Erosion Control: Solution-based Design

Erosion Control Shoreland Design

ZBA becomes Lamoille Valley’s only Certified Erosion Control Specialist

Last week, design associate Ronny Stelly completed the Vermont Natural Shore Land Erosion Control course. This course allows us to design with key principles for shore land protection, with a focus on best management practices for development. Professionals who complete the course are trained to provide lake-friendly shore land management solutions.

Group Presentations at the VT DEC Natural Shoreland Erosion Control course


A focus on reducing erosion in the landscape is a fairly new agenda item for the Vermont DEC. It’s only been since 2014 that the state has adopted strict guidelines for how we are to behave when sculpting along the shoreline. The continued, negative press on the ecological health of Lake Champlain has contractors and farm workers taking note of the changes.

Because other states like Maine and Michigan have been considering stormwater impacts on their waterbodies for quite sometime, Vermont wasn’t starting from scratch. In fact, some of the materials you’ll see have essentially been borrowed from these long-running programs.

Shore land Zone
A very familiar shore land zone render from Vermont DEC

Regulations and Lake Value

The most common thread of agreement among all states is the 250′ protected shore land zone. (Seen above) Simply put, you are required to obtain a permit when creating impervious surfaces or newly cleared areas within 250′ of a lake that’s 10 acres or larger.

What defines a lake? A lake isn’t just a lake because it’s called a lake. Generally speaking, any body of water that exceeds 15′ in depth is considered a lake. Beyond this depth, plants cannot grow, therefore higher chance of ecosystem disturbance. This is important in understanding why such regulations exist and how the shore land are is more vulnerable to human activity.

Shore land Design

Another reason to sound the alarm on lake conservation is the cultural and economic factors at play. Shrewed lake associations have actually renamed their ponds to incorporate the lake name. Several studies show that when a body of water has the name “lake” attached, an increase in development occurs.

Expected Outcomes

Solutions for erosion control in the shore land zone are sure to introduce you to new engineering concepts. For quite some time, the status-quo for controlling erosion has been rocks, rocks, rocks. Regulated construction considers what nature and ancient cultures have done for centuries to withstand forces in the landscape.

Dormant seeding being blown into the hillside at the Rappatuk Community (designed by Zachary Berger Associates, Ltd. Install by Bark Brothers and CM Nichols)
Vermont Shoreland Project

Bioengineering is a multi-faceted approach that takes biodegradable products, native plants and other natural materials to stabilize the shore land. Doing so allows access for turtle, frogs and other animals that need dry land to thrive in an ecosystem. Additionally, these methods of construction protect properties from waves and erosion, while filtering runoff to lakes and streams.

Erosion Control Design

While Vermont doesn’t have the lake presence of Maine or New Hampshire, understanding how erosion control measures are applied in the Vermont landscape is valuable. Whether it be on the shore land or a residential property, design for erosion control is often necessary.

Stabilization on Great East Lake in Acton, Maine (design Zachary Berger Associates, Ltd. Install by Green Monster Landscapes & Boiling Spring Landscapes)

Identifying problematic erosion issues in your landscape is the first step. Secondly, choose a landscape professional who understands the power of water in the landscape and is certified to provide a solution based design. Continuing with business as usual only puts a patch on landscape erosion until the next storm hits. Act now and call us today!