Lake-Friendly Actions Along the Shoreline

Do you own or manage a property along a lake or pond?

If yes, check out these lake-friendly living tips which will help you keep the water clean and healthy while enhancing the look and value of your shoreline property! 

Don’t rake the lake.

  • Aquatic plants in the lake are natural and provide food, habitat, and protection for wildlife. Rocks and vegetation also prevent wave action from stirring up the bottom sediments.
  • When rocks and vegetation on the lake bottom are raked, the nutrient phosphorus can be released from the disturbed sediment.
  • While phosphorus is found naturally in our lakes, too much can cause excess plant, algal, and cyanobacteria growth. Some cyanobacteria can be toxic to humans, pets, and wildlife!
  • Raking in the water is illegal! Disturbing the sediment increases the water’s turbidity, which can result in a state water quality violation.

Avoid attracting waterfowl.

  • Don’t feed the waterfowl.
    • Feeding waterfowl will attract more to your property. A single goose can create up to two pounds of waste per day! Waterfowl waste can contain significant amounts of phosphorus which can cause water quality problems, such as algae blooms.
    • Waterfowl waste usually contains harmful parasites and bacteria that can contaminate swimming areas, causing what is commonly called “swimmer’s itch” for some people.
    • Waterfowl are healthier when they consume the foods they naturally forage.
Grass righ up to the water is like a welcome mat for waterfoul.
Provide barriers along the shoreline to discourage waterfoul.

Keep aquatic plants in their natural state.

  • It’s illegal to remove aquatic plants without a permit! 
  • Aquatic plants help keep shorelines in place by stabilizing lake bottoms and shorelines with their roots and absorbing wave energy.
  • Aquatic plants are also important for fish spawning and nursery areas and provide habitat for insects and other organisms that support the lake food web. 
  • Removing native plants may open up habitat for invasive exotic plants to take over.
  • Early detection of aquatic invasive plants is key for preventing more spread throughout your lake or pond. If you think you see an aquatic invasive species, go to the DES Invasive Species webpage for your next steps.
  • Before any invasive plant, such as variable milfoil, can be managed, the waterbody must have a New Hampshire Department of Environmental Service (NHDES) approved long-term management plan. For information, contact NHDES at (603) 271-2248.

Avoid dumping sand or creating new beaches.

  • Sandy beaches that are not naturally occurring will not last. The sand will either be carried away by water currents or slowly settle into the bottom of the lake, where it will contribute to the rate of the lake filling in and aging.
  • The addition of sand along the shoreline will smother bottom-dwelling organisms, alter the food chain, destroy fish spawning and nesting sites, and damage fish gills. As the lake becomes shallower, more sunlight will reach the lake bottom, which can lead to increased plant growth.
  • It is illegal to dump sand or create a beach in New Hampshire without a permit from the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services. For permit information, visit Permitting Non-Tidal Beaches or contact NHDES at (603) 271-2147.

Leave the shoreline and nearshore area in its natural state.

  • Do not remove trees and other vegetation within 250 feet of the shoreline unless you have received a Shoreland Permit that instructs you how to do so. Trees and shrubs help stabilize the soil and reduce the amount of polluted water that flows into lakes and other surface waters. For permit information, visit Shoreland Permit | NH Department of Environmental Services or contact NHDES at (603) 271-2147.
  • Do not remove rocks and native aquatic plants. Rocks and aquatic plants help break waves and prevent erosion and are important to maintaining the ecological health of waterbodies.

Do not bathe yourself or your pets in the water.

  • Soaps and shampoos will add unwanted nutrients and other pollutants to the lake. Even camping soaps or biodegradable soaps may contain undesirable pollutants.
  • Bathing in the lake can introduce bacteria scum and particulates.

Restore altered shorelines.

Much of the shoreline along New Hampshire’s lakes has already been altered and degraded by the removal of natural vegetation for the construction of docks, houses, lawns, and roads. While shoreline property owners are not required to restore altered shorelines, it is encouraged! It is also relatively easy and good for the lake–and may even increase the attractiveness and value of your property!

  • Convert a human-made sandy beach to a completely vegetated area.
  • If you must have a sandy human-made beach, make it smaller, or construct a perched beach. A perched beach is one with little or no slope that is set back from the water. Perching a beach will help correct erosion problems on a sloping, sandy beach that leads directly to the water. Contact NHDES for permit requirements at (603) 271-2147.
  • Limit foot traffic to and from the shoreline by providing only one meandering pathway surrounded by vegetation.
  • Prevent polluted water from flowing off your property and into the lake by redesigning walkways and paths, and by adding rain gardens and vegetated buffers.
A natural shoreline with a perched beach will help correct erosion problems.

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