Rapid Assessment Tool: Shore Zone Condition and Ecological Function

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Battered by tides, ice, storms, and human activity, nearly half of New York state's Hudson River shoreline has been “armored up ” by structures such as steel bulkheads or rock revetments. While these structures can protect vulnerable infrastructure in high-energy situations, they also disrupt surrounding habitats. In response, the Hudson River Reserve launched the Sustainable Shorelines project, a long-term, collaborative initiative that is advancing understanding of the engineering, economic, and ecological tradeoffs of using different shoreline management options today—and as the climate shifts and sea levels rise—for generations to come.

As part of this project, a team member from the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies developed this tool to provide a rough quantification of site attributes known to affect biota and ecological processes in the shore zone in the tidal freshwater Hudson River. This assessment covers a description of the problem, the physical characteristics, and vegetation cover and composition. An equipment checklist, instructions, and datasheet for collection are included.