Salt Marsh

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

Marsh Program Goals

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. 

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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. 

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.

Featured Projects

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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.


an image of a group of volunteers using bagged oyster shells to construct a living shoreline
| Fact Sheets
This fact sheet details the definition, purpose, and implementation of living shorelines as a shoreline stabilization tool.
The N.C. Coastal Federation educates teachers as well as students. This group of teachers participated in a science-based seminar at the N.C. Center for the Advancement of Teaching on Ocracoke Island.
| Fact Sheets
This fact sheet details the NC Coastal Federation's living shoreline project at the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching's Ocracoke Campus. The living shoreline was built to protect the property from erosion and is no used as an educational tool in the NCCAT program.
This image shows the NC Coastal Federation's living shoreline, an erosion control project, at Jockey's Ridge State Park. The image looks onto the oyster bag sill that makes up the living shoreline from behind a bed of marsh grass. Beyond the living shoreline the sound and sand dunes can be seen.
| Fact Sheets
This fact sheet details the creation of Jockeys Ridge State Park, the erosion issues that are being faced, and how the NC Coastal Federation's living shoreline project is working to restore and preserve the area.
an image of a group of volunteers using bagged oyster shells to construct a living shoreline
| Fact Sheets
This fact sheet details the NC Coastal Federation's Living Shoreline project on Durant's Point in Hatteras.
Morris Landing Living Shoreline
| Fact Sheets
This fact sheet details the overarching issues in the Stump Sound watershed as well as the degradation to Morris Landing caused by unregulated use. This resource explain how the conservation easement, living shoreline, and on going volunteer work are restoring the area while preserving it for future use.
living shoreline | photo © Vance Miller

Resilient Shorelines

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