Living Shorelines Restoration Project
Grass erosion is one of the most visible signs of shoreline degradation along the Delaware Bay shore, just as in many other wetland locations. But there are more types of less While there are likely a wide range of causes and contributors to the problem, there also appears to be some simple benign solutions that can be applied in test situations. We divided our efforts into four categories: 1) Sand dunes, 2)marsh, 3) lawn, 4) intertidal zone.
Eroded sand dunes have been successfully restored in a large number of shore locations. Our efforts follow the same basic procedures used in many other beach locations. The basic approach is to pile sand and leave it undisturbed long enough for beach grasses to spread roots. The process can be helped by inclusion of rock materials and topsoil or compost inside the dune.
Marsh areas damaged by pollution seem to recover quickly as long as the top layers of soil are intact and free from toxins. But areas that lose top layers erode almost immediately. Areas affected by toxins show longer term degradation and effects that may be difficult to generalize. Common toxins are motor oil, gasoline, heating oil, and tar. Our work simply involves removal soil with visible spills or "dead zones" and replacing with sand or topsoil.
Author Michael Pollan wrote that "A lawn is nature under totalitarian rule." Lawns pose a unique set of challenges due to our preference for the look of an environmentally unsustainable habitat as well as municipal ordinances that may prohibit the use of naturally occurring plants in place of commercial lawn grasses. Popular lawn management techniques and materials are a major cause of water pollution in the Delaware Bay. Our approach is to encourage growth of naturally occurring grasses in low traffic areas combined with a tolerant lawn grass for high traffic areas. Alternating application of topsoil, compost and clam shell seem to have enhanced lawn growth and resiliency.
We have no successful methods of restoring eroded intertidal zones but hope to receive additional input from local professionals. Local researchers report limited success with the use of coconut matte rolls but this technique has not proven effective in the turbulent waters around Newport NJ.
Rebuilt Sand Dune
This sane dune was destroyed by poorly designed drainage and roadway that destroyed the grasses and then allowed the soil to wash away. The dune is rebuilt with a rock base and plugs of dune grass and topsoil.
A natural wetland in spring shows piles of beach straw from the prior year's growth.
This picture shows how susceptible residential lawns can be to severe shoreline weather and flooding. Only a small plug of compacted topsoil remains to show evidence of the former lawn after the surrounding grass and soil is washed away.
Damaged sites like this one are much too common along the Delaware Bay and other waterways. This site was formerly a private residence but is now owned by The Nature Conservancy.
insert content here