Stabilizing Eroding Slopes

On lakeshores and riverbanks, fluctuating water levels, currents, or wave action can gradually eat away the soil along the water's edge and compromise the ground above. However, any slope – regardless of its proximity to a waterbody – can experience erosion from water runoff. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to mitigate these impacts. 

Photo: A steeply sloped lakeshore stabilized by robust native vegetation on the majority of the slope and protected from erosive wave action by fieldstone riprap along the base.

Vegetation is often essential to slope stabilization. Native trees, shrubs, wildflowers, and grasses provide ground cover, slow the velocity of water runoff, and produce a network of deep, interconnected roots, which help lock soil in place. Lawn debris, heavy shade, and invasive buckthorn are common drivers of suppressed plant growth. To manage these challenges, avoid dumping yard waste on sloped areas, prune trees and shrubs to increase sunlight, and remove buckthorn using these techniques. Then, bolster the native plant community with supplemental seeding and/or plantings. Be sure to select species well-suited to your property, and support them as they became established by removing weeds, watering when needed, and covering temporarily exposed soils with erosion control fabric. This seed selection tool, plant finder tool, and native plant encyclopedia can help you select plants well-suited to your site.  

Photo: Straw wattles used to manage erosion on a sandy slope in Anoka County. The area was later hydro-seeded and planted with native vegetation.

In some cases, additional stabilization elements are needed. Rock rip-rap, coir logs, and tree revetments are commonly used to protect the zone where moving water meets the land and restricts vegetation growth. Excessively steep slopes can be re-shaped to a more stable grade, and brush or straw wattles can be trenched into the slope to slow water runoff and trap soil. Taking early action to stabilize your slope is key to avoiding costlier solutions such as retaining walls or other heavily engineered approaches. For more information contact Breanna Keith, Water Resource Specialist, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

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Getting a Better View from the Water

Inventorying shoreline zones on surface waters throughout Anoka County serve as valuable tools for assessing lakeshore and riverbank conditions, comparing current conditions to previous years to identify changes, and for prioritizing project implementation. ACD recently purchased a 360° video camera that has 4 high-definition lenses and a rugged design, to be used outside in the elements. The camera takes continuous video that is Geo-located and stitched together creating a final GPS video that is viewable from all angles. Following a day on the water with the 360° camera, videos are uploaded to Google Street View Studio, a new application recently released by Google. 

Like a Road That Shows Up Blue in Google Street View, You Can Place the Person Down on the Blue Track on the Water Body
Oak Glen Creek, Fall, 2023. You Can Click or Use Keyboard Arrows To Move Your Way From One Image To The Next

Once uploaded to the Google Studio App, the videos are public and accessible to anyone. ACD utilizes these videos to compile shoreline reports, which describe erosion severity and provide recommendations for project needs. Shoreline videos along Martin, Coon, Linwood Lake, the southern portion of the Mississippi River, and Oak Glen Creek were collected throughout 2023 and are now available to view. Click on the individual links above to begin exploring. Videos along the Rum River were also collected and will be available to the public soon!

For more information contact Kris Larson, Water Resource Specialist, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. 

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Linwood Lakers Try Out Native Shoreline Plants

Property owners at the Linwood Lake Association annual picnic took home native plants to try in their shoreline landscaping. The plants of 12 species were chosen for their beauty, as well as for providing shoreline stability & habitat.

"Try it, and you'll like it. The first one's free." A free trial can be just what's needed to break through to new customers. At the 2021 & 2022 Linwood Lake Improvement Association annual picnics, the Anoka Conservation District distributed nearly 200 native shoreline plants to be planted all around the lake at 25+ different properties.

Native plants can mean "weeds" to some folks. Or just out of the comfort zone. But the right plant in the right place is beautiful and effective. On shorelines there are a variety of native plants that are the perfect choice– beautiful, strong, and well-adapted to the wet. Good habitat too. They're key to a stable shore and healthy lake.

Thanks to Minnesota Native Landscapes, Inc. who provided the giveaway plants this year. ACD offers technical help and grants for those wanting to do a larger shore stabilization or buffer project.

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KNOW YOUR SHORELINE

Minor erosion at the toe of slope exposed during low water. If the erosion is addressed early, larger bank failures in the future may be avoided.

