Preventing Erosion for Cleaner Lakes in Florence County


Along the border with the Upper Peninsula, Florence County is a beautiful area of forests, lakes, and streams. As water levels continue to rise across the Great Lakes region however, homeowners along lakes struggle with protecting their homes from flooding and their shorelines from wave energy.

Florence County Land Conservation Department (LCD) annually works with landowners in the area to install erosion-reduction projects and shoreline stabilization measures. One of those projects last year focused on a private residence located along Sand Lake, near a public boat landing and park.

The site is elevated from the neighboring park and boat landing. Runoff from the property was eroding the slope and increasing water on the park and boat landing, and this in turn was exacerbating flooding of the low-lying private property on the north side of the park.

“Although this was a gradually declining situation, the trigger for the LCD’s involvement was a series of rain events in 2017 that resulted in the property to the north of the park flooding,” recalled Scott Goodwin, Florence County Conservation Technician.

“We were contacted by the Town of Homestead to assess the park/boat landing to reduce the flooding and erosion. The landowner was aware of the situation and had been installing a timber retaining wall in an effort to stop the erosion. We worked with the owner to replace the wall with vegetated geotextile bags,” said Goodwin.

Vegetated geotextile bags are naturally resilient and environmentally friendly in their design. They are built by weaving rows of soil-filled bag into a cohesive barrier, then locking them in place with spikes. Once seeded, the bags will grow native plants and develop extensive root systems that lock in soil and absorb water.

DATCP engineer Stacy Dehne worked with Goodwin on designing the geotextile barrier to stabilize the slope. The wall was roughly 5 feet tall and set in a running bond pattern that stepped back half a bag per course. The top of the slope was excavated, seeded with native grass seed, and covered with a coconut erosion control netting.

Additionally, a grassed waterway was installed to manage high volumes of water, while filtering and absorbing runoff before entering the lake. Florence County used grant funds from the Soil and Water Resources Management grant program to pay for 50 percent of the project.

“We think the project turned out very well,” said Goodwin. “The landowner seemed very happy with the final product. With routine maintenance from the landowner, the project should keep the slope in place, reduce waterflow on the boat landing, and sediment discharge into the lake, as well as provide a bit of wildlife habitat, for years to come.”

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