Many cities and counties require shoreline setbacks and riparian buffers for new construction. These are usually measured from the ordinary high water mark and are part of the initial site planning. For example, the Whatcom County Critical Areas Ordinance specifies a 50-foot buffer per side for streams without fish, and a 100-foot buffer per side for fish-bearing creeks.
Make your healthy riparian zone as large as possible. Resist the temptation to tear out your shoreline vegetation for a better view, access to the water, expansive lawns or just to tidy up.
Put it back and let nature do the rest
In these sensitive areas, consider the lakescaping approach: replace grass with flowers, trees and shrubs appropriate to shoreland. There is a wealth of current information available from books, WSU Cooperative Extension, local nurseries, and the Internet.
The beauty of using appropriate vegetation is that after the plants get established, they are virtually maintenance free. Plants that are adapted to your propertys soil, light, and water conditions usually wont need watering, fertilizers or pesticides.
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