Resources for Homeowners and Professionals

Below is a list of available resources for homeowners and technical professionals (e.g., marine contractors, landscape architects, engineers, etc.) who are interested in learning more about implementing a living shoreline.  

Weighing Your Options - How to Protect your Property from Shoreline Erosion: A Handbook for Estuarine Property Owners in North Carolina

This guide serves as a tool for those interested in learning about the options available in for shoreline stabilization in North Carolina. In addition to providing information about stabilization methods, permitting, and costs, the guide also has a worksheet that asks site-specific questions designed to help users learn more about their estuarine shoreline property before making a decision about which control option to implement. 

N.C. Division of Soil and Water Conservation Community Conservation Assistance Program (CCAP)

CCAP is a voluntary, incentive-based program designed to improve water quality through the installation of various best management practices (BMPs) on urban, suburban and rural lands, not directly involved in agricultural production. CCAP consists of educational, technical and financial assistance provided to landowners by local soil and water conservation districts. 

Eligible landowners may include: homeowners, businesses, schools, parks, churches, and community groups. Essentially, all private and publicly owned lands are eligible for the program.

Interested landowners submit applications to their local soil and water conservation districts. Applications will be ranked based on local water quality priorities. If eligible, a conservation plan is prepared for the applicant to install the BMP (a landscaper may be used). The landowner may be reimbursed up to 75 percent of the pre-established average cost of the BMP.

What BMPs would be useful for estuarine shorelines stabilization?

  • Riparian buffers area areas of native trees and shrubs located adjacent to a body of water.  These buffers serve as a barrier to nonpoint source pollution from stormwater.  Buffers also filter runoff, control flooding, protect property from erosion and provide essential wildlife habitat. CCAP reimburses up to 75% of actual cost of the approved project.
  • Streambank and shoreline protection is the use of vegetation to stabilize and prevent erosion of the banks of streams, lakes or their waterways.  This BMP restores the natural function of the stream and improves water quality.  Erosion leads to sediment buildup, loss of habitat, flooding, loss of property and poor water quality.  This practice prevents erosion, restores wildlife habitat, reduced flooding and filters polluted runoff. CCAP reimburses up to 75% of actual cost of the approved project.
  • Marsh sills protect estuarine shorelines from erosion, combining engineered structures with natural vegetation to maintain, restore, or enhance the shoreline’s natural habitats. A sill is a coast-parallel, long or short structure built with the objective of reducing the wave action on the shoreline by forcing wave breaking over the sill.  Sills are used to provide protection for existing coastal marshes, or to retain sandy fill between the sill and the eroding shoreline, to establish suitable elevations for the restoration or establishment of coastal marsh and/or riparian vegetation. CCAP reimburses up to 75% of actual cost of the approved project.

Contact your local soil and water district. They will be able to determine what your property is eligible for and help put together an application. 

Living Shoreline Workshops 

The N.C. Coastal Reserve & National Estuarine Research Reserve's Coastal Training Program held a living shorelines workshop - Living Shorelines for Erosion Control on Estuarine Shorelines - for realtors and technical professionals. View presentations by speakers from partnering organizations, like DCM, the N.C. Coastal Federation, and N.C. Sea Grant.

Video - Living shorelines: A habitat-friendly alternative for shoreline stabilization

Living Shoreline Explorer for Carteret and Onslow Counties

When you open the Nature Conservancy's Coastal Resilience Tool, scroll down on the right menu to find the Living Shoreline Explorer, click “Go” to open this dataset. This tool provides guidance on using a living shoreline approach to control shoreline erosion based on site-specific wave energy.

APNEP's Living storm protections blog series

In a two part blog series from the Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary Partnership, learn how Hurricane Florence and Tropical Storm Michael impacted living shorelines. 

Living Shorelines Academy

On this national site, learn about living shorelines – what they are, how they are designed and built, and how they serve our coastal habitats and communities. Whether you are a property owner looking for alternatives to mitigate erosion on your shoreline property, or a contractor or a policy maker looking to gain more in depth knowledge about the design and permitting of living shorelines, on this site you can find a course, project databases, literature and additional resources to help you achieve those goals.

Shoreline Erosion Control Using Marsh Vegetation and Low-Cost Structures 

North Carolina Sea Grant developed this helpful publication that not only explains the role of marsh vegetation in reducing shoreline erosion but also highlights the types of plants that work best based on site-specific characteristics and provides advice for planting various types of vegetation. 

Marsh Grass Suppliers

North Carolina Sea Grant developed this list of marsh grass suppliers. The Division of Coastal Management does not endorse these entities. 

N.C. Coastal Federation 

The N.C. Coastal Federation has been involved in numerous living shoreline projects in North Carolina. Details and photos from projects in the northeast, central, and southeast regions of our coast are available on this site

The federation has also compiled a list contractors and engineers who have been trained to install living shorelines (scroll to bottom of page for list).

Virginia Institute of Marine Science's Center for Coastal Resources Management (CCRM)

CCRM exists to develop and support integrative and adaptive management of Virginia's coastal zone resources. Learn about the efforts of our neighboring state to promote the use of living shorelines. This site provides design options, guidance, and resources in determining if a living shoreline option is right for your situation.  

Pivers Island Beach Marsh and Oyster Restoration Project

In 2000, volunteer staff from Duke Marine Lab and NOAA undertook the restoration of an eroding beach on Pivers Island, Beaufort, NC. A living shoreline was created by planting marsh grass and depositing oyster shell seaward of the marsh. This project demonstrates how living shorelines combat coastal erosion and provide critical estuarine habitat. Read the report from the project

Impacts of Hurricane Irene on Pivers Islands Shorelines

Three living shorelines on or adjacent to Pivers Island were assessed in 2011 after Hurricane Irene. All three sites had marsh protected by material ranging from oyster shell to a living reef to a granite sill. The assessment showed that during prolonged periods of high wind and wave action a living shoreline with a well-developed oyster reef can trap sediments and stabilize upland marsh just as well as a granite sill. Read the report from the project. 

Restore America's Estuaries

The Living Shorelines: from barriers to opportunities report from Restore America's Estuaries identifies three major obstacles to broader use of living shorelines: 1) institutional inertia; 2) lack of a broader planning context; and 3) lack of an advocate. To address these obstacles, the report identifies four broad strategies, including: 1) education and outreach; 2) regulatory reform; 3) improve institutional capacity; and 4) public agencies as role models. Each strategy identifies a number of specific and actionable recommendations for decision and policy makers.