Feature Article - November 2006
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Special Supplement: Problem-Solver Guidebook

By Stacy St. Clair and Emily Tipping

Keeping Your Waterfront Clean

Your shorelines and waterways are an invaluable resource. They provide recreation and revenue in ways that other facilities cannot. They also require care and forethought in ways that other venues don't.

We guide you through the choppy waters with some tips on how to keep your shorelines pristine and user-friendly.

Q: Are there any design issues I should be concerned about?

A: Take the necessary steps to ensure there are enough public-access points to the waterfront. This is extremely important because development plans often leave them out. Consider developing ordinances that make public access a part of any new development design. Also be sure that access promotes universal accessibility.

Q: Our shoreline is a popular fishing spot. What can we do to better accommodate our fishermen?

A: Consider having fishermen-friendly amenities like bait vending machines and on-site tackle shops. If your park only has daytime hours, consider loosening them for anglers. Dawn and dusk are not only more comfortable for fishermen, they're also the best times to actually reel in a big one. Progressive parks and campsites also boast fish-cleaning stations, which offer an easy, sanitary way for anglers to take care of their catches.

Q: How do these stations work?

A: Fishermen love these tables because they're the cleanest, safest, fastest and most efficient way to prepare fish and game, then dispose of the waste in a sanitary manner. Other park patrons appreciate the stations—even if they don't realize it—because the tables keep away the odors and bloody waste that often sully hunting and fishing locales.

Cleaning stations located near boat ramps and campsites reduce the chance of fish and game being cleaned in inappropriate places such as restrooms. The stations typically are made of stainless steel with poly cutting boards. Each station is equipped with a heavy-duty garbage disposal, so the ground-up waste is deposited directly into the sewage system. This quickly removes the waste—and its odor—from the park site.

Units can accommodate multiple users at a time as well as offer ADA accessibility. They also can be a snap to install at waterfront locales since they arrive on-site, factory-wired, plumbed and assembled.

Q: We have a major litter problem on our shorelines. What can we do to combat it?

A: Having an ample supply of trash receptacles is the most important step in reducing litter. People are more likely to dispose of garbage properly when trash cans are in sight and easy to reach. With the various styles and colors available today, it won't be difficult to find one that blends into your shoreline. Make sure they're large enough to fit your emptying schedule. If they're too small, either your staff will be doing double duty or the garbage will be flying all over the shore—which is not only unsightly but can endanger wildlife.

Q: What can I do to prevent shoreline erosion?

A: The first step is to hold back on the hardscaping, the penchant for covering banks with concrete or rip-wrapping. It's not only unnecessary most of the time, it also causes runoff and harms the environment. Occasionally there are times when hardscaping is warranted, such as serious erosion at a river bend. But, for many other cases, the problem can be remedied by simply declaring a "no wake" zone.

Other bank-stabilizing options include planting hardy native materials or water-thirsty willow trees. These solutions not only help stabilize the soil, but also draw wildlife and birds. In beautifying an area already suited for recreation, you make your shoreline even more inviting.


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