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Division of Land Use Regulation
State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection

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Bank Stabilization

  • Overview
  • Freshwater Wetlands
  • Flood Hazard
  • Coastal
  • Tidelands

Bank stabilization projects concern the stabilization of embankments along tidal and non-tidal watercourses such as streams, rivers, ponds and lakes. Sometimes, due to human and non-human causes, an embankment suffers erosion and/or instability. Left unchecked, it may eventually stabilize, but this could result in large amounts of sediment being introduced into the environment and potential hazards to life and property. In cases such as these, a bank stabilization project is designed to modify the embankments in order to stabilize it.

Bank stabilization, may result in disturbances to “special areas” regulated by the Department and may require multiple permits from the Division of Land Use Regulation prior to site preparation or construction. The presence or absence of special areas can be rudimentarily determined using the Department’s online mapping service, NJ-GeoWeb.  Special areas within your project site may also affect the type of authorization required.  An area containing sensitive and endangered plant species for example, may be irreparably damaged by such activities. Therefore, it is important to closely examine a proposed project relative to the sensitive areas which may be impacted. 

The above tabs provide additional information on permit requirements relating to bank stabilization projects.  For impacts to streams, rivers, lakes, ponds, flood plains, flood ways, riparian zones, please see the "Flood Hazard" tab. For impacts to special coastal areas, please see the "Coastal" tab. For impacts to Freshwater Wetlands, see the "Freshwater Wetlands" tab.  Information on Tidelands can be found by selecting the "Tidelands" tab.

Bank stabilization within freshwater wetlands, transition areas, and/or State open waters requires a Freshwater Wetlands (FWW) permit.

A FWW General Permit 20 -- Bank stabilization) is available for this type of activity. To be eligible for a GP20, the total length of bank stabilization proposed can be no more than 150 feet of riprap or [gabion baskets] OR no more than 300 feet of soil-bioengineering (i.e. a combination of hard armoring and vegetative methods). There is no length limit for a project that will consist only of vegetative planting measures.

If the bank stabilization project cannot comply with the criteria for a GP20, the applicant would need to apply for an Individual Permit (IP). An IP application would need to include a description as to why the project cannot be minimized to satisfy the General Permit criteria described under the GP20 link above.

Definitions: Rip-rap: a foundation or sustaining wall of stones or chunks of concrete thrown together without order on an embankment slope to prevent erosion

Gabion baskets: a basket or cage filled with earth or rocks placed along an embankment slope to prevent erosion

The only potential qualifying Permit by Rule (PBR) associated with streambank stabilization is found in N.J.A.C. 7:13-7.2(a)5, which is for the use of machinery to remove a major obstruction from a regulated water.  Please note, this PBR does not authorize the disturbance of trees within the riparian zone nor does it authorize the removal of accumulate sediment from a regulated water.

The only potential qualifying general permit associated with streambank stabilization is a Flood Hazard Area General Permit No. 2A, for agricultural activities only.

All other activities that do not qualify for a PBR or general permit must apply for a Flood Hazard Area Individual Permit.  It is important to note, streams are dynamic in nature and as such, any proposed design should be based on stressors that are watershed based, not local.  Vegetation measures are preferred over hard armoring

Bank and/or shoreline stabilization activities are conducted to protect eroding shorelines from experiencing further erosion. Within coastal areas these activities generally require a permit. The current regulations do not provide any exemptions or Permits-by–rule for bank and/or shoreline stabilization activities. However, if the proposed project consists of bulkhead construction, the “Bulkheads” webpage on this website should be consulted.

The “Jurisdiction” tab of the “Coastal Areas” section of this website provides information regarding which areas are regulated pursuant to the Coastal Zone Management rules at N.J.A.C. 7:7 occur on your site. The availability of certain permits depends on the location of the proposed project.

If the project does not qualify for one of the General Permits described below, a CAFRA, Coastal Wetlands, and/or Waterfront Development Individual Permit may be required.

Potentially applicable General Permits (GPs):

GP7 – Authorizes construction of a revetment at a single family home or duplex lot

GP8 – Authorizes construction of gabions at a single family or duplex lot

GP17 – Authorizes the stabilization of eroded shorelines

GP24 – Authorizes habitat creation, restoration, enhancement and living shoreline activities

Please contact the Division’s Technical Support Center at (609) 777-0454 should you require further assistance.

Tidelands, also known as riparian lands, are all those lands now or formerly flowed by the mean high tide of a natural waterway; that is to say any land that is currently or was previously covered by tidal waters. The State of New Jersey, and therefore the people of New Jersey, owns all Tidelands except for those to which it has already sold its interest in the form of a riparian grant. It is important to note that the State generally does not own artificial waterways such as lagoons however, the State does claim those lands within a lagoon that were flowed by the mean high tide of a natural waterway which existed prior to the creation of the lagoon.

Bank Stabilization that is proposed in a tidelands area may require a tidelands license if the activities are taking place at or below the mean high water line of a tidal waterway or a tidelands grant if the activities are taking place in an area that is currently landward of the mean high water line but was, at some point, flowed by the tide.

A tidelands license is a short term revocable rental document to use tidelands generally for structures such as docks, bulkhead extensions, mooring piles, and other temporary structures as well as for dredging projects. Licenses are project specific and expire after a finite term ranging from one to ten years. Most licenses may be renewed.

A riparian grant, or tidelands grant, is a deed from the State of New Jersey selling its tidelands. Tidelands grants are generally only issued for lands that have already been filled in and are no longer flowed by the tide.

For more information on tidelands instruments, please see the tidelands section of this website.

For information and instruction on how to determine whether you are in an area that may require either a license or a grant, or for information how to apply for Tideland instruments please see the "Before you Build, Before you Buy" webpage.

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Last Updated: July 6, 2015