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Living Shoreline Planning and Implementation

Coastal Shoreline Continuum and Typical Shoreline TreatmentsWhen planning a living shorelines project, there are several factors that restoration practitioners need to consider, including the permits and approval involved and the appropriate type of restoration for the habitat type. Here, we list the steps involved in planning and implantation.

  1. Site analysis: Practitioners must determine whether living shoreline stabilization is appropriate in a particular area; this analysis includes an evaluation of the bank erosion rate and elevation, wave energy, prevailing wind and wave direction, vegetation, and soil type. Design of restoration activities is done after the site analysis.
  2. Permit approval and legal compliance: Compliance with all federal, state, and local laws, regulations, and permits for proposed restoration activities must be done prior to implementation.
  3. Site preparation: This begins after appropriate permits are obtained from regulatory agencies. The site is cleared of debris and unstable trees, and failing seawalls and bulkheads can be removed. Any runoff issues should also be identified and addressed prior to material installation.
  4. Installation: Typical living shoreline treatments include planting riparian, marsh, and submerged aquatic vegetation; installing organic materials such as bio-logs and organic fiber mats; and constructing oyster reefs or “living breakwaters” that dissipate wave energy before it reaches the shore.
  5. Post-construction monitoring and maintenance: This includes scientific monitoring of restored habitat to gather information on the success of the project for the purpose of improving the construction and implementation of future efforts. Maintenance activities include debris removal, replanting vegetation, adding additional sand fill, and ensuring that the organic and structural materials remain in place and continue to stabilize the shoreline.

Habitat Zones and Living Shoreline Treatments

Living shorelines use a variety of stabilization and habitat restoration techniques that span several habitat zones and use a variety of materials. View the picture to the left to find suggested living shoreline techniques suitable for various habitat zones.

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  • 1. Upland Buffer / Bankface Zones

  • 2. Coastal Wetlands and Beach Strand Zone

  • 3. Subtidal Water Zone