If you live in the Piedmont region of Georgia and long for your lake to have the perfect clarity of a clear mountain stream, you're likely to be disappointed.
Fish are low in fat, high in protein, and rich in beneficial oils and minerals, and can be an important part of a healthy diet. If you live in an urban watershed, however, you may question whether fish caught in your local waters are safe to eat.
The USGA (United States Golf Association) Green Section recently published an article advocating the use of vegetated buffers for golf course water features (Fore the Golfer, June 3, 2011). As the article points out, golfers have traditionally preferred the look of closely mown grass all the way to water’s edge, but turf grass management professionals now recognize that there are economical as well as environmental benefits to allowing vegetation in the buffer area.
Even within non-golf communities, we have encountered people who prefer a “clean,” mowed-to-the-edge look for their neighborhood pond, but a well-designed and properly maintained vegetated buffer comprising native species actually can be very attractive. A vegetated buffer is simply an area directly adjacent to a water body in which plants are allowed to flourish. A buffer may include a variety of aquatic, herbaceous, shrub and tree species; native species are always the best choice. Just as important as offering an appealing natural look, vegetated buffers provide many benefits for the water body and the ecosystem:
- Reduction of runoff (less sediment, pesticide and/or pollutants entering the water)
- Potential reduction in algae blooms (excess nutrients from runoff can contribute to the conditions under which blooms occur)
- Stabilization of soil by plant root systems
- Reduction in shoreline/bank erosion
- Wildlife and fish habitat
All of these benefits can reduce maintenance costs over the long term by preventing or slowing some of the most common problems faced by urban lakes and ponds. The recognition of the value and function of vegetated buffers by golf course and turf grass management professionals represents an important turn. As more courses adopt this approach, public perception of what makes a water feature visually appealing should evolve as well.