The natural shorelines of our local rivers have been largely replaced with stone rip-rap walls and wooden bulkheads to protect property from eroding away from waves by storms and power boats.
These walls offer almost no habitat for aquatic life and reflect the wave energy, making erosion worse for nearby neighbors. They also offer no flood absorption. The small beaches, downed trees, and shoreline grasses that dot a natural shoreline provide protection from predators, and nursery habitat for many species, like fish, terrapins, muskrats, and horseshoe crabs.
The walls act to disconnect the land from the water, and many species, like turtles and muskrats, require a gradual transition to shore.
To the extent possible, the Federation wants to replace stone rip-rap walls and wooden bulkheads with natural “living shoreline”. These projects are a natural alternative to fully armoring a shoreline. They provide shoreline stabilization and erosion control by strategically placing stones to work with wave energy on the rivers and creeks.
Living shorelines provide vital habitat for animals, such as terrapins and horseshoe crabs that spend critical phases of their lives at the water’s edge. These living shorelines are stabilized with native shrubs and grasses and also provide important nesting and feeding areas for shorebirds and other wildlife.
There are now a number of grant and low interest loans sources available to property owners and community associations looking to install living shorelines. For instance, MD Dept. of Natural Resources offers a 0% interest loan program for living shorelines.
If you are interested in pursuing a living shoreline for your own property, or for community property, please contact the Federation.