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Living Shoreline Program Restores Chesapeake Bay Shorelines In Maryland & Virginia

| September 02, 2012, 02:22 PM | 1 Comment

On Thursday, the Chesapeake Bay Trust, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the Maryland Department of the Environment announced more than $800,000 in federal, state, and private funding for the creation of “living shorelines,” an innovative technique that combines habitat restoration with erosion control protection for coastal landowners.

“The Chesapeake Bay is an integral part of who we are as Marylanders – our heritage, our economy and our culture,” Senator Barbara Mikulski said.  “I’m proud to fight for the health of the Bay and to support the lives and livelihoods of those who rely on it.  Through the Living Shorelines program, we will help communities improve their infrastructure and preserve the Bay for generations to come.”

In total, 16 homeowner associations, nonprofit organizations, and municipalities were selected to participate in this program, a collaborative multi-state effort designed to encourage the installation and understanding of “living shorelines” throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed.  “Living shorelines” are a shoreline stabilization technique that uses natural habitat elements, instead of bulkhead or riprap, to protect shorelines from erosion while also providing critical habitat for fish, crabs, and other wildlife.  Awareness and use of the living shoreline practice, partly as a result of this funding collaborative’s success, has blossomed nation-wide.

“In order to fully restore our great Chesapeake Bay, we are going to have to employ a multitude of techniques, including the creation of living shorelines,” said Senator Ben Cardin, a longtime supporter of Chesapeake Bay restoration efforts. “Living shorelines not only provide ecological gains for Bay wildlife and improve water quality, but they also benefit property owners by stabilizing shorelines to limit erosion.”

The Trust’s Living Shoreline program, now in its seventh year, has awarded more than $4 million and leveraged $7 million in matching funds from landowners throughout Maryland and Virginia.  This high leverage rate can be explained by the fact that these types of projects truly help landowners through their dual-purpose nature – erosion control and habitat benefits.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration was one of the founding partners of this innovative program which to date, has funded 68 on-the-ground projects in local communities that have created 28,000 linear feet of living shoreline and 18 acres of wetland habitat. Today’s announcement of more than $800,000 marks the largest amount ever awarded to support this ground-breaking restoration technique, and celebrates the newest partner in the funding collaborative, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. NOAA and the Trust each contributed $275,000 in funding; the Maryland Department of the Environment contributed roughly $200,000; and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources contributed $50,000.

“We are working hard to ensure that Maryland meets its Chesapeake Bay restoration goals, and we are right on track,” said Lt. Governor Anthony G. Brown.  “I am pleased to see so many great organizations taking the initiative to implement techniques like living shorelines. These programs allow us to educate our communities about restoration efforts, while at the same time providing tangible benefits to the environment.”

“Living shorelines represent a win-win solution to shoreline erosion issues,” said Eric Schwaab, assistant administrator for fisheries at NOAA. “They replace hardened structures and bulkheads—which often increase erosion—with more natural, vegetated shorelines that not only prevent erosion and protect shorelines, but also provide habitat for fish and other wildlife.”

Today’s event was held at the site of three neighboring homeowners who worked together to remove bulkheads and build a contiguous living shoreline on their properties. During the gathering, experts also provided information to educate area residents on how they can create their own living shorelines and what living shorelines mean for private residential property.

“With so much Chesapeake Bay shoreline privately owned, it is important to educate residents about the benefits of living shorelines and how they can use these kinds of ‘green’ techniques on their own properties,” said Dr. Jana Davis, executive director of the Chesapeake Bay Trust. “Projects like the 16 we are funding here today provide excellent examples of how living shorelines work, how neighbors can work together to build them, and what kinds of amazing ecological benefits they accomplish.”

Living Shoreline grant recipients include:


  • Annapolis Cove Property Owners Association, Anne Arundel County, $40,000
  • Baltimore County Department of Recreation & Parks, Baltimore County, $13,336
  • Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, Talbot County, $60,000
  • Chester River Association, Queen Anne’s County, $99,000
  • Magothy Beach Improvement Association, Anne Arundel County, $100,000
  • North East Isles, Cecil County, $100,000
  • Severn Riverkeeper Program, Anne Arundel County, $18,784
  • Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, Anne Arundel County, $41,931
  • South River FederationAnne Arundel County, $12,880
  • St. Mary’s College of Maryland, St. Mary’s County, $16,500
  • The Gunston School, Queen Anne’s County, $100,000
  • West/Rhode Riverkeeper, Anne Arundel County, $39,850


  • City of Norfolk, VA, Norfolk, VA, $134,082
  • Friends of Norfolk’s Environment, Norfolk, VA, $5,894
  • Northern Virginia Regional Commission, Prince William County, Virginia, $16,500
  • The Landings at Bolling Square Community Association, Norfolk, VA, $11,212

For more information on the Chesapeake Bay Trust’s Living Shoreline Program visit  For complete descriptions of these grant projects or photos from the event, email [email protected].

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