Tidal wetlands are the natural shorelines that give our local waterways their characteristic beauty. Tidal wetlands provide us with important services such as flood control, shoreline erosion control and the natural filtering of pollutants from our waters. They also provide essential fish and wildlife habitats that are important for commercial and recreational fishing, boating, bird-watching and other types of recreation.
We enjoy being on the water, so we understand and respect every waterfront homeowner’s interest in protecting their land from erosion or wanting to have access to the water or a boat. However, we are concerned about shoreline hardening because the cumulative effect of actions taken by individual waterfront homeowners over the years has led to the loss of tidal wetlands and natural buffers around the Lynnhaven.
For this reason, we encourage homeowners, consultants, contractors and landscapers to learn more about living shoreline treatments. In contrast to hard structures such as stone revetments and bulkheads that offer no benefits beyond erosion control and have a limited lifespan, living shoreline treatments perform the dual role of limiting erosion and providing environmental benefits. Living shorelines address erosion by providing long-term protection, restoration or enhancement of vegetated shoreline habitats through grading of the slope and strategic placement of plants, sand fill, stone support and other structural and/or organic materials such as fiber logs. In contrast to hard structures, living shorelines preserve the important natural connections between the marine and upland ecosystems. For this reason, they confer a long lifespan and a greater resiliency to sea level rise.
Living shorelines have become a widely accepted and preferred strategy for tidal shoreline management, but they have been slow to catch on in this area primarily because of a lack of awareness. Living shoreline treatments reflect the best understanding of how shorelines function, and how the benefits they provide can be sustained into the future. The Commonwealth of Virginia has identified living shorelines as the preferred shoreline treatment. In fact, in the coming months, the Commonwealth and the City of Virginia Beach will be offering a simpler, general permit process for living shoreline projects.
In our effort to help educate homeowners in Virginia Beach about more sustainable alternatives for protecting waterfront properties, our Restoration Project Coordinator would be glad to meet with you and provide a free consultation to help you determine what options exist on your property for living shorelines.
The Sandlers have a long history of working with LRNow to manage their shoreline in a way that helps improve water quality in the Lynnhaven River. They have installed oyster castles to prevent shoreline erosion and enhance habitat. They also planted living shorelines and donated river bottom for oyster restoration.
Most recently they enlisted the help of LRNow and Chesapeake Bay Landscape Professional Trista Imrich of Wild Works of Whimsy to design and install a vegetated buffer and wetland area to restore an entire cove to a natural habitat! Volunteers came out to help and learn, including a landscape professional from WPL, local scouts and high school students, and environmental studies students from ODU and the University of Mary Washington.
To learn more about this effort and what you can do to help protect and restore clean and healthy waterways in Virginia Beach, please contact our landscape and shoreline restoration coordinator at Vince@LRNow.org.
SUSTAINABLE YARDS PROGRAM: Let us help you “green” your Lynnhaven watershed home. This unique program provides specific stormwater management practices to your yard at a significantly reduced cost to you.