Living Shoreline at Fairwinds on Severn

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Hi! My name is Ben Fertig, I’m the Restoration Manager at Severn River Association (SRA). My job is to help communities improve their local environment and contribute to the restoration of the Severn River. Good communication is really important to me. So I’ve put together this page to let you know about what’s happening with the living shoreline project at Fairwinds on Severn. If you ever have any questions or concerns, please let me know! My email is ben@severnriver.org 

Click on any picture to make it bigger or to download.

I really want your input and feedback on the project (see Project Summary below). Right now, while the project is still in its early stages, is the best opportunity to make sure to get it right. Please let me know what you think.  As we get closer to a finished design, there will be less wiggle room to make changes. Once the design is 100% complete, it will be locked in and we won’t be able to make changes.

SRA is a 501c3 non-profit organization with experience and success at pursuing funding and project management for pollution reduction and environmental restoration. Our vision is a thriving Severn River by 2050, and our mission is to connect the people who live, work, and play on the Severn River to restore and protect it for all of our communities. 

Project Origin

SRA and Fairwinds on Severn are partnering together as there is interest in exploring if a living shoreline can be used to curtail erosion occurring along the community’s shoreline. SRA conducted a site visit with a number of board and community members and discussed the process of design, permitting, construction and maintenance. Fairwinds has decided to work with SRA and SRA will seek grant funding and serve as project manager, supervising contractors. More information about living shorelines is below.

Living Shorelines

Living Shoreline Toolkit

Living shorelines create open spaces along a river’s shoreline, mimicking Mother Nature’s natural defenses against erosion. Living shorelines can solve typical erosion problems found on the Severn River. Their design not only protects the shoreline from storm and powerboat wave energy, but also rebuilds the natural sandy shoreline that is greatly affected due to storms, rising sea level, and wave energy.

Project Environmental Benefits

  • Maintain protection of communal gathering space from erosion, boat wakes etc.
  • Living shorelines can dampen the energy of wave action from storms and powerboat wakes, deflecting it away from the shore. 
  • They collect sandy material as it drifts along the shoreline and deposit it within the area to be protected.
  • Living shorelines are a natural defense against erosion and a cost effective way to protect it.
  • Decrease harmful effects of flooding
  • Decreased nutrient & sediment pollution in the Severn – smaller and fewer ‘dead zones’ (with enough pollution reduction, maybe we even get rid of them altogether!)
  • Native plants will attract pollinators (birds, butterflies, bats and bees)
  • Increased biodiversity
  • Stronger, more resilient environment
  • Provide wildlife habitat

Project Summary

The primary goal of the project is to curtail erosion of the shoreline in a way that balances enhanced recreational opportunities with improved water quality and wildlife habitat. Maintaining space for communal gatherings and enhanced water access for swimming, kayaking, paddleboarding, and power craft is critical for project success. The living shoreline should increase rates of denitrification – a natural nitrogen pollution reduction process – and decrease rates of erosion to help improve water quality in the Severn River. Currently, the Severn River has been declared “impaired” under the federal Clean Water Act for nitrogen, phosphorus, sediments and other pollutants. A secondary goal is to collect and treat stormwater prior to it entering the Severn to further prevent erosion and to improve overall water quality of the river.  A third goal is to increase habitat and native species biodiversity, and create additional spawning and nursery grounds for juvenile turtles, fish, horseshoe crabs,  as well as native pollinators (birds, butterflies, bees and bats). The final goal is to achieve all of the previous goals in the face of rising sea levels associated with climate change.

SRA will work with Fairwinds on Severn to further define project goals and desired outcomes. SRA and Fairwinds will solicit and select a contractor to design the living shoreline. 

There are four stages to the project:

  1. Identifying community needs and interests
  2. Engineering design and permitting
  3. Construction
  4. Maintenance

Project Design

SRA wants to make sure that the project is something that the community will enjoy (in addition to all the great environmental benefits). Keep in mind that, as with so many things in life, there are trade-offs to consider. We want to understand what you value so the project will reflect those values. So, right now we want your feedback, especially while the project is still in its early stages. Now is the best opportunity to make sure to get it right. Please let me know what you think. You can email me any time, ben@severnriver.org 

SRA is seeking funding for engineering design of this project through the Chesapeake Bay Trust (CBT) Watershed Assistance Grant Program (WAGP). SRA, with Fairwinds input, will go through the bid process to meet grant requirements. Funding could be awarded in full, in part, or not at all. If unsuccessful, SRA will look for other sources of funding to design, permit, and build these projects. A ‘no’ is not final or forever.

