Creating a Healthy Shoreline

Monday, July 5, 2021

Healthy Shorelines Info Packet & Grant Applications

The accepted norm on many of our lakes is to have a mowed lawn up to the edge of a concrete seawall. Concrete seawalls are not natural or healthy for our lakes. In fact, they disrupt the critical ribbon of life on lake shorelines, create added wave action, and stir up the bottom sediments. Sedimentation is the suspension of nutrients and material in our lakes, which is one of the main reasons for algae growth, green muck, and fish scarcity.

A ‘healthy shoreline’ has abundant plants both on the land and in the water. Glacial stone (or rock) seawalls are an improvement over concrete because they help slow wave action. Natural shorelines can also be stunning and easy to maintain without interfering with recreation.

How the lakes and streams in the area are viewed and treated is an evolving mentality. The Watershed Foundation works to catalyze healthy changes in the watershed through on-the-ground projects and education, improving and protecting lake quality for future generations.


The Rise and Fall of the Concrete Seawall

For some time, concrete seawalls and other harsh barriers were implemented in many of the lakes. These walls were inexpensive, easy to maintain, and added a barrier between the lakes and yards of residents. However, scientists soon discovered that the walls did much more than separate the lake from lawns. These man-made barriers replaced natural shorelines, decreasing plant life and animal habitat while escalating erosion and sedimentation in the lakes.

Glacial stone and lily pads in front of concrete seawall
Healthy Shoreline on Webster Lake – refacing concrete seawall with glacial stone.

Finding Solutions

  • In 2011, TWF created the Healthy Shorelines Initiative (HSI) to improve the quality and health of shorelines and lakes in the Upper Tippecanoe River Watershed.
  • The popularity and success of the Healthy Shorelines Initiative have been tremendous. From 2011-2020, 130 HSI projects have been completed on 11,000+ feet of shoreline on 17 lakes.
  • These projects included bioengineered seawalls, new glacial stone seawalls, and re-facing with glacial stone. Combined, these practices reduce erosion and nutrients from the shoreline, disperse wave action, and decrease scouring and re-suspension of bottom sediments.

Celebrating Success

The success of the Healthy Shorelines Initiative was recognized with the 2013 Lake/ Watershed Implementation Project of the Year Award from the Indiana Lakes Management Society. In addition, The Watershed Foundation was the first group in Indiana to be honored by the National Fish Habitat Partnership as one of the 10 “Waters to Watch” across the country.

Concerned lake property owners who see the value in protecting the lakes make the completion of these projects possible. The immense public involvement is a valuable indicator that conditions are changing for the better on these lakes. To learn more about installing a healthy shoreline on your property, visit our Healthy Shorelines page or contact us at or 574.834.3242.

Healthy Shorelines Info Packet & Grant Applications

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