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BEFORE AND AFTER SHORELINE EDITION

From vacant to vibrant, nine ways to transform your sterile, erosion-prone shoreline into a functional paradise for wildlife that protects both your land and your lake
By Catherine Collins Illustration Kristen Boydstun

OVER HER 24 years on Christina Lake, in the Boundary Region of B.C., Brenda LaCroix has seen a growing footprint on the beautiful waterbody—“bigger buildings, boats, and lawns,” all culminating in a bigger impact on the natural, vibrant shoreline. But as stewardship manager for the lake, she is a cheerleader for better change. A healthy shore “not only benefits myriad wildlife,” she says, “but us as well—through erosion control, water quality, species diversity, and the intrinsic feeling you get from living a lifestyle on a lake the way it is supposed to be. Most people know this, but need some reminding from time to time.”

For cottagers who need reminding, and those who may need convincing, here are nine dos and don’ts for keeping a thriving shoreline or restoring one to health. When you allow it to function as nature intended, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by what it gives you in return.

Do Less Work

If you’re lucky enough to have a natural shore, unaltered by manicuring, clear-cutting, or concrete barriers, love it and leave it alone. Instead of using your precious cottage time to “tidy up” the water’s edge, you can loll in the hammock, enjoying the blessings that come from being hands off. That strip of native plants, shrubs, and trees with their extensive root systems forms a “green wall” of protection for cottage properties, says Dan Kraus, a conservation biologist for the Nature Conservancy of Canada. “It buffers erosive forces coming from the lake, such as waves and boat wakes, and prevents runoff from carrying nutrients and sediments into the water.”

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About Cottage Life

Start fresh for a new cottage season with the May issue of Cottage Life! The dos and don’ts of natural shorelines How to love your old boat instead of listing it, and how much upgrades and fixes will cost A DIY project to update the sign on your cottage road Pro tips on building a bunkie The inspiring story of cottagers who rebuilt after a forest fire destroyed their cabin Why flood plain maps are essential—and outdated Design ideas from a redone super-cute trailer How innovations in car design and technology can put us on the road to a greener, faster, easier weekend commute Plus, recipes for grilling impressive (yet surprisingly easy) large cuts of meat, such as prime rib, pork shoulder, a whole chicken, and a leg of lamb—yes, please! Pick up the May 2018 issue of Cottage Life for everything you need to get your cottage in shape for summer.