So what is wrong with some sand falling into the lake? There is already a lot of sand on the lake bed. When we were kids, we loved to slide down a steep sandy bank.
The trouble is that particles of sand can carry phosphorus into the lake. Even adding very small amounts of phosphorus to lake water promotes plant growth--including algae which can foul the water in sufficient concentration.
The particles of sand can completely cover the beds of rocks that fish lay their eggs on. With no good place to lay eggs the fish population decreases.
So sand carries phosphorus which promotes lake-clogging plant growth, and sand covers fish spawning beds which decreases fish population in the lake.
Rain water running over our roofs, driveways, and lawns runs to the lakes carrying sediment, sand, driveway chemicals, lawn pesticides, and the thousands of chemicals that man has synthesized.
Better if the water is made to run through a plant barrier which catches sediment, and better if the water first gets filtered by plants and earth where natural processes and bacteria can breakdown the chemicals before the water eventually reaches the lake.
Filtering water through plants is so effective that is is done in certain sewage systems. Running sewage into a bed of shallow water plants purifies the water using natural bacteria in natural processes.
We can protect our lakes by reestablishing plants on the shoreline. A barrier of shoreline plants is used to slow water runoff and to absorb and detoxify the chemicals contained in the water.
Recently WAPOA has sponsored or helped with several projects that are intended to stop shoreline bank erosion and projects that promote a natural plant barrier between our developed lawns and the lake.
Eroding collapsing bank on Rollies Island on Whitefish Lake.
The first part of the restoration is barely visible at the waterline.
WAPOA volunteers helped the sponsoring Big Island group on the restoration.
Many volunteer for both organizations.
The volunteers placed willow wattles on the bank.
The wattles were woven from willow stems gathered locally.
In addition, heavy burlap was staked to prevent erosion and native plants were placed in cutout holes.
Squares of native grasses were also planted.
What a difference!
Six weeks later plants and grasses are flourishing.
We discovered with a previous project how important watering is.
If there is not enough rain we water the bank regularly with water pumped right from the lake.
The pump and fire hose are brought out by boat.
The eroding banks in parts of Whitefish were caused years ago when the water levels were raised for logging.
More projects will follow
WAPOA is also encouraging landowners to start restoring their own banks, even those with gentle slopes.
Restoration need not be as complicated as this. One can simply start by not doing something, Easy to not do something?
Just stop mowing your lawn clear to the water. Instead let the vegetation grow. You will be surprised at the plants that appear.
Some are from seeds long dormant. One can add native plants too if desired.
A barrier of natural plants between your lawn and the lake will greatly decrease the sediment and chemicals running from your lawn to the lake. Less phosphorus enters the lake. Water will be clearer and there will be less algae.
We intend to add more information in the near future (on this page) about those projects.