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I agree with Peter that having natural plants growing on the shoreline is a good way to maintain the integrity of the bank, because excess water will be absorbed by the roots, but you need to be wary of using gabions or rip-rap to line the sides because they tear away at the sand beneath it until you're left with just a wall. Water will pass more quickly through with nothing to erode, and in times of great rainfall, the protection could be flooded.

Instead, placing dead logs perpendicularly along the bank will give you the stability you're looking for, while at the same time allowing the water to come to a meandering pace. Not to mention that fish will congregate in those new habitats created for them below the logs. It's a great natural way to prevent river erosion.