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  Restoration > Living Shorelines > Benefits of a Living Shoreline
 


Benefits of a Living Shoreline:
A Living Shoreline is a constructed salt marsh that provides many benefits to water quality and bay habitat. As a shoreline erosion control measure the Living Shoreline is both beautiful and resilient. The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) has embraced Living Shoreline technology as the prefered method for stabilizing eroding shorelines and protecting the bay. Environmental Concern has worked closely with MDE in establishing guidlines for the appropriate use of this technology.

Water Quality Benefits:

  • The salt marsh filters and traps sediments in stormwater runoff.
  • Wetlands remove nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorous from the water. These pollutants cause algae blooms, eutrophication, and low water oxygen levels.
  • Wetland soil promotes denitrification, a process by which nitrates from fertilizers and animal waste are converted to nitrogen gas and released to the atmosphere.

Habitat Enhancement:

  • The salt marsh is important habitat for many species of fish including commercial and sport fish such as bluefish, striped bass, and white perch.
  • More than half of the commercially useful fish depend on the coastal marshes as spawning beds, hatcheries, nurseries or feeding grounds.
  • 80% of America’s breeding bird populations depend on wetlands.
  • 400 species of protected migratory birds rely on wetlands.
  • 190 species of North American amphibians depend on wetlands.
  • The salt marsh and marsh transition areas are the preferred habitat for high priority bird species in the Mid-Atlantic Region, as defined by the USFWS.

Productivity:

  • The salt marsh is one of the most productive ecosystems on earth. 
  • Marshes efficiently convert sunlight into plant matter, which is the base of the bay food chain.
  • In a created marsh, marsh plants quickly become established approximating natural marshes in aboveground biomass.
  • Salt marshes generate 10 tons organic matter per acre:
    • 2 times the yield of a corn field
    • 6 times the yield of a soybean field
    • 10 times the yield of shallow tidal waters
    • 10 times the yield of a mature forest buffer
    • 30 times the yield of open water

Erosion Control:

  • Marsh vegetation helps reduce turbidity by binding sediment with its roots.
  • Marsh vegetation helps reduce wave action and current.
  • Wave energy from boat wakes dissipates 50% as it passes through the first 10 ft of marsh vegetation

 

Sassafras River Summer 2008
Sassafras River living shoreline one year after completion

 

 

White Egret
Great Egret landing in a salt marsh.

 

 

Wye River Living Shoreline project after 1 growing season
Wye River Living Shoreline project after 1 growing season.

 

 

Living Shoreline on San Domingo Creek
Living Shoreline on San Domingo Creek - 1 year after completion.