Queen Anne’s Launches Unique “Living Shoreline”

National Wildlife Federation, Maryland Department of Natural Resources and Queen Anne’s County Officials Launch First-of-its-Kind, Climate Adaptive Shoreline

Officials from the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), the state of Maryland and Queen Anne’s County held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday for the Conquest Preserve Living Shoreline Project on the banks of the Chester River. The project is one of the first living shoreline projects in the country to incorporate sea level rise projections into its design from the outset, in an attempt to mitigate some of the damaging effects of climate change in a cost-effective and natural way.

From an NWF Press Release,

“The National Wildlife Federation is proud to have spearheaded such an innovative project right on the banks of the Chesapeake Bay, one of our nation’s most prized natural resources,” said Dr. Bruce Stein, NWF’s Associate Vice President for Conservation Science and Climate Adaptation. “The Conquest Preserve Living Shoreline is a great example of how climate-smart conservation can improve habitat while also providing social and economic benefits to local communities.”

Other attendees at the event included Maryland Governor’s Office Deputy Chief of Staff Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio; Maryland Board of Public Works Executive Secretary Sheila C. McDonald; Maryland Department of Natural Resources Secretary Mark Belton; Maryland Senator Stephen S. Hershey Jr. (R-Dist. 36); Maryland Delegate Steven J. Arentz (R-Dist. 36); Maryland Delegate Jefferson L. Ghrist (R-Dist. 36); Queen Anne’s County Commissioners James J. Moran, Steve Wilson and Jack N. Wilson Jr. and other county staff; and Wildlife Conservation Society Climate Adaptation Fund Program Manager Liz Tully.

Living shorelines projects use natural materials – as opposed to hard infrastructure such as seawalls and bulkheads – to reduce erosion, stormwater runoff and habitat loss. The Conquest Preserve project is the first in the country to use a “shingle beach” design, consisting of pebbles or small- to medium-sized cobbles, rather than the typical fine sand. While they provide some stability, the lightweight cobbles are not completely static and move slightly with the tide. This allows the shoreline to shift and respond to wave action and rising sea-levels into the future.

The living shoreline stabilizes the public beach by reducing erosion and increasing marsh grass habitat for wildlife in the near term, as well as providing a natural barrier to projected sea level rise associated with climate change. As sea levels rise and wave action increases, the cobblestone, dunes and marsh grass that make up the shoreline gradually migrate upland and inland, rather than being overcome or destroyed.

Read the full press release for more information.