Property Owner’s Guide to Protecting Your Bluff

This guide will explain best practices that property owners can use to take care of their bluffs, including bluff top and toe protection, informed site usage, proper water drainage and stabilizing vegetation. The guide features a “top-down” approach to protecting coastal properties that takes into account the processes that can affect coastal bluff erosion. Starting at the top of a bluff or bank, proper management of land use, water, and vegetation can help slow erosion of the coast. Working down the bluff, water and vegetation management are still important and stabilization of the slope may be necessary if bluff collapse is of concern. At the water line, shore protection should be carefully considered due to cost and potential impacts to neighboring properties and used only if absolutely necessary to protect a property.

This publication is expected to be completed in Summer 2021. As this publication is being finalized, interim products and presentations from this guide are provided below.

Selecting Suitable Vegetation for Enhancing Lake Michigan Coastal Bluff Stability in Southeastern Wisconsin
This document provides a list of vegetation species that are generally suitable for enhancing stability of Lake Michigan bluffs. For each species listed, a set of stability, site use and plant growth characteristics are listed to help identify species suitable to a specific property.

When Your Home Is At Imminent Risk To Bluff Failure
This fact sheet will help homeowners understand when their homes are at imminent risk of bluff failure, what to do about it, and where to get more information.

Relocating Buildings Threatened by Great Lakes Erosion and Bluff Failure
This blog post describes the process of relocating at-risk buildings away from failing bluffs and includes a case study from Sheboygan County, WI.

Coastal Hazards, Adaptation Options, and Educational Resources
A presentation which describes the “top-down” approach to protecting coastal properties feature in the guide.



Other Related Resources

Adapting to a Changing Coast – Options and Resources for Lake Michigan Property Owners – Publication with 16 options across 5 themes to help coastal property owners adapt to changing water levels and storms on Lake Michigan

Adapting to a Changing Coast – Options and Resources for Local Officials in Southeastern Wisconsin Coastal Communities – Publication with 28 options across 4 themes to help local government officials address changing water levels and storms on Lake Michigan

Living on the Coast – Booklet describing natural coastal processes and strategies to manage risk to coastal properties

Placing Erosion Control Structures on Great Lakes – Website with information on requirements and considerations for shore protection projects in Wisconsin

Stabilizing Coastal Slopes on the Great Lakes – Fact sheet describing shoreline erosion and slope instability

Working with Engineers and Contractors on Shore Protection Projects – Fact sheet describing the process of finding and working with qualified coastal professional

Great Lakes Shore Protections Structures and Their Effects on Coastal Processes – Fact sheet describing shore protection structures and their effects, both positive and negative, on the shoreline