Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
Living Shorelines for the Chesapeake Bay: They’re Working!
Northeast Region, October 22, 2009
Print Friendly Version
Shoreline prior to restoration, Dave Sutherland USFWS
Shoreline prior to restoration, Dave Sutherland USFWS - Photo Credit: n/a
Shoreline after restoration, Dave Sutherland USFWS
Shoreline after restoration, Dave Sutherland USFWS - Photo Credit: n/a

Last year, Chesapeake Bay Field Office Coastal Program partnered with private landowners on Shipping Creek in Queen Anne's County MD to restore a shoreline that had been constantly eroding by nearly 1000 feet over the past 100 years. But instead of the typical hardscaping riprap, a living shoreline was created to protect the shore and shallow water so critical to Chesapeake Bay's fish and wildlife resources.


The shoreline at the mouth of Shipping Creek was experiencing accelerated rates of erosion from a combination of reef habitat loss, land subsidence and sea level rise. The living shoreline project demonstrates how a low profile rock sill with planted marsh vegetation can counter act these conditions, surpassing the old techniques used for bank stabilization.


The rock sill acts as shallow reef habitat for shellfish. The marsh grasses restore aquatic habitats for fish, waterfowl, and reptiles, and serve as long-term shoreline protection by maintaining sediments and dampening wave action.. As sea level rises, these shallow water habitats will be more secure with this design for ecosystem restoration. 


More than 2 acres of marsh habitat and 680 linear feet of shoreline were restored. Lush stands of saltmarsh cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora) now stand where once only mud and an eroded shoreline lay.  Other important marsh plants including salt meadow hay (S. patens), saltmarsh bulrush (Schoenoplectus robustus), three square (S. pungens), and cattail (Typha spp.) have also become established.

Fish and other wildlife are already using the site. Striped bass(Morone saxatilis), American eel (Anguilla rostrata), white perch (Morone americana),and mummichog (Fundulus heteroclitus heteroclitus) as well as horseshoe crab (Limulus polyphemus), and blue crab (Callinectes sapidus are just a few aquatic species benefiting from the protected waters.


Waterfowl and wading birds including the great blue heron (Ardea herodias)), green heron (Butorides virescens), and snowy egret (Egretta thula) have begun using the shallows and marsh area. Diamondback terrapins (Malaclemys terrapin), snapping turtles (Chelydra serpentine) and northern water snakes (Nerodia sipedon) are there too.


This highly visible, vegetated shoreline stands in sharp contrast to traditional shoreline revetments constructed on nearby properties. Besides providing crucial habitat for wildlife, environmental benefits include improved water quality and reduced bank erosion.


Other partners included landowners Tony and Christy Puglisi, Sustainable Science, LLC

Environmental Quality Resources, LLC, Wildfowl Trust of North America, Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center and Maryland Department of Natural Resources.


For more information contact
David Sutherland



Contact Info: Kathryn Reshetiloff, 410-573-4582, kathryn_reshetiloff@fws.gov
Find a Field Notes Entry

Search by keyword

Search by State

Search by Region

US Fish and Wildlife Service footer