Living Shoreline at Green Acres

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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 restore 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 in Green Acres. SRA and Green Acres Community Association (GACA) are partnering together on this project. 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

The GACA community bulkhead is failing and is in need of substantial repair or replacement. In the 2010s, a community member identified the opportunity for a living shoreline along the community’s water access to replace the bulkhead. Unfortunately, while an initial design was prepared it did not meet all of the community’s needs. In 2023, your neighbor Amanda Reynolds picked up the idea of a potential living shoreline again and reached out to SRA to discuss the potential for assistance with grant writing and project management. SRA visited Green Acres in November 2023 and provided an outline of a strategy. SRA believes that any plan or design for a living shoreline must meet all of the needs of the community. SRA believes there is sufficient space on community property to be able to maintain water access for kayaks and small power craft while also replacing the failing bulkhead with a living shoreline that would protect community property, reduce erosion and pollution, and improve water quality and wildlife habitat. 

Living Shorelines

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 and cliffs 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’ (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 replace a failing bulkhead with a living shoreline to increase rates of denitrification – a natural pollution reduction process – that occurs in salt marshes and to decrease rates of erosion to help improve water quality in Back Creek and the Severn River. Currently, the Severn River has been declared “impaired” under the federal Clean Water Act for these nitrogen, phosphorus, sediments and other pollutants. A second goal is to increase habitat and native species biodiversity, and create additional spawning and nursery grounds for juvenile turtles, fish, oysters, as well as native pollinators (birds, butterflies, bees and bats). A third critically important goal is to continue protecting communal gathering space, small boat (kayak) water access, a dock and power craft access and other important community infrastructure. Lastly, the fourth goal is to continue achieving all of the previous three goals in the face of rising sea levels associated with climate change.

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

SRA is seeking funding for this project through the Chesapeake Bay Trust (CBT) Watershed Assistance Grant Program (WAGP). SRA will create an RFP and solicit contractor bids for this project according to the federal procurement procedures as required by the grant program. 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, like Maryland Department of Natural Resources Grants Gateway and National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Small Watershed Grants program. A ‘no’ is not final or forever.

SRA’s work for the Severn, including on environmental restoration projects like this one, is only possible because of private donations from our over 500 members. Grants like this one only cover a small fraction of our costs. Every member makes an annual donation and those who give $1000 or more annually become one of our critically important major donors.

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 

The Green Acres Board notes that any plans for any living shoreline must meet the following requirements:

  • A shoreline protection option that is more environmentally positive for our neighborhood in order to reduce erosion and runoff into Back Creek and the Chesapeake Bay.
  • Retain the 5/6 boat slips that currently exist.
  • Address flood plain and drainage concerns of nearby properties.
  • Shoreline protection solution will allow for the retention of a consistent, ongoing, average boat
  • Slip water depth of at least 3 feet. Includes the allowance for future silt removal procedures (e.g dredging) to maintain this required boat slip water depth.
  • A shoreline protection solution that provides similar level of protection as a traditional bulkhead.
  • Retain usable “common area” where all residents can enjoy waterfront activities, such as launching small boats/kayaks, picnicking/hanging out, running dogs, etc.

Figure 1. Concept of a living shoreline and rain gardens. Note that by having a pier that runs along the shoreline and utilizes the existing pilings retains the existing boat slips. Slip depth is not shallowed and water would run unrestricted underneath the pier to reach the living shoreline. Rain gardens will receive water from the storm drain along Janice Drive and will drain water from the remaining grassy area which will become less soggy. Stormwater will filter down into the ground via the rain gardens thereby decreasing nitrogen and phosphorus pollution entering Back Creek. A kayak/canoe launch can be incorporated into the sandy area of the living shoreline.

Timeline

  • October 2023 – SRA met with GACA for a site visit and discuss project potential and funding possibilities and process
  • November 2023 – SRA met with Amanda Reynolds for a site visit and discussed project potential and funding possibilities and process.
  • January 2024 – Green Acres governing board meeting with SRA
  • April 2024 – BayLand and HLS conduct site visit to receive a cost estimate. HLS provided a concept (Figure 1 above).
  • December 2024 – SRA will submit proposal to CBT for living shoreline 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 for construction funding
  • March 2026 – proposal submission for construction funding
  • July 2026 – hear if construction is funded, if so, construction begins
  • September 2026 – construction completed, SRA responsible for maintenance for 5 years
  • September 2031 – maintenance responsibility transfers to Oyster Harbor

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. 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 Comments, Questions & Concerns

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

Will the number or location of the boat slips be affected by the project?

  • No. The same number of boat slips, or more, will remain accessible to the community.

Will construction impact access to the boat slips?

  • Possibly, but this will be temporary, and can likely be timed during periods of low boating activity (e.g. before Memorial Day, after Labor Day, etc.). We will know and communicate more about specific impacts and their timing once construction sequence is determined during the later stages of design.

Photos

Click here to view the Photo Album 

Presentations 

Green Acres Living Shoreline presentation

Documents