Shoreline and Littoral Zone Assessments

We often associate clear and deep water with good, healthy lakes.  The truth of the matter is that most of the biological activity is taking place in the top 18 inches, and even more so near the shoreline and closely associated littoral zone.  This is where most of the macrophytes are rooted, fish feed and spawn, wave action dissipates, and shoreline interaction takes place.  In most cases, the condition of the shoreline and littoral areas serves as a pretty good indicator of the rest of the lake.

In urban areas we have sacrificed these sacred zones with turf grass edges and seawall, leading to biological deserts and highly erodible land.  The value of these areas cannot be understated and is key to reestablishing lake water quality values, but you cannot fix what is not properly identified and/or cataloged.  Creating a inventory of problematic shoreline allows for prioritization and ranking of these trouble areas for future restoration efforts.

Identifying shoreline trouble areas is typically associated with bank erosion.  Persistent wind action or denuding of near shore property by landowners can lead to erosion prone areas.  Once these locations become undercut they can fall into the lake in large clumps or just wash away over time.  In the past residents have turned to seawall as a viable answer which leads to the biological desert paradigm.  Manhard staff will review and prioritize these areas and even provide a suggested costs to remedy the situation dependent the desire improvement option.

Littoral zones are key areas for the biological production of your lake.  The destruction of these areas causes an aquatic food chain breakage and leads to limited in-lake spawning productivity and a never ending cycle of fish stocking.  Stocked fish are rarely ever as hardy as native fish and are typically more prone to seasonal fish kills.  These areas can be linked to the shoreline and treated together for maximum effectiveness.

If nothing else the assessment serves as an ideal snapshot of your lake in time.  While publicly available aerial photography is an excellent tool in itself, it tends to lack the detail needed to properly assess shorelines and near underwater areas.  I can also be obscured easily by terrestrial vegetation, sun angle, or in some cases wave action.  This process delivers a milestone of your lake and at times has proven useful in policing unpermitted shoreline and landowner activity.

Our staff uses a number of methods to make assessments of shorelines and littoral areas, each of which may be catered to a specific lake due to size, access, or already available data.  We use the following three methods to perform these assessments:

  1. Traditional assessment:  Using a boat we traverse the near shore area, cataloging the conditions of the shoreline and littoral zone independently.  Manhard employs GPS technology to map boundaries for inclusion in the assessment report.  Typical photos are also included as part of the assessment.
  2. Video inventory & assessment:  With the advancement in HD waterproof cameras, Manhard has been able to zoom in to and out of areas for additional clarity.  We can also provide narration to assist in the video interpretation of the assessment.
  3. Drone assessment:  The use of this tool allows for near shore view along with a birds eye take on the conditions.  The multiple angles that can be quickly accommodated make for excellent viedography of how the shoreline and littoral zone interact.  Best overall product and value.