28 / 19
      32 / 14
      17 / 5

      Restoring shorelines naturally

      With the vast shorelines in the U.P., many landowners face the issue of waterfront erosion.

      Bonnie Hay, from the Gratiot Lake Conservancy, said maintaining the native plants will not only control erosion, but could increase property value.

      â??It'll both help them to control erosion along the shoreline, and it will also improve wildlife values, and if you put beautiful, flowering shrubs or herbaceous perennials there, it'll actually enhance the view,â?? explained Hay.

      Jim Bess, Ph.D., student at Michigan Tech, has been restoring the shoreline at the Marsin Center for the past four years. He said many people tend to build concrete blockades to control the shoreline that aren't as effective in the long run.

      â??Human activity has had such an impact on the natural world,â?? said Bess. â??Anything I can do to try to kind of stem that and bring back some of the more natural native things that grow here is something that I'm really interested in.â??

      One of the things being experimented with at the Marsin Center is this coconut fiber fabric that's made out of the hairs that come off of coconuts. It's rolled out underneath the water, and it holds all the plant life together so that it can form an effective boundary layer to protect against erosion.

      â??It also helps break the waves when they come in,â?? Bess added. â??It really, really breaks the waves well, which works really well, and it holds the soil in place as well.â??

      Hay said using these natural methods, though, isn't for the faint. It could take years to see the progress, but the results are worth it.

      â??We see it as an opportunity to help people manage their land in a way that's going to help preserve the aspects of the water that they really love,â?? she said.