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Buffer zones improve water shorelines and habitat

Do you live or vacation near a lake or stream? Is your shoreline eroding more and more each year? Would you like to beautify your yard with showstopping flower blooms and grasses while protecting water quality and attracting turtles, frogs, songbirds and beneficial pollinators like bees and butterflies?

Whether you've lived on a lake or stream for a year or 50 years, we encourage you to think about what we call your "buffer zone." This area between your backyard and the lake is very important. A good buffer zone not only keeps your lake healthier and cleaner, but also adds beauty to your shoreline and provides habitat for birds, beneficial insects, and other wildlife while still having that beautiful view of your lake.

Buffers generally include deep-rooted native plants like grasses, flowers and flowering shrubs. These native plants provide critical habitat for our bees, butterflies, songbirds and many other types of wildlife that use the vegetation for shelter and food. Low-cost and low-maintenance, native buffers do not require fertilizing, regular mowing, or irrigation, and have a positive effect on the soil. Their extensive fibrous root systems, which can grow down to 15 feet, reduce erosion, restore soil health, and filter runoff before it enters streams and lakes. They also hold your shoreline in place and minimize the impacts of ice heaves and wave action.

If this interests you but you don't know where to start, the Carlton Soil and Water Conservation District and Fond du Lac Reservation are holding a free "Restore Your Shoreline" workshop from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, May 3, at the Cloquet Public Library that will teach you everything you need to know about restoring your shore.

Plus, Carlton SWCD staff will schedule a free site visit with you. Even better, we also have funds to help cover up to 75 percent of your project.

Our goal is to help the residents of Carlton County and the Fond du Lac Band protect and restore our great state's natural resources. Do your part and keep our lakes and streams healthy. Even the smallest project helps our water quality, bees, birds, and butterflies.

Oh, and check out the native plant kit and seed mix sale going on now through June 3. Find details at http://www.carltonswcd.org.

Call or email writer and conservation specialist Alyssa Bloss at (218) 384-3891 or [email protected] to register, schedule a site visit, or relay any questions.

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