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Four Living Shoreline Projects Enhance Climate Resilience in Anne Arundel County

Projects funded through the Department of Natural Resource’s ‘Resiliency Through Restoration’ Initiative

Photo of beach with new plantings

Deale Beach living shoreline, photo by Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) recently helped complete four living shoreline projects in Anne Arundel County that are designed to protect communities from erosion and flooding. These projects represent small and large scale restoration efforts through the department’s Resiliency through Restoration Initiative

“Living shorelines are vital for coastal communities grappling with the short- and long-term challenges of climate change and associated erosion,” said Maryland Department of Natural Resources Secretary Josh Kurtz. “Projects such as these demonstrate the effectiveness of nature-based solutions and provide lasting environmental benefits for every Marylander.”

DNR partnered with Arundel Rivers Federation to design and construct two shoreline projects benefiting state and county parks. Projects were completed in June 2023.

Living shorelines use natural elements–such as vegetation, sand and rocks–in contrast to traditional hardened bulkheads. This allows the shorelines to provide habitat for fish and wildlife and improves water quality. 

These dynamic shorelines can also adjust to changing conditions, continuing to provide benefits despite impacts from storms and sea level rise. Studies have shown that, in addition to their benefits for habitat areas, water quality, and healthy soil, living shorelines can be more resilient than traditional hardened shorelines that can require more maintenance.

A 1,060 linear foot living shoreline was constructed along the wooded peninsula of Franklin Point State Park to address extensive erosion and provide coastal protection benefits to the adjacent community of Shady Side. Prior to restoration, the shoreline was eroding four to eight feet each year. Erosion accelerated following Hurricane Isabel in 2003, which resulted in 20 to 30 feet of shoreline erosion along the park’s 30-acre wooded peninsula. DNR provided about $1.2 million and the Maryland Department of Environment contributed an additional $200,000 to Arundel Rivers to install the living shoreline.

Erosion and high tide flooding also impacted direct access to the county-owned Mayo Beach Park. Arundel Rivers Federation worked with community partners to design and implement a 600 linear foot living shoreline along Honeysuckle Drive in the community of Mayo. DNR provided about $570,000 to help Arundel Rivers complete the project.

“Living shorelines are like living classrooms,” said Arundel Rivers Federation Executive Director Matt Johnston. “Living shorelines give us the opportunity to connect kids and communities to their waters and the broader Chesapeake Bay restoration effort. At sites like this, volunteers get their hands dirty planting thousands of marsh grasses and get their feet wet wading into the shallows among schools of baitfish and horseshoe crabs.”

The initiative also supported the replacement of hardened infrastructure with living shorelines at community demonstration sites.

The National Wildlife Federation partnered with Longview on the Magothy Civic Association to address a dilapidated community bulkhead and demonstrate small-scale community resilience in Arnold. Partners replaced the deteriorated bulkhead with a 175 linear foot living shoreline along the Magothy River. DNR contributed about $360,000 in funding to support the project, which was completed in September 2023.

The Deale Beach Citizens Association constructed a 175 linear foot living shoreline to replace a stone wall that was installed following 120 feet of erosion and storm impacts in the 1930s. The project was designed to re-establish habitat connectivity and increase the ability of the site to adjust to dynamic environmental conditions. Community leaders are harnessing this small nature-based project to raise community awareness about climate change impacts and catalyze adaptation actions across the community. 

The Department’s Grants Gateway application is currently open for local governments and organizations to apply for living shoreline design and construction to help communities address erosion, flooding, and sea level rise impacts. Proposals are due December 14, 2023 for fiscal year 2025.