Lake St. Clair Coastal Habitat
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Shoreline Hardening

Graph credit : Great Lakes Commission

Of the 542 miles (871 km) of Lake St. Clair’s shoreline within the project area, 31 percent is identified as riprap, retaining wall, harbor structure or breakwater according to Environment Canada. Nearly the entire U.S. shoreline, except the islands of the delta, is armored.

Some of the physical processes linked to shoreline hardening are:
• beach area loss
• accelerated erosion of adjacent, unarmored property
• decrease in sediment supply to the beach
• increased wave energy seaward of armoring
• narrowing of dry beach area
• coarsening of existing beach material

Some of the biological processes linked to shoreline hardening are:
• burial or removal of habitat for bottom dwelling species due to shifts in beach material
• alterations in or complete loss of vegetative cover resulting in temperature fluctuations in shallow water
• loss of spawning, foraging and nursery habitat for fish due to alteration in the substrate
• loss of migratory corridor for fish caused by shifts in water elevation from existence of armoring
• decreased organic inputs due to loss of vegetation adjacent to the shoreline
• interruption of beach access to foraging wildlife

Although erosion is caused by natural shoreline processes, its rate and severity can be intensified by human activity. Wise management of shoreline construction and land uses can significantly reduce economic losses due to erosion.

For more information, see: Coastal Habitat Plan, Section V (PDF)