Living shorelines that reduce sound-side erosion and provide habitat.
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 However, outdated laws and rules, lack of consumer demand and too few specialized contractors have prevented living shorelines from being widely used.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.