles and frogs

Consider restoring your shore to its natural state! Not only will you protect your shoreline from erosion, but you'll also reduce pollution entering the lake and create an oasis for wildlife.

What is a natural shoreline?

A natural shoreline is a habitat with a diverse mix of plants near and within the water. Native plants maximize benefits such as capturing runoff, filtering pollution, and providing habitat for wildlife. Deep roots of native plants also hold soil in place and use up nutrients that would otherwise cause algae blooms. A natural shoreline creates a buffer between land and water that reduces erosion from wave action.


Permits needed for shoreline work

Modifications to a shoreline such as placement of riprap (rock), re-grading or movement of soil, creating a beach, and installing a retaining wall triggers the District's Rule F and requires a permit from the District.  Not sure if the work you want to do requires a permit? Please email Mat Nicklay.


Aquatic plants for lake health

Native aquatic plants provide valuable services in protecting lake health. They shelter young fish and other small animals, reflect heat to keep water cooler, absorb water pollution, provide food for ducks and other birds, and so much more! Because of these benefits, the Minnesota DNR regulates aquatic plants. If you want to control or remove aquatic plants, you will most likely need a permit. Learn more from the DNR Aquatic Plant Management Program.

Planning to do work along or near your shoreline or off-shore? You likely need a permit. Find out more on our shoreline permit page.


Apply for a Natural Shoreline Restoration Grant

RPBCWD offers generous cost-share grants for shoreline restorations! Residential property owners can get up to 75% of cost up to $5,000. Non-profits can get up to 75% of cost up to $20,000.

Learn more about grants

Learn about District Rules & Permits

The rules are a watershed-wide regulatory structure that ensures a consistent level of resource protection across the watershed as required by the Metropolitan Surface Water Management Act.

Learn more about permits

Resources for Lakeshore Residents


Score your Shore

A tool developed by the DNR to help shoreline property owners assess the state of their shore.

Score your Shore

Restore your Shore

A collection of DNR resources to help you restore your natural shoreline, such as solutions to common problems, plant guides to help you choose the right plants for your shore, and step-by-step guides to help you complete your project.

Restore your Shore

Determine your Ordinary High Water Level

Permits are required for work done below the Ordinary High Water Level (OHWL) of your shoreline. Contact your local DNR Area hydrologist to request info about your property's OHWL.

Learn more

Learn More

The DNR provides Info sheets discussing common shoreline alteration projects.

Learn More

Goose Trouble?

Canada geese can be pests in a backyard, and scare tactics such as pinwheels and scarecrows only work for so long. Looking for a long-term solution? Restore your shore! The tall and thick vegetation of a natural shoreline discourages Canada geese from strolling into your yard.


General questions or questions about grant money for a natural shoreline restoration? Visit the Stewardship Grant page.

Shoreline work or permitting questions? Visit the Permits page.

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Lakeshore Management

In February 2021, we partnered with the Minnesota DNR and Stearns County Soil and Water Conservation District to host a webinar about Lakeshore Management. Topics covered include why healthy lakeshores are important, best management practices, and how to choose the right practice for your lakeshore. 

Benefits of a Natural Shoreline

This short animated video from Anoka Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD) provides a great overview of the benefits of a natural shoreline.