Living Shorelines Work


Dear Editor:

In the past, shoreline stabilization strategies generally deployed stone revetments or wood bulkheads. While these strategies appear effective at shore stabilization, they often create an undesirable disconnect between the upland and the water.

In the past 30 years, a more natural approach to shore stabilization, termed “living shorelines,” has emerged using marshes, beaches, and dunes more effectively to protect shorelines.

In 2006, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality’s Coastal Zone Management Program held a Living Shoreline Summit, to promote the use of this shore management strategy. As a result, funding was provided to develop living shoreline design guidance for shore protection.

One of several endangered places along the Chesapeake Bay watershed is Smith Island, the last inhabited island in Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay without any land connection to the mainland.

The Delmarva Resource Conservation and Development and Somerset County, Md., in association with Coastline Design PC, are saving Smith Island, Md., through the application of Living Shoreline Design Guidelines, using headland control.

Headland control is the application of breakwaters installed along the shoreline to control and create headlands. This process allows shoreline areas to erode in a controlled fashion that eventually stops erosion by creating stable embayments as shown in the photo above.

As discussed in my previous Op-Ed column (, breakwaters facilitate the accretion of new reinforced beachfront that seawalls cannot.

Scott Hardaway, of Coastline Design PC, says, “We have abated shoreline erosion on Smith Island through the Living Shoreline Design process, and I think we have abated it for 15-20 or maybe even more years.”

Gary L. Morgan
Retired DoD Science & Technology Executive
[email protected]
C. Scott Hardaway
Virginia Institute of Marine Science
[email protected]

Previous articleCounty Employee Bonuses Should Go to Citizens
Next articleANEC Power Outage Leads to Information Outage