Salt Marsh

Our Goal: Protect and Restore Salt Marshes to Foster Thriving Human and Natural Coastal Communities

Living Shorelines

North Carolina’s 12,000 miles of estuarine shoreline provide some of the most productive habitats in the world for fish and shellfish.

Unfortunately, the erosion of these shorelines is increasing because of rising sea levels, concentrated waves from boats, more extreme storms, and poorly planned development practices. Erosion control structures like bulkheads are not as effective as living shorelines in protecting shorelines. By installing buffers using salt marshes, oyster reefs, and other natural materials, living shorelines control erosion while protecting the natural beauty and productivity of our estuaries.

The Coastal Federation remains committed to making living shorelines the go-to approach for managing shoreline erosion. We have secured public and private funding that will help us provide increased financial incentives to landowners for living shorelines.


North Carolina Salt Marsh Action Plan

Like most coastal ecosystems, our marshes are threatened. To ensure a healthy future for these critical marsh systems, the Coastal Federation is leading a partnership to develop the North Carolina Salt Marsh Action Plan that details a five-year strategy to protect, restore, and allow for the migration of salt marshes in coastal North Carolina so that their existing ecological, economic, and cultural functions are not degraded or lost. 

The North Carolina Plan is part of a larger South Atlantic Salt Marsh Initiative (SASMI) that was formed in 2021 under the leadership and guidance of The Pew Charitable Trusts and the Southeast Regional Partnership for Planning and Sustainability (SERPPAS). This regional plan prioritizes actions for protecting and restoring nearly 1 million acres of salt marshes along the South Atlantic coast from North Carolina to the Atlantic coast of northern Florida. 

The North Carolina Salt Marsh Plan focuses on our state’s marsh resources and will serve as the foundation of the Coastal Federation’s New Marsh Program Goal to Protect and Restore Salt Marshes to Foster Thriving Human and Natural Coastal Communities. This newly formed Program Goal is kicking off this year and will include our dedicated work to protect and create living shorelines, a focus of the Federation since 1997. 

Marsh Program Goals

Blue Carbon Initiative

While many are familiar with the term “blue carbon”, referring to carbon stored in saltwater ecosystems, the Federation advocates for an inclusive “coastal carbon” strategy that recognizes the interconnectedness of North Carolina’s coastal and forested ecosystems. Beyond traditional blue carbon environments like salt marshes and seagrasses, our commitment extends to preserving and restoring carbon in pocosins, peatlands, and terrestrial working lands (farms and forests) for a comprehensive management approach.

We’ve partnered with Pew Charitable Trusts to establish the North Carolina Coastal Carbon Collaborative, a group of public and private stakeholders working to mitigate climate change in North Carolina, with a particular focus on preserving and increasing coastal carbon.

Drawing inspiration from the successful NC Oyster Blueprint, we are developing a Coastal Carbon Blueprint with the support of the Collaborative. The Blueprint aims to make coastal carbon relevant in NC policy and decision-making, raise awareness of the importance of coastal carbon and the co-benefits of protecting and increasing its stocks, and support coastal projects with such co-benefits.

Resources

Trained Living Shoreline Contractors and Engineers in Your Region
This handout includes our list of contractors and engineers who have been trained to install living shorelines in your region.
The cover of the North Carolina Coastal Federation's Winter 2024 Our Coast Edition
| Our Coast
This edition of the Coastal Federation's Our Coast publication welcomes our new Executive Director, Dr. Braxton Davis as well as introduces the Federation's new Salt Marsh Program. This edition also covers the goals of the 3 other main program areas including water quality, oysters, and marine debris.
The cover of the North Carolina Coastal Federation's Fall 2023 Our Coast Edition
| Our Coast
This edition of the Coastal Federation's Our Coast publication covers the Federation's efforts across all program areas. It also looks forward to 2024 and what the upcoming year holds for the NC Coast.
South Atlantic Salt Marsh Initiative
To ensure a healthy future for these critical marsh systems, the Coastal Federation is leading a partnership to develop the North Carolina Salt Marsh Action Plan that details a five-year strategy to protect, restore, and allow for the migration of salt marshes in coastal North Carolina so that their existing ecological, economic, and cultural functions are not degraded or lost. 
living shoreline projects
| Maps
The North Carolina Coastal Federation has developed a working map of sites along the North Carolina coast where living shorelines have been built. This map features descriptions, photos, funding agencies and more.
living shoreline at new Center
The North Carolina Living Shoreline Steering Committee brings together federal and state agencies, non-governmental organizations and universities to communicate and collaborate on education and outreach, research, and implementation of living shorelines.
The completed Oriental living shoreline
The North Carolina Living Shoreline Steering Committee brings together federal and state agencies, non-governmental organizations and universities to communicate and collaborate on education and outreach, research, and implementation of living shorelines. education and outreach, research, and implementation of living shorelines.
Atlantic White's Point Living Shoreline
This 3-part training series is presented by the N.C. Coastal Reserve & National Estuarine Research Reserve, the North Carolina Coastal Federation and Sea Grant.
Living Shoreline Benefits Video Playlist
Watch this video playlist to learn more about the benefits of living shorelines.
Wanchese Marine Industrial Park Living Shoreline Demonstration
The Federation partnered with the Wanchese Marine Industrial Park to protect 500 feet of shoreline through their living shoreline restoration projects.
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living shoreline | photo © Vance Miller

Resilient Shorelines

You can help make a difference for our coast—one living shoreline at a time!