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Dikes and breakwalls are often constructed to reduce the risk of flooding and erosion along the shoreline of the Great Lakes , and to protect residential areas, cottages and agricultural lands from ship or boat wakes. These structures have a diverse array of impacts on the coastal habitat region of the lake. They reduce the natural sediment supply that nourishes wetland communities and can interfere with sediment processes that maintain wetlands. Hard shoreline structures can shift wave energy and increase erosion rates in other parts of the coastal zone. They can restrict the necessary landward movement of wetland communities during high water periods, causing a "backstopping" effect that reduces the size and diversity of wetland communities. Shoreling modifications can also impact wildlife communities as they can isolate wetlands from natural interactions with upland communities. Fore more information, see the section on shoreline modification.
For more information, see: Coastal Habitat Plan, Section V (PDF)