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Why Living Shorelines?


New Jersey has over 1,700 miles of ocean and other tidal water coastline. These coastlines are subject to erosion and sea level change and through that to loss  of land, wetlands, habitat, and endangered and threatened species. When properly designed, living shorelines have been proven to be an effective response to these conditions and frequently more beneficial than hard structure responses, such as bulkheads.


For example, Gittman et al. found that areas with more natural shorelines (i.e. marshes and marshes with sills) better protected estuarine shorelines from erosion during Hurricane Irene than bulkheads. In their study, 76% of bulkheads were damaged during the storm, while other shoreline protection types experienced no damage. In addition, Hurricane Irene did not affect marsh surface elevations behind sills or along marsh shorelines without sills. Vegetation density, while initially reduced by the storm, recovered within one year at sites with and without sills. Gittman et al. conclude that “Storm responses suggest that marshes with and without sills are more durable and may protect shorelines from erosion better than the bulkheads in a Category 1 storm.”


See: Gitmann R.K., Popowich A.M., Bruno J.F., and Peterson C.H. 2014. Marshes with and without sills protect estuarine shorelines from erosion better than bulkheads during a Category 1 hurricane. Ocean and Coastal Management. (102)94-102.  




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Last Updated: January 10, 2019