Re-Engineering Living Shorelines for High-Energy Coastal Environments

  • Gabions with wake

    Gabions with wake

  • Loading gabions

    Loading gabions

In estuaries worldwide, the loss of salt marshes and oyster reefs has been alarming, especially along high-energy coastlines. To dampen boak wake and wave stress, mitigate erosion, and restore oysters, managers have been using more natural bank stabilization techniques - referred to as living shorelines - adjacent to salt marsh edges. These efforts have largely been unsuccessful in achieving coastal management goals under the most destructive, high-energy conditions. 

This project is testing the efficacy of a new strategy for protecting coastal habitat in high-energy environments. The experimental study is integrating engineering and ecological approaches by deploying "gabion-breaks," a hybrid method for building living shorelines to protect and restore coastlines. Over the course of the project, the project team is monitoring boat wake and wave energy, oyster reef development, and salt marsh edge movement along reaches of shoreline with and without gabion-breaks to measure their success in protecting and enhancing coastal habitat. The project team will incorporate their findings into training activities for restoration practitioners and coastal managers, as well as interpretive exhibits for reserve visitors.

Project Documents

In October of 2018, the project team hosted a regional workshop to share project results and discuss future directions for research and management. To learn more and view workshop presentations, visit: Edges of Our Estuaries Workshop Summary.