Project Construction

SRA will seek construction funding once 60% design is achieved and permits are requested through a combination of grant proposals submitted to Anne Arundel County (via Chesapeake Bay Trust), MD Department of Natural Resources (the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund), and/or the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (Small Watershed Grant).

Maintenance

Once constructed, SRA will be responsible for maintaining the project for the first five years. Then, responsibility for maintenance will be transferred to the community. Optionally, the community can contract with SRA to continue maintenance services. 

Maintenance obligations are specified in the Memorandum of Understanding with the County and include: 

  • Weeding, mulching (if/as needed), trash removal, and general aesthetic maintenance
  • Vegetation: 85% survival, and it can’t be removed or modified without approval
  • County can, during business hours and with advanced notice, verify & inspect the project to ensure maintenance, and this level of access runs with the land
  • County receives the water quality improvement credits
  • County provides structural maintenance (anything really big)
  • Post-construction, can’t alter the project without approval

SRA does not have thoroughly vetted estimates of costs for maintenance at this time, but is gathering this information for the future. West Severna Park estimates it is fairly minimal, taking one person about an hour maybe once every other month or so during the growing season. Though SRA is responsible for this maintenance, West Severna Park has never felt maintenance to be onerous enough to warrant reaching out to SRA for help. 

Timeline

  • June 2024 – community meeting and potential contractor site visits
  • Dec 2024 – SRA will submit a proposal to CBT for living shoreline and stormwater management design and permitting
  • March 2025 – hear if proposal is funded. If funded, design work begins. If not, identify alternative funding source
  • November 2025 – design work completed, permit applications, begin writing proposal(s) for construction funding
  • December 2025 – submit construction proposal for ⅓ of $ to MD DNR
  • March 2026 – submit construction proposal for ⅓ of $ to CBT (for County funding)
  • April 2026 – submit construction proposal for ⅓ of $ to NFWF (for EPA funding)
  • July 2026 – hear if construction is funded from MD DNR and CBT
  • September 2026 – hear if construction is funded from NFWF
  • October 2026 – construction begins (assuming fully funded)
  • December 2026 – construction completed, SRA responsible for maintenance for 5 years
  • December 2031 – maintenance responsibility transfers to Fairwinds

Ways You Can Help!

Community support is critical to a successful grant proposal. Specifically, there are several ways you can choose to support this project. Any and all are appreciated! 

  1. You can allow SRA and/or its contractors to access a site via your property 
  2. You can pledge to help volunteer with planting and/or maintaining native plants as part of the project’s installation.
  3. You can install a rain barrel or rain garden to capture and slow down stormwater coming off your roof.
  4. Add to the financial match that Fairwinds will be contributing… this will also be tax deductible.
  5. Other …. There are lots of ways to be involved. If you have an idea or want to discuss, please reach out!

If you are interested in participating in any of the ways above, please reach out to SRA’s Restoration Manager, Ben Fertig: ben@severnriver.org 

Community Questions & Concerns

​​Let SRA know your thoughts about the project. We will update this section with how these will be addressed.

Where will the living shoreline be?

Ultimately this is part of the decision making process. Initially SRA proposes the following: The section of shoreline starting from the boat ramp and going south to the end of the community shoreline is the highest priority for a living shoreline. A second priority could be from about 100 ft north of the pier to the northernmost end of the property. The community beach swimming area and seawall with riprap as well as the marina areas would all be left alone. 

There are different types of living shorelines – what are the advantages and disadvantages of each?

Living shorelines are designed uniquely to their site so that they are effective. The length, height, angle, etc. are all made to handle existing and future conditions such as wave height and direction. 

Is this project too small/big? Is the community too small?

