Do’s and Don’ts for Erosion Control

By Susan Boyd
Shoreline Management Ranger, J. Strom Thurmond Lake

Did you know that silting can reduce the long-term depth of your cove? Silting is a natural process caused by soil erosion. Our shoreline management team is here to help permit holders and adjacent property owners resolve these issues within the laws and regulations that apply. Here’s a list of Do’s and Don’ts for how you can control erosion and prevent silting in your cove.


  1. Reduce the potential for erosion by maintaining vegetated buffers around properties and bodies of water. While grassed lawns may help hold soil in place, trees, shrubs and native herbaceous plants can significantly slow the rate of erosion, as well as benefit native wildlife. (Herbaceous plants are fleshy, herb-like plants, many of which die back during the winter. They can be annuals, biennials or perennials).
  2. If erosion gullies begin to develop, placing natural, woody debris in the gullies can slow the flow of water, subsequently slowing the rate of erosion. On public land, however, only dead, fallen vegetation originating on public land can be placed in gullies and ditches. Woody debris and materials from private land cannot be placed on public land. All material placed in gullies should be placed in such a manner to slow erosion, but not creating a large mound or pile.
  3. Installing waterbars, drains and other diversionary measures on private land can re-direct water away from gullies and dissipate the flow of water, reducing the potential for further erosion and soil loss. Diversionary measures should be placed on private land.
  4. If clearing private land adjacent to waterbodies or public land, utilize silt fences and other erosion control measures, and always obtain the necessary state and local soil erosion control permits for land-disturbing and construction activities.
  5. If soil erosion has already occurred along the shoreline, it is possible to limit the extent of the erosion by stabilizing the existing shoreline. Permits can be obtained from the Corps of Engineers to place rip-rap, natural stone, and/or bioengineered materials along eroded shoreline to stabilize the shoreline and reduce the potential for future erosion.
  6. If silt has accumulated in coves and along the shoreline, adjacent property owners can obtain permits from the Corps of Engineers to excavate the accumulated silt and restore natural depths within the cove.


  1. Don’t place non-natural materials and debris in gullies and ditches. Placing non-natural materials (including treated wood) in gullies can constitute illegal disposal of waste materials and can result in water and soil pollution and contamination as materials decompose.
  2. Don’t plant non-native plants and trees to control erosion. When possible on private land, always try to plant native vegetation. Many non-native plants, including the ornamentals commonly found in gardens and landscaping, can be invasive and can negatively impact natural plant and animal communities. Invasive species often out-compete and choke out native plants and trees. Only native vegetation may be planted on public land and must be approved by the Corps of Engineers.
  3. Don’t clearcut buffers along streams, waterways and waterbodies. Vegetated buffers naturally slow the flow of water and reduce erosion and siltation within waterbodies.
  4. Don’t conduct any shoreline stabilization, excavation or install soil erosion control measures on public land without the appropriate permits and approvals. Always contact your shoreline ranger or nearest Corps office prior to activities on public land. While many options are available for controlling erosion and removing silt from coves, all actions on public land require approval and permits.

For more information regarding shoreline management at Thurmond Lake, please contact the Thurmond Operation Project Manager’s Office toll free at 1-800-533-3478 or email us at For information on Hartwell Lake, please contact the Hartwell Operations Project Manager’s Office toll free at 1-888-893-0678 or email

About U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Savannah District

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Savannah District oversees a multimillion dollar military construction program at 11 Army and Air Force installations in Georgia and North Carolina. We also manage water resources across the Coastal Georgia region, including maintenance dredging of the Savannah and Brunswick harbors; operation of three hydroelectric dams and reservoirs along the upper Savannah River; and administration of an extensive stream and wetland permitting and mitigation program within the state of Georgia. Follow us on Twitter @SavannahCorps and on
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