Chittenden Park Living Shoreline Project (In progress as of 2021, Guilford, CT): This project will restore 2.5 miles of wetland habitat. This site was selected because the beach and wetlands are currently eroding at a pace of 50 feet per decade. The beach serves as a natural defense for the neighborhood behind it and therefore needs to be restored. The project will include adding two breakwaters, a stone jetty, and three onshore sills. In addition, 32,000 cubic yards of sand will be placed for dune structure and marsh planting will take place.
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Edith Read Living Shoreline Project (In progress as of 2021, Rye, NY): This project will consist of 750 feet of coastline in Rye, NY at the Edith G. Read Natural Park and Wildlife Sanctuary. Much of the upper-region is dominated by invasive vegetation like phragmites and tree-of-heaven and the access road has been damaged from previous storms. The goals of the living shoreline project are to improve resilience to sea level rise, improve water quality, and enhance the habitats for coastal plant and animal species. Restoration efforts will include creating reef balls for oyster populations and the removal of invasive species.
Fenwick Living Shoreline Project (Completed 2020, Old Saybrook, CT): This project consists of 450 feet of coastline. The goal of the project is to mitigate shoreline erosion of the Long Island Sound coastline. There have been previous dune restoration efforts, but almost all have been eroded away in recent years. The mission is to stabilize and slow coastline erosion and prevent a breach in the current barrier spit. To do this, they will be relocating a part of Crab Creek, nourishing and planting on the beach, constructing new rock sills, and placing sand fills.
Mystic River Boathouse Park Living Shoreline Project (In progress as of 2021, Mystic, CT): This project will use a portion of the parks 1.5 acres to control sea level rise. Before a living shoreline can be created at the Mystic River boathouse, contamination from previous industrial uses have to be cleaned. Afterwards, restoration efforts will begin using concrete boxes that will serve as oyster castles. In addition, there will be efforts to restore native plant life, as well as creating a natural marshland area. There will also be a wave energy dissipator to help protect the surrounding neighborhood.
Stratford Point Living Shoreline Project (Completed 2014 with ongoing restoration, Stratford, CT): This project consists of 750 acres of land in Stratford, CT. The goal of the project was to protect the beach from coastal erosion and to help combat sea level rise. The steps consisted of adding a smooth cordgrass marsh, artificial shellfish reefs, high marsh, and a coastal dune area. The site was awarded the “Best Restored Shore Area” from the American Shore and Beach Preservation Association. A second restoration project is expected to begin nearby soon.
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Chittenden Living Shoreline Project: Eroding beach at the proposed site of the living shoreline. Credit: Alex Krofta, Save the Sound.
Chittenden Living Shoreline Project: The Planned Site of the Chittenden Living Shorelines Project. Credit: Alex Krofta, Save the Sound.
Edith G. Read Natural Park and Wildlife Sanctuary: Aerial view of the proposed site of the Edith Read Living Shoreline Project. Credit: Google Earth.
Edith G. Read Natural Park and Wildlife Sanctuary: Plan for Edith G. Read Natural Park and Wildlife Sanctuary. Credit: Westchester County Soil and Water Conservation District.
Fenwick Living Shoreline Project: Rock sills being constructed at the site of the Fenwick Living Shoreline Project. Credit: Julianna Barrett.
Fenwick Living Shoreline Project: Site of the Post-Construction Fenwick Living Shoreline Project. Rock sills are visible in the water on the right side. Smooth cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora) was planted on the left. Matting is placed by the cobble beach, which will eventually be removed. Credit: Juliana Barrett.
Mystic River Living Shoreline Project: The Proposed Site of the Mystic Boathouse Living Shoreline, Prior to Any Construction. Credit: Judy Preston.
Mystic River Living Shoreline Project: Proposed design of the Mystic River Boathouse Living Shoreline Project. Photo taken from video by Stonington Crew.
Stratford Point Living Shoreline Project: Beach area, featuring artificial shellfish reefs and newly planted smooth cordgrass. Credit: Amy Mandelbaum.
Stratford Point Living Shoreline Project: Artificial shellfish reefs at Stratford Point Living Shoreline Project. Credit: Judy Preston.
Living shorelines are a type of green infrastructure made from natural materials that aim to protect the coastline and surrounding areas from the impacts of sea level rise. Research has shown that living shorelines can be just as effective, if not more, at protecting against storm surges as hard coastline infrastructure. Additionally, while infrastructure has been known to decrease biodiversity in the surrounding area, living shorelines make a space for native species to recover and thrive.
For more information, explore the NOAA webpage on living shoreline projects.
PBS NewsHour explains what a living shoreline is, why we need them, and interviews some of the people in charge of constructing them.
Breakwater: A large rock barrier placed parallel to shore to dissipate wave energy and erosion.
Jetty: A structure, usually made of rock, that protects a coastal area from the tide. In a living shoreline project, these have been used to protect vegetation.
Reef ball: An artificial reef that mimics the look and function of real coral by dissipating wave energy and providing shelter for small marine organisms.
Sill: A rock structure running parallel to shore, with marsh grasses behind it.
see living shoreline glossary for more definitions
More and more places on the Connecticut shoreline are turning to living shorelines to help combat an increase in sea level rise and erosion. Read this article from The CT Mirror to learn more.