OCEAN, NC — This spring, the North Carolina Coastal Federation partnered with Carteret Community College, the Town of Oriental, Carteret County, the Town of Pine Knoll Shores, community volunteers, students and contractors to complete several large-scale living shoreline projects in Carteret and Pamlico counties. Over 100,000 salt marsh and wetland grasses were planted, including smooth cordgrass, saltmeadow hay, black needlerush, bitter panicum and sea oats. The plants, purchased from Garner’s Landscaping & The Plant Stand, Inc., Lumber River Native Plants and Coastal Transplants, LLC, will help to reduce shoreline erosion, improve coastal water quality, and provide valuable habitat for wildlife.

“These living shoreline projects demonstrate effective, resilient, affordable, and environmentally friendly shoreline stabilization approaches that should be considered before installing a bulkhead or seawall,” said federation Coastal Scientist, Dr. Lexia Weaver.

Below is an overview of the recent plantings:

Carteret Community College

With coordination support from Carteret Community College and Ryan Mroch, a Boy Scout from Troop 446 and Sea Scout Ship 7730, over 26,000 plugs of smooth cordgrass and saltmeadow hay were planted by 114 volunteers along the College’s Bogue Sound shoreline in Morehead City throughout one week in May. The plantings, along with the 1,250 ft. rock sill built by T.A. Loving earlier this year, will help to stabilize the shoreline in front of campus by reducing the effects of waves. 

Students from Morehead City Middle School and Teacher’s Pet participated in the plantings, as well as staff from Carteret Community College, Parker Offshore, LLC, and Big Rock Sports, LLC. Additionally, several local Scouts, members from Unitarian Coastal Fellowship in Morehead City and other community volunteers joined in on the effort. The project was supported by funds from the Golden LEAF Foundation, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Emergency Coastal Resilience Fund, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the N.C. Community College System.

Whittaker Pointe, Oriental

Through a partnership between the federation and the Town of Oriental, 6,200 additional marsh grasses were planted by Restoration Systems, LLC in May. The grasses were planted landward of a 3,060 ft. rock and oyster shell bag sill designed byQuible & Associates, P.C. with structural engineering support from Gary Greene Engineers, and constructed by Carolina Marine Structures.The Whittaker Pointe peninsula serves as the primary defense for almost 300 town buildings, businesses and residences against waves and surge from the Neuse River during storms and routine high wind events. The purpose of this new living shoreline is to protect the peninsula from future storm damage and restore lost marsh habitat. Funding for this project came from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation National Coastal Resilience Fund, the Gold LEAF Foundation, N.C. Department of Environmental Quality and the United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service Emergency Watershed Protection Program.

White Point, Atlantic Harbor

In Atlantic Harbor, 70,198 grasses were planted landward of a 1,720 ft. living shoreline made of granite rock and wave attenuators. This living shoreline was constructed in conjunction with the dredging of the Harbor entrance channel by Carteret County. In addition to the shoreline stabilization, fisheries habitat and water quality benefits, the living shoreline also prevents the dredge spoil material on White Point from entering the entrance channel to Atlantic Harbor, which has been a significant navigation issue for the past 20 years. Fishing boats are now able to enter and exit the Harbor without as many water depth issues, allowing this small fishing community to thrive economically. This project was made possible through funding from the N.C. Department of Justice Environmental Enhancement Grant Program and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation National Coastal Resilience Fund.

Pine Knoll Shores

In early May, members from Conservation Corps N.C. worked alongside federation staff to plant 2,800 plugs of smooth cordgrass along the shoreline at the Pine Knoll Shores Town Hall. These plantings occurred landward of a 460 ft. oyster reef built by Restoration Systems, LLC. using bags of recycled oyster shells. This project was a partnership between the federation and the Town of Pine Knoll Shores and was supported by the N.C. Department of Justice Environmental Enhancement Grant Program and the N.C. Land and Water Fund.

Private Shorelines

In addition to these large-scale living shorelines, several plantings also took place along private shorelines by local contractors and federation staff. On World Oceans Day (June 8), 2,000 grasses were planted with the Ocean Club Community in Indian Beach in partnership with the Pine Knoll Shores Aquarium.