Willow wattles protect shoreline on Lake Ossie in Breezy Point

Project is the latest in local shoreline projects.

willow wattles.jpg
Willow wattles installed on the shore of Lake Ossie in August of 2022 will protect the shoreline from erosion.
Jodi Eberhardt / Contributed
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BREEZY POINT — Gerard and Leslie Bodell purchased their property on Lake Ossawinnamakee in the late 1990s. They have watched the lake change in 30 years from a quiet residential lake to one that is now quite busy.

They have watched their shoreline erode from the powerful wakes from bigger motors and boats. They have also watched their neighbors restore their shorelines and use native plants to defend against the damage.

This year, they decided to take on a project of their own. With the help of the Crow Wing Soil and Water Conservation District, they were connected with Laura Mendoza, a shoreline restoration consultant. Mendoza specializes in a technique that uses willow wattles as a buffer for the waves while the native plants get started.

The end result is a natural shoreline that prevents erosion and helps reduce the amount of excess nutrients going into the lake.

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A willow wattle is a tightly tied bundle of long willow sticks that is staked into the shoreline. They will block the wave action and allow for the water to filter back through the willow to slowly trap the organic matter. It is a better solution than a purchased biolog, which are often moved by storms and do not allow water to pass through the structure. Biologs also take a long time for plant roots to permeate and anchor to the lake bottom.


A permit is not needed to install the willow wattle, but the Department of Natural Resources does require a permit to install plants below water’s edge.

During their project, the Bodells:

  • 1. Laid out the willow and tied them on shore.
  • 2. Moved the whole bundle to the water’s edge, protecting the entire shoreline.
  • 3. Pounded 3-foot stakes into the wattles every 3 feet to keep them in place.
  • 4. Planted deep-rooted native plants behind the wattles to protect the lake from runoff, provide habitat and help protect a lakeshore against wave action.

The project was finished in about four hours with a group of seven people.

There are options available for property owners who wish to protect their shoreline. Contact:

  • Laura Mendoza at 218-429-1739 or on Facebook @greatrootsmne.
  • Crow Wing Soil and Water Conservation District has contact information and resources available. Site visits may be arranged by visiting
  • Visit

The Pine River Watershed Alliance appreciates the Bodell’s efforts to protect water quality and share their story with other landowners.

Jodi Eberhardt is with the Land and Waters Preservation Trust & Pine River Watershed Alliance.

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