North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources
NC Division of Coastal Management
marsh toe revetment

Estuarine Shoreline Stabilization :: Living Shorelines Training

Living Shorelines Training Summary

On March 31 and April 1, 2009, a Living Shorelines Training was held for approximately 50 of North Carolina’s coastal regulators and resource agency staff in Beaufort, NC. This workshop was designed to train professionals on the concept of utilizing living shorelines to combat erosion in North Carolina. Living shorelines are a creative approach to protecting estuarine shorelines from erosion by using engineered structures to also maintain, restore, or enhance the shoreline’s natural habitats. These approaches can include: restoring, enhancing, or protecting existing wetland/riparian vegetation, construction of a marsh sill, and/or using other engineered structures to maintain, restore, enhance or create a natural shoreline. 

The event included an introduction and training on living shoreline concepts and fundamental design considerations by Gene Slear, Vice-President of Environmental Concern, Inc. Mr. Slear presented the benefits of living shoreline structures along with design criteria of location, site characteristics, and structure parameters.  

Coastal management program representatives from Delaware (Laura Herr – Division of Water Resources), Maryland (Rick Ayella- Tidal Wetlands Division & Jana Davis- Chesapeake Bay Trust), and Virginia (Karen Duhring - VIMS & Walter Priest –NOAA) made presentations on how their states have integrated living shoreline erosion control concepts into their permitting programs. 

The workshop included site visits to observe shorelines with no erosion control structures, marsh sills, living revetments, bulkheads, and vegetation plantings.  While on site at each location, a brief project and permitting history was given.  Also discussed on site were the applicable design considerations, alternative designs considered, pros/cons of the constructed project, and post-project maintenance/monitoring required.  A questions and answer period was held at each location to give participants the opportunity to discuss any concerns they might have had in regards to the specific project and its permitting process.   

At the end of each day, participants discussed concerns, constraints, and issues associated with living shorelines. Specific focus was on the permitting process for sills and bulkheads, their similarities and differences, the reasons for any such differences, and potential mechanisms and/or impediments to encourage the use of living shorelines.  Both sills and bulkheads are permitable through either the Division of Coastal Management’s (DCM) Major or General Permit process. North Carolina’s Major Permit program is a permit process that allows projects to be reviewed by DCM and other resource agencies for adverse impacts. The General Permit program expedites (in as little as a day) the Major Permit process to permit activities that do not result in adverse impacts, meet specific design/project criteria, and have a history of being routinely permitted. Participants also discussed specific issues they have with the site choice, design, and the permitting of marsh sills. 

In response to questions raised during the Living Shorelines Training, DCM is embarking on an effort to research the marsh sills that have been permitted in North Carolina. DCM will also put together educational materials to help inform the public of the various methods available to use for shoreline stabilization. These materials will help a property owner determine which shoreline stabilization method may be the most appropriate for their situation. 

Additional Information:

Invitational Flyer (PDF)

Living Shoreline Training Agenda (PDF)

Participant/Invitee List (PDF)

Presenter Bios

Event Site Visits – Information and Photos

Living Shoreline Summit Proceedings (2006)

VIMS Handout

Maryland House Bill 973 (PDF)

Maryland’s Shore Erosion Control Guidelines (PDF)




N.C. Division of Coastal Management . 400 Commerce Ave . Morehead City, NC 28557
1-888-4RCOAST . Email Us