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Soundfront Property Owners Construct Living Shoreline

Living Shoreline

Wanchese, NCThe North Carolina Coastal Federation is working with soundfront shoreline property owners to install living shorelines that reduce erosion and maintain valuable habitat. In order to encourage estuarine shoreline landowners to install living shorelines, the federation is administering cost-share grant funds from the North Carolina Clean Water Management Trust Fund. The grant allows the federation to pay for up to half the cost, or $5,000.00 (project cap) towards the installation of a living shoreline.

Ed and Sherry Tyer, property owners on Blounts Creek, sought out grant funding from the federation to build their own living shoreline. They were concerned with the steady retreat of their fringing wetland marsh, losing an average of 1 foot per year. They saw this marsh as not only habitat, but as a natural feature helping to protect their property and shoreline.

“Without action, the wetlands will be gone and we’ll be forced to use a bulkhead,” said Ed Tyer. “I envision a better alternative, one where native plant and animal species can flourish.”

After talking with their daughter, who attended a federation seminar on living shorelines, they were intrigued by the idea of a living shoreline.  They wanted to limit shoreline erosion while they restore and preserve their strip of fringing marsh. Living shorelines do just that. They reduce soundside erosion and provide habitat. So, the Tyers contacted the Coastal Federation and their local N.C. Division of Coastal Management office to seek guidance and inquire about grants that might help make their vision a reality.

There are a range of techniques that can be considered to reduce the impact of waves through the use of more natural approaches, such as restoring salt marsh and oysters, offering an effective and environmentally friendly solution to shoreline erosion.

The Tyers are installing a marsh sill- one that places a structure in front of existing marsh and encourages the eroded marsh to fill in with the sill’s protection. They secured their permits from the N.C. Division of Coastal Management and began receiving shipments of rip rap in late May.

In addition to protecting their fringing marsh, the Tyers are using the sill building as an opportunity to engage their family in protecting this important habitat. Over Memorial Day weekend, they hosted their family to help move the beach ball size rock down to the shoreline where they placed it in the water to build the offshore sill. They have a few more days of construction ahead, but they are making great progress towards completion of the living shoreline.

“My family and I are excited to be part of this effort and we hope that what we build can serve as a model for other property owners along the state’s waterways.” Said Tyer.

The federation has awarded multiple landowners with cost-share funds through funding from the N.C. Clean Water Management Trust Fund, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/Southeast Aquatic Resources Partnership and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration. They expect to award additional projects in the next year. Projects are awarded on a first come, first serve basis and must meet minimum requirements for marsh creation or protection. Contact the federation’s Coastal Scientist in your region for more information.

Recently, the N.C. Division of Coastal Management in coordination with other state and federal agencies revised the Coastal Area Management Act (CAMA) General Permit for marsh sills. The amended General Permit now makes the process of obtaining a living shoreline permit quicker and simpler. For more information on the revised General Permit visit  https://www.nccoast.org/project/advocating-living-shorelines/.

The North Carolina Coastal Federation is a nonprofit membership organization that works to keep the coast of North Carolina a great place to live, work and play. Through a variety of programs and partnerships, the federation provides for clean coastal waters and habitats, advocates to protect the coast and teaches and informs people about the coast and what they can do to protect it.
The federation has offices in Ocean, Wanchese and Wrightsville Beach, N.C.
To learn more, please visit nccoast.org or call 252-393-8185.

By Erin Fleckenstein