Living Shoreline at Hollywood on the 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 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 Hollywood-on-Severn. If you ever have any questions or concerns, please let me know! My email is 

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 Hollywood-on-Severn Improvement Association (HOSIA) are partnering together. HOSIA’s bulkhead by the communal gathering area is failing and it will need to be repaired or replaced. HOSIA contacted SRA to inquire about the feasibility of replacing the bulkhead with a living shoreline on this community property. SRA conducted a site visit with a number of HOSIA board and community members and discussed the process of design, permitting, implementation (construction) and maintenance. HOSIA has decided to work with SRA and that SRA will seek funding and serve as project manager, supervising contractors. More information about living shorelines is below. 

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 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 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). Lastly, the third goal is to continue achieving all of the previous goals in the face of rising sea levels associated with climate change.

SRA will work with HOSIA to further define project goals and desired outcomes. Further SRA and HOSIA 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.

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, 


  • October 2023 – SRA met with HOSIA for a site visit and discuss project potential and funding possibilities and process
  • November 2023 – HOSIA decided to work with SRA as project manager and provided temporary access to SRA and (potential) contractors for project design. 
  • December 2023 – community meeting with SRA
  • January 22, 2024, 7pm – Community Meeting to discuss project and answer questions
  • September – December 2024 – SRA will submit 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 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 HOSIA

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: 

Community Comments, Questions & Concerns

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

Stormwater management is also an important issue. Would it be included or separate from this project? There is a pipe (possibly plugged) with an outfall onto the beach. Other drain pipes also lead to the river. An “island” on Oak Rd. could be incorporated. 

  • Possibly. This can be included in the Request for Proposals (RFP) to potential contractors to include in their bid concept and cost estimate. This can be used as a criteria for selecting a contractor. From there, we can determine if it should be included in the same or a separate proposal to Chesapeake Bay Trust. Cost may also be a factor, as the WAGP grant can provide up to $100K. 

 – Is it possible to plant more native plants on our HOSIA property near the water, as part of the project?  What is the buffer zone on land that is considered part of the shoreline (how far inland is considered the “shore”)?

  • Yes! I highly encourage that! 
  • We can include native plants in both the living shoreline and the stormwater proposals. 
  • From my notes, I recall that you want to maintain a substantial grass area for community gatherings, recreation, dog walking etc. This can be maintained. 
  • The extent and exact location of the shoreline can be defined with input both from HOSIA and based on the depth of the water and the angle of waves hitting the shore – we can fill outward to some extent in shallow area to create high/low marsh. 

– The HOSIA beach area along the current bulkhead is deteriorating and there are pockets and large holes that are dangerous for beachgoers. Would it be possible to get some guidance about how we can make the bulkhead area more safe temporarily until the project commences?

  • My immediate low-tech thought is to simply cordon off those areas. Drive a stake in an outlined are and tie together with ‘caution’ tape. I think that would be quickest and easiest. I don’t think it would be cost-effective to engineer something more robust for a temporary solution, but you might want to ask around. I recognize it’s not the prettiest solution.

– There continues to be a strong interest among community members and committee members to see other examples of living shorelines in our area.  Maybe this would be possible in the spring/summer?  In the interim, it would be great to share pictures of the shorelines in a presentation to the community.  I think people are afraid the beach area would become a grassy marsh instead of a beach. 

  • Yes. Let’s plan on a living shore tour in March/April. 
  • SRA completed a living shoreline restoration project in West Severna Park a few years ago. We worked with Flood Brothers Co.
    • In the meantime, you can watch the seminar on living shorelines by Dr. Cindy Palinkas, UMCES Horn Point Lab, that we hosted in September. I think she has some photos of living shorelines over on the eastern shore that she has been studying.  
    • Also, contact Arundel Rivers Federation – they might have some other examples in the South/West/Rhode Rivers you could see.

– After hearing that the SRA and grants may favor projects that impact multiple communities, we at Hollywood on the Severn reached out to our neighbors at Whitney’s Landing. They have expressed an interest in either joining our living shoreline project or engaging you in a project of their own depending on your recommendation for best outcomes. On behalf of the Hollywood on the Severn committee, we would welcome the opportunity to expand the project to include Whitney’s Landing and look forward to hearing what you may recommend as most beneficial to both communities.

  • This is so great! Thank you! 
  • I would love to meet with Whitney’s Landing to provide more information and answer questions. 
  • I don’t yet have a recommendation for joining/going separately- it may depend on a couple things including the general desired length we are talking about – this is probably a conversation we should all have together. 
  • Some time in January, I’d like to invite potential funders and the County to come for a site visit to get this on their radar and get them excited about it as well. 
  • I’d also like to write up an RFP for contractors to start the bid process. But we should figure out if the project will be together or separate first I think. 

– As you know, we’re contacting neighboring communities to determine if they might be interested in joining us on this project. Next, we are going to try to reach people at Fairwinds, the neighborhood on the other side of us (opposite from Whitney’s Landing). We’ll keep you posted on this.

  • You are amazing!  Yes, please keep me posted about additional neighbors interested in living shorelines. I would love to talk to anyone and everyone. 

– In planning for a community-wide meeting in January, possible dates are Jan. 15 or Jan. 22.  The 15th is MLK day, so if the holiday is not good, we can meet the following week. Our meetings are usually at 7pm.  Please let us know if either of these would work for you to come meet with our community.  There is likely to be a good discussion based on the level of enthusiasm and interest at our December meeting.

    • Let’s go with Jan 22 at 7pm. While I have no problem with MLK Day, I imagine many may take advantage of a 3-day weekend and be away. Do you have a projector and/or screen (we do if not). I will want to record the meeting and post it to the project webpage so that others can see it if they are not able to attend in person. 


Check out the google photo album for photos of the sites. Photos will be added to track the progress. Just click the photo below:


1.22.2024 –Living Shoreline presentation Compressed


None to date