NATURAL SHORELINE BIO-ENGINEERING
As part of the Upper Grand River Implementation Project (UGRIP), an effort to reduce sedimentation in Michigan's longest river, the Jackson County Conservation District (JCCD) contracted ASTI Environmental to demonstrate new shoreline stabilization techniques and materials promoted by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) as an alternative to seawalls and riprap.
ASTI's staff includes Certified Natural Shoreline Professionals and Natural Shoreline Educators trained and certified under the Michigan Natural Shoreline Partnership coordinated by MDEQ and MSU Cooperative Extension. ASTI worked with the Jackson County Parks Department to select two demonstrations sites in Vandercook Lake County Park where more than 1-foot of shoreline was being lost each year to wave and ice erosion. ASTI assessed the site and developed topographic survey, grading and planting plans and specifications, and acquired an MDEQ permit for installing coir (coconut fiber) logs and native plants to protect the shore. The coir will decompose over time, but will dissipate wave energy while native plants establish roots systems better equipped than the former turf grass to hold shoreline soils in place.
ASTI worked with the JCCD, Parks, the Upper Grand River Watershed Alliance, the Grand River Environmental Action Team, and the Jackson County Master Gardeners to remove existing sod and install topsoil, coir logs, plants, seed, and erosion control fabrics.
Shoreline changes after a single growing season have been dramatic. Not only have the planted materials become established, but additional native water lilies, not readily found along the Vandercook Lake shore, have taken advantage of the coir wave breaks to grow on the site. Vandercook Lake Park now serves as a living laboratory, helping to inform current and future projects of this type.