Courtesy of North Carolina Coastal Federation
For decades, the typical response to control erosion on North Carolina’s estuarine shorelines has been to build bulkheads or place stone riprap along problem areas. This shoreline hardening and loss of vegetated buffers degrade fish and shellfish habitats and reduce areas that absorb stormwater runoff. The consequences of shoreline hardening become more severe as sea levels rise. Additionally, the spread of an invasive wetland plant species, Phragmites australis (common reed), could disrupt the ecology of our fringing shoreline wetlands as it outcompetes natural marsh vegetation.
Living shorelines, a series of techniques that reduce the impact of waves through the use of more natural approaches such as restoring salt marsh and oysters, offer an effective and environmentally friendly solution to shoreline erosion. However, outdated laws and rules, lack of consumer demand and too few specialized contractors have prevented living shorelines from being widely used. We’re changing that.
The federation will work to make living shorelines the go-to erosion control approach in the following ways:
Promote the use of living shorelines at suitable locations.
Partner with schools, contractors, businesses, private property owners and federal, state and local governments to build 4,525 linear feet of living shorelines to demonstrate their utility.
Increase public awareness and work on regulatory reform so that consumer demand creates a vibrant market for contractors to build living shorelines.
Provide coastwide trainings on living shorelines for contractors, design professionals and state agency staff.
Promote the adoption of a coordinated coastwide strategy to manage the spread of Phragmites.
Click here to read about how living shorelines work and the many benefits of natural shoreline stabilization.