Shorelines come in many shapes and forms. The process of “restoring” a shoreline is really one of stabilization and revegetation. Typically, shorelines have deteriorated for a reason and usually that reason has to do with people. For example, one of the most common shoreline erosion problems is related to boat wakes. Stabilizing a shoreline subject to consistent boat wakes is not “restoration.” It generally requires the use of rip rap or permanent erosion barrier until and unless the boat wake problem ends.
In other situations shorelines become unstable due to the deterioration of natural habitat, changes in hydrology, or perhaps even due to an unpredictable natural disaster like a flood. For instance, buckthorn will shade out everything underneath it, replacing the fibrous and dense root systems of native grasses with its own shallow roots and allowing erosion to occur. This can be remedied by removing buckthorn and using a biodegradable erosion mat to stabilize the soil while the newly planted native seeds germinate and grow.
There are literally thousands of erosion control products on the market and each one has its own application. There are also systems designed to improve habitat like “lunker boxes.” And there are in-stream systems made in place from stone or wood like J-Hooks and pool/riffle structures. Shoreline restoration can be as simple as seeding and spreading straw. Or it can be much more complicated like the photo at right.