This living shoreline project is one component of a larger effort to reduce shoreline erosion and sedimentation while creating critical habitat for a wide variety of estuarine species.
One of the most significant problems facing landowners along Maryland’s coastal environment is shore erosion – a natural, yet unrelenting process. Through the years, landowners have tried many tactics to protect their property including informal dumping of recycled concrete materials and old tires to more traditional erosion control techniques such as groins, bulkheading and riprap revetments. Unfortunately, these approaches have a number of problems, ranging from obvious visual impacts to the elimination of valuable fringing wetlands and sand beaches that help improve water quality and support wildlife.
However, in recent years landowners have increasingly turned to a “living shorelines” approach to control erosion and provide critical habitat through strategic placement of marsh plants, stone, and sand. During the mid 1980s “soft” shoreline stabilization alternatives were referred to as “nonstructural shore erosion control” which incorporated many elements of today’s “living shorelines” techniques. Some emerging practices place even greater emphasis on habitat creation and less on erosion control. Living shoreline treatments are designed with the intention of maintaining or minimally disrupting normal coastal processes, such as sediment movement along the shoreline and protection and restoration of wetlands. (Jefferson Patterson – web page)
This project created approximately 6,000 square feet of tidal wetlands and 250 linear feet of shoreline stabilization at Arlington Echo Outdoor Education Center on the Severn River. The current shoreline has 250 linear feet of deteriorating pressure treated wood bulkhead. By removing the existing bulkhead, and stabilizing an area 25 feet from the shoreline a wetland was created. Toe boulders were placed below the mean low water elevation and biologs were planted to create a natural looking marsh. Planting wetland grasses further stabilized the area. The shoreline was planted with native shrubs. This project improved water quality, provides fish and wildlife habitat and functions as a demonstration site for waterfront landowners.