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Do you know your obstacles?
House in peril
Ice Jam on the Yellowstone River

If you live, or are planning to build, near a stream, river, lake, or wetland, it is important to:

  • Maintain or restore a buffer strip of native plants along riverbanks, lakeshores, and wetlands.
  • Buffer strips help keep water clean and cool and decrease erosion. The best buffers have a high diversity of plants and are fairly wide.  The steeper the slope, the wider the buffer should be.  A minimum of 300’ (as per the Governor’s Room to Roam Initiative) should be used, but if that is not possible, use the largest possible area.  A 200’ to 250’ wide buffer strip is effective at filtering nutrients.  If space is limited, the widest possible buffer will still help trap nutrients and other pollutants.
  • Build upland, away from riparian areas and wetlands.
  • Locate buildings on slopes with less than a 20% grade to prevent erosion. Use exterior colors that blend in with the landscape to be the least visually disturbing.
  • Avoid bright lights on the exterior of your buildings so as not to interfere with nocturnal animals.
  • Minimize your building area and keep shorelines and riverbanks free of permanent structures.
  • Divert rooftop runoff into rain gardens, rain barrels, or other catchment systems, or onto grass so water will be absorbed gradually.
  • Avoid extensive paved areas and other impervious surfaces near water as they may channel polluted water into waterways.
  • Keep pathways to the waterfront as narrow as possible and gently winding so run-off will not have a direct route to the water.
  • Use wood decking, bricks, pervious paving materials, or interlocking stones for walkways, so water is absorbed into the ground.
  • Avoid draining or filling wetlands. They filter pollutants, recharge groundwater, and provide important habitat for birds and other wildlife.
  • Don’t fertilize in buffer areas, and don’t apply fertilizer on your property directly before or after heavy rain or when plants are dormant.
  • Avoid disturbing wildlife travel routes and nesting areas.
  • Use natural herbicides and pesticides (as directed) for lawns and gardens.
  • Avoid washing vehicles in an area that could drain to a water body.
  • Maintain and pump your septic system on average every 3-5 years, depending on use.

Make sure to check to see what, if any, permits you may need.  Potential Permits Required | Living on the Bank

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