Naturally Colonized Living Shoreline

Setting the Stage for Natural Shoreline Healing

Dissipate most of the wave energy most of the time with an off-shore breakwater with no excavation, no seeding or planting required and no equipment in the upland habitat. The bank will slump to a stable slope and plants represented in the seed bank will naturally colonize the littoral zone. Diverse fauna species will then colonize the habitat. Supplemental seeding is an option to enhance diversity , however supplemental seeding may only be cost effective in a Botanic Garden for Educational Display because the most aggressive plant species best suited to the local conditions will prevail without labor intensive annual hand weeding.


High water on many reservoirs does not last more than a few days. This breakwater slightly submerged by high water, will dissipate a significant portion of the wave energy and the vegetation will dissipate the wave energy that overtops the breakwater. Proven effective for over 20 years.

This project at Kinkaid Lake was studied by SIU Carbondale, Cooperative Wildlife Research Laboratory. The findings of the study were presented to the Illinois Lake Management Association, North American Lake Management Society and articles in various publications. A copy of the findings by: John Severson, Jack Nawrot, Michael Eichholz and David Fligor is available upon request.

A prolonged high water event may temporarily eradicate the aquatic vegetation

In the spring of 2008, Mill Creek Lake had a flood of turbid water that lasted several weeks.
The water level reached 6’ above full pool and the aquatic vegetation behind the breakwater was destroyed.
However the breakwater is intact and still provides conditions favorable for a second round of natural plant colonization.


A permanent breakwater provides conditions for littoral plant growth.