Living Shorelines

One of the most significant problems facing landowners along Maryland’s coastal environment is shore erosion – a natural, yet unrelenting process. Through the years, landowners have tried many tactics to protect their property including informal dumping of recycled concrete materials and old tires to more traditional erosion control techniques such as groins, bulkheading and riprap revetments. Unfortunately, these approaches have a number of problems, ranging from obvious visual impacts to the elimination of valuable fringing wetlands and sand beaches that help improve water quality and support wildlife.

However, in recent years landowners have increasingly turned to a “living shorelines” approach to control erosion and provide critical habitat through strategic placement of marsh plants, stone, and sand. During the mid 1980s “soft” shoreline stabilization alternatives were referred to as “nonstructural shore erosion control” which incorporated many elements of today’s “living shorelines” techniques. Some emerging practices place even greater emphasis on habitat creation and less on erosion control. Living shoreline treatments are designed with the intention of maintaining or minimally disrupting normal coastal processes, such as sediment movement along the shoreline and protection and restoration of wetlands.

To create or restore coastal wetlands and beach strand habitat, an assortment of structures have been successfully used, such as sills and headland breakwaters like those installed here at Jefferson Patterson Park & Museum.  Check out the 4 sites below to see what JPPM is doing to help protect the shoreline.



Planter Breakwaters



Pocket Beach