Hurricane Florence damaged many docks along the coast. The soil behind some bulkheads was also scoured out and many of these hard structures failed. Living shorelines on the other hand weathered the storm, outperforming more traditional shoreline management techniques like bulkheads.  

Living shorelines include planted salt marsh grasses and low profile sills or marsh toe revetments. They reduce erosion and maintain the natural slope of the land which helps absorb waves as they roll up the shoreline.  

The North Carolina Coastal Federation has installed many living shorelines up and down the coast and was pleased to discover how well they held up to powerful Hurricane Florence.

“Their performance is a real testimony to the value and integrity of living shoreline approaches that more naturally protect shorelines from erosion,” said Dr. Lexia Weaver, coastal scientist with the federation.

“In addition to outperforming bulkheads, living shorelines have proven to be a longer-term, less-expensive option for waterfront property owners,” said Weaver. “That is why we are promoting their use, especially now, as property owners begin to repair their damaged shorelines. Our message is loud and clear, install a living shoreline for long lasting and effective shoreline management.”

Living shorelines often use recycled oyster shells and native marsh plants that filter and improve water quality, provide habitat for fish and wildlife and buffer the shore from changing water levels. The federation has been installing living shoreline projects on private and public properties for nearly 20 years.

Don’t just take Dr. Weaver’s word for it, check out this slide show documenting the resiliency of living shorelines including photos of bulkhead damage due to Hurricane Florence and some of the federation’s living shoreline projects before and after the storm:

Did your bulkhead fail? Are you looking for an effective way to protect your shoreline? Check out the list of contractors and engineers who have been trained to install living shorelines in your region.

Northeast Coast Contractors
Northeast Coast Engineers
Central Coast Contractors
Southeast Coast Contractors

For more information on living shorelines visit nccoast.org/livingshorelines, the Living Shorelines Academy or contact Rachel Bisesi at 252-393-8185 or rachelb@nccoast.org.