SRA believes this is a viable project for the following reasons: 1) There is a substantial amount of erosion happening and this should be prevented from getting worse to prevent further environmental damage and to protect community assets. 2) The length of shoreline available for the project is attractive, especially in light of similar interest nearby at Hollywood-on-the-Severn. 3) Treating stormwater runoff from the boat ramp area will provide additional water quality improvements that also make this an attractive project. 4) Though Fairwinds is a relatively small and private community, which does limit the potential positive human benefits, the community appears to be open to ideas that will maximize the positive impact such as educational opportunities, community participation, and inclusivity. SRA hopes that elaborating and articulating these ancillary benefits will further increase the attractiveness of the project.

Hollywood is also interested in a living shoreline – where are they in the process and what are the advantages/disadvantages of collaborating?

Hollywood is essentially at the same stage in the process and anticipates working with SRA to submit a proposal to the same WAGP grant in December. While it could be worthwhile referring to each other’s proposal, the grant is limited to $100K for design engineering and it will likely cost about that for each community so it does not make sense to join the two at this time. If everything works out, including the timing and the same construction firm is used, economies of scale could be advantageous for the construction phase.

Can we talk with other communities about their living shorelines?

Yes, of course. A few years ago SRA worked with West Severna Park and contracted with Flood Brothers Marine Consultants for construction to create a living shoreline in front of their community bulkhead. SRA will provide contact information so that Fairwinds can get in touch

Additionally and separately, SRA is putting together a grant proposal to develop a Severn River Living Shorelines EcoTour. If that happens Fairwinds could attend this. Additionally, if Fairwinds ultimately creates a living shoreline, it would be amazing to be able to include it as a stop along the EcoTour. This could be a good opportunity to increase the attractiveness of the project as it would be an amazing education and demonstration opportunity for community engagement. 

What are the details about the matching contribution? When would that need to be provided, and to whom?

The amount and type of matching contribution is entirely at the discretion of the Fairwinds board. SRA will need a letter of commitment from the Fairwinds board pledging a matching financial and/or in-kind contribution to be included in the WAGP proposal submitted to CBT by December 2024 (earlier is better). Fairwinds would provide the funds to SRA only IF AND WHEN the design grant is awarded. Since SRA is a 501c3 non-profit organization, that would be tax-deductible (verify this with a tax professional). If the grant is not awarded, no money would be provided to SRA.

I’m interested in doing something in-kind on my own property. How does that work? 

Contact Ben Fertig, ben@severnriver.org directly to discuss. There are lots of options. For example, installing a rain garden or other ways to address stormwater coming off of your roof. If you were to do something to mitigate that by keeping the water on your property and letting it infiltrate into the ground, we would want to mention that in the proposal and then document the implementation. 

Have you seen projects get stuck at the grant application phase?

Yes, and in different ways. However, a ‘no’ is not final or forever. We can reapply and/or find other grants. One challenge is when a project is partially funded. Depending on the circumstances, funding can be declined to pursue a better option, or multiple funding sources can be pooled together to arrive at full funding. 

What would Fairwinds need to do to ensure getting grant funding? 

Grant funding is never certain. There are many factors that contribute to a funder’s decision to make an award. These are outlined in the Request For Proposals (RFP), which SRA thoroughly responds to. Last year, very important factors included:

  • Number of pounds of nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment pollution that is avoided annually by the project
  • Cost-Effectiveness ($ per pound of pollutant, compared to previously funded projects)
  • Matching contribution – while not required, matching contributions (both financial and in-kind) increase the cost-effectiveness of government dollars, so the more that is provided the more cost-effective, and thus more attractive a proposal can be
  • Co-Benefits – how will the project also create habitat, increase resilience to climate change and sea level rise, contribute to improved human health outcomes, provide opportunities for learning and community engagement, etc.
  • Community Engagement – how many people will positively benefit from the project through direct and indirect interaction with the project, and in what ways? Will there be opportunities for learning or demonstration? Will the project inspire or encourage or be relevant to future projects here or elsewhere? 
  • Inclusivity – how many different types of groups of people will be included in the project in some way? Will the project benefit groups that have been underrepresented or underserved by similar projects in the past? 

The more that the project can do to thoroughly address all of these and other items mentioned in the RFP, the better.

Photos

Check out the Google Photo Album for photos of the sites. Photos will be added to track the progress. 

Presentations 

Fairwinds Living Shoreline presentation

Documents