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Education: Living Shoreline Design - A class for marine contractors

planted marshAs populations along shorelines grow, shoreline stabilization activity also grows.  Currently, shoreline stabilization permits in Virginia result in impacts to approximately 10 acres of tidal wetland annually, which impedes achievement of the 2010 Chesapeake Bay restoration goals.  The advancing understanding of science, ecology and ecosystem interactions has resulted in the development of shoreline project designs that mimic nature, called “living shorelines”.  These types of designs have less impact on natural ecosystem function than traditional bulkhead and riprap revetment structures.  In “living shoreline” type designs, the shoreline is re-shaped with natural materials to reduce erosion.  Examples of living shoreline components are: beach nourishment, gapped sill systems, bank grading, and marsh planting.

Many property owners have expressed interest in the “living shoreline” approach, but the installation and maintenance of many projects are too complex and labor intensive to install without professional help.  The systems must be properly built to mimic a natural ecosystem or they are not beneficial to the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem.  The Center for Coastal Resources Management, with funding from the Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fund, has developed curriculum for a course to educate shoreline project designers and contractors about the use of “Living shoreline” designs.  The course stresses the reasoning behind the recommended design criteria and the interactions between upland riparian zones, wetlands and the aquatic system – three areas that are functionally integrated and tend to be impacted by shoreline projects.

There are three main objectives of the course; each objective is addressed in one of the three modules below.  The modules together form a complete class and should be viewed in order.  Click on the module name to access the presentation. Advance slides using the control bar at the bottom of the screen.

Module 1 -- Ecosystem Services
Goal: Explain how a living shoreline project can enhance ecosystem function in the Chesapeake Bay, and contrast this with impacts associated with traditional shoreline projects.

Module 2 -- Site suitability
Goal: Determine which types of shoreline projects are suitable for different shoreline types (e.g., sandy vs. marshy shorelines and low- vs. high-energy shorelines).

Module 3 -- Design Criteria
Goal: Learn the design criteria necessary to construct a successful living shoreline project.

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