If you live on water, whether it be a lake, river, creek, or stormwater pond, low water during the summer months can provide a great opportunity for you to conduct a quick inspection of your shoreline condition. The very bottom of your shoreline, where it meets the water, is called the toe and is the most critical part for stability.

Low water often exposes the toe of the slope and allows you to identify areas of concern. For example, you might observe undercutting, where the lowest portion of the bank has been scoured away by flowing water or wave action. When problems are caught early, the solutions are often much simpler and cheaper. Addressing erosion concerns early also helps prevent more severe bank failures down the road.

Another good time to inspect your bank is in the fall once leaves have fallen and before snowfall. You can inspect the upper portions of your bank for problems like rutting from concentrated overland flow over the top of the bank.

If you have any questions about your shoreline or think a site visit may be warranted, please contact ACD staff. We're here to help. 

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Rum Riverbank Stabilization Grants Available

A recent shoreline stabilization project on the Rum River

Grant funds are available to landowners for addressing shoreline erosion on the Rum River. If your shoreline is falling into the river, migrating back over time, or the bottom has washed out leaving an overhang, these funds can pay for a substantial portion of design and construction of a solution. Funding is available to address erosion issues of all sizes, with landowners typically paying 15-25% of the project cost. Shoreline restoration does more than just protect your property. It also protects the water resource you live on and enhances river habitat!

Those interested can schedule a site visit with Anoka Conservation District (ACD) staff to discuss options and see if your shoreline might fit into one of our various grant programs for financial assistance. Because the design and construction bidding can take months, starting in the spring is recommended. Contact Jared Wagner at ACD at 763-434-2030 x200 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Rum Riverbank stabilization projects are a partnership of ACD, Anoka County Parks, and the Upper and Lower Rum River Watershed Management Organizations (URRWMO, LRRWMO) with funding from the Clean Water Land and Legacy Amendment.

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Assistance for Shoreline Erosion

ACD has a number of grant opportunities available for addressing shoreline erosion along both streams and lakes in Anoka County. If you have noticed your lakeshore migrating back on you over time, or perhaps once had a low walkable area along your river frontage that is now gone leaving only a steep drop-off, ACD may be able to help you design and even fund a project to protect your property.

The first step is a site visit to your property by ACD staff. Now is a great time to reach out to ACD to plan a site visit in the spring. We will assess your erosion problems, give you advice on how to address them, and see if your shoreline might fit into one of our various grant programs for financial assistance. Shoreline restoration does far more than just protect your property. It also protects the water resource you live on, and also enhances habitat for all of the wildlife that utilizes that resource! 

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Lake George Shoreline Stabilization Projects Selected

Seven properties totaling 540 feet of shoreline will be stabilized at Lake George in the coming months. The projects are part of efforts to reverse a trend of declining water quality in the lake and enhance near shore habitat. All of the project sites are on private properties with active shoreline erosion. The work will reduce sediment entering Lake George by 8 tons/yr and phosphorus by 12 lbs/yr.

The seven sites were chosen from all around the lake, and the places where ACD staff determined the greatest pollutant reductions could be achieved with the greatest certainty. We used existing shoreline inventories to identify 35 properties with actively eroding shoreline. Of those properties, 25 expressed interested. ACD staff visited each property and heard first-hand from those landowners about their shorelines. Finally, each shoreline was scored relative to erosive forces, current erosion, benefits of upland buffers to filter runoff, pollutant reduction calculations, and likelihood of success.

$70,000 in grant funds is available for construction. That dollar amount limits work to approximately the top seven projects, however more will be done if construction bids are low. Funding is from a Watershed Based Implementation grant from the MN Board of Water and Soil Resources. The programs for this grant were selected by a team of local partners including city, watershed organization, and soil and water conservation district representatives. Collaborators on the Lake George shoreline program include the Upper Rum River Watershed Management Organization and Lake George Conservation Club.

Shoreline stabilization measures will vary. All include rock or natural fiber protection at the water's edge, as well as a native plant shoreline buffer. Some will include regrading to a stable slope.

Owners of properties selected for shoreline stabilization are being notified now. Surveying, design, and construction bidding will occur in 2021.Projects will be installed in spring 2022.

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