Shoreland Restoration Contest (2015)

The winner of the 2015 Shoreland Restoration Contest is Jim Bartol.  Following is his entry letter.  As the winner of this contest, Jim will receive his prize this spring – to accelerate his vision of creating a natural lake habitat.  Congratulations Jim!

26 August 2014
Dear Cross Lake Association, Please consider my application for a ‘free shoreline restoration’ as announced this summer in the Crossings newsletter and on the CLA website. l have been working on my shoreline and property for a number of years, and have focused on what I have done this summer in this application. I have several restoration areas including two shoreline buffer strips of approx. 20’, a ‘lower’ rain garden of approx. 25’x1O’, an ‘upper’ rain garden of approx. 8’x15’, and a strip of native vegetation of approx. 8’x50′. l hope that some or all of these areas are eligible for the contest

As background, my interest in restoration work began in July 1995 when I worked with Pine County Soil & Water, and U of M Extension Service, to install a rock gabion tube along my shoreline to prevent I erosion. The left photo illustrates erosion that occurs along my shoreline due to wind and wave action, drastic changes (4+ ft. or more) in lake level, and ice heave that occur annually. The newly installed (in 1995) gabion tube is shown below. Note the large patch of bare ground, and abundance of reed canary grass behind the tube Over time, the bare area filled in with more reed canary grass.

In past few years l’ve worked at removing the reed canary grass to the point where I could begin introducing native vegetation to the region to the left of my dock. This photo shows the current situation, with Cord Grass, Black Eye Susan, Marsh Milkweed, Joe Pye Weed, Obedient Plant, Canada Anemone, Sneezeweed, and several trees. In several years this strip will completely fill with native plants that will stabilize the soil behind the gabion tube and prevent reed canary from returning.

The area behind the shoreline on the other side of my dock is smothered by reed canary and various weed, along with isolated patches of sandbar willow. This spring l killed off a small area of weed & grass, and this summer I planted several patches of cord grass, Big Blue Stem, and Obedient Plant to see whether any of these species will flourish in this area. So far, they each appear to be holding their own, and I hope to  restore more of this area next year.

Several years ago I eradicated reed canary along another area of shoreline, and replaced it with cord grass that has now flourished into an established stand. In order to mitigate runoff from the slope behind my shoreline, I carved out a depression for a rain garden last fall. The high water this spring deposited a scattering of Arrowhead plant when it receded. l added a Bottlebrush Sedge, Sweet Flag Iris, and some Joe-Pye Weed and Obedient Plant, however much of the area was taken over by weed by mid- summer.

Much additional work is needed next year to add plant material and control weeds. Behind the rain garden, at the base of the slope, can be seen a native prairie reconstruction to help slow the runoff before it gets to the rain garden. Volunteer Big Bluestem appeared 6 – 8 years ago, and I have been allowing it to spread. I have gradually augmented it with additional native plants. In this area l have added Purple Cone Flower, Pearly Everlasting, and Wild Bergamot this summer. This area also includes native prairie grasses and flowers that I have introduced over the past 5 years. Last fall l killed off another strip in front of this area, and seeded with another generation of prairie flower and grasses this spring. Next spring it should be a profusion of yellow!

Just behind the prairie garden, on the lower slope of the hill, I planted several serviceberry and American High Bush Cranberry plants that I received through the Soil & Water District this spring. Both should provide cover and food for wildlife in the coming years.

Finally, trying to reduce runoff farther ‘upstream’ l installed a rain garden near the top of my slope several years ago. Some of the initial plantings have died out, perhaps because they do not receive enough sun beneath the canopy of mature basswood, oak, and pine trees. However some Western Spiderwort, Marsh Milkweed, Joe-Pye Weed, Cardinal Flower, Canada Blue Joint and cord grass are doing quite well. And it was gratifying to see some native insects enjoying the milkweed blossoms this spring, including a honey bee and a Monarch Butterfly caterpillar. I plan to maintain all areas described in this application, and expand to additional areas of my shoreline and yard as time and money permit. I would be happy to share what I have learned with other CLA members, and learn from what they have experienced in their efforts. Thank you for considering my application.

Jim Bartol