Continuing with our discussion on natural landscaping along shore lines and knowing soon we will be seeing the damage from Lake Winnebago’s ice shoves, I thought this article on “Ice Ridges” from Natural Shore Technologies would be just the thing to share.
“If you live on a lake, you quickly realize that ice sheets are incredibly dynamic. Environmental conditions such as temperature, sunlight and wind work to expand, contract, make and melt ice. Throughout winter, the movement of ice causes a natural disturbance to our lake shorelines.
The most noticeable result of ice action is the formation of ice ridges along the shoreline. This is caused when an expanding ice sheet pushes soil up and creates a mound or ridge. This pushing action occurs when ice sheets contract and expand due to the warming and freezing of the ice throughout the winter months. This phenomenon has been occurring naturally on our Minnesota lakes for thousands of years. It is accelerated and more extreme when there is no blanket of snow on the ice. Snow acts as insulation and buffers air temperatures.
Ice ridges, at first glance, can look messy, destructive and out of place. Immediately, we start thinking of ways to repair the shore by re-grading and leveling the ground. Wait, stop, hold on! These ice ridges are in fact natural and do provide benefits to our lake ecosystems. These ridges are made up of an assortment of soil material and lake-bottom sediments, which creates a natural barrier for water running off the land. You can think of this ridge as a water filter, since much of the water runoff is held back and slowly infiltrated into the soil at the bottom of these ridges. Nutrients deposited from the water over time, produce a fertile and rich soil where a wide assortment of shoreline plants and trees can flourish.
Ice ridges along natural shores provide habitat for a variety of native plants. The deep rooted vegetation works to repair and eventually cover up and hold in place any exposed soil. The change in elevation creates micro-habitats, which encourages plant diversity. The vast array of native vegetation provides habitat for a diversity of birds and pollinators, and also produces wonderful nesting and spawning areas for fish in the shallow waters. Ice ridges are a natural component of undeveloped shores, and actually protect the shoreline from further ice heaving.”
WHAT TO DO TO MITIGATE DAMAGE FROM ICE SHOVES?
“Instead of re-grading, a more ecologically sound option is to plant those ice ridges with a diversity of native plant species. Over time, this dynamic stretch of your shore will naturally become more stable, provide water quality benefits, host an inspiring assortment of birds, fish and other wildlife, and put on brilliant shows of color throughout the seasons. Your ice ridge has the potential to become not only strikingly beautiful, but also a key ecological benefit.”
See list of Prairie and Wetland Flowers from Natural Shore Technologies
Healthy Lakes 350ft2 Native Planting Companion Guide from UW-Extension Lakes, Wisconsin Lakes Partnership