Wetlands and Living Shorelines
The term ‘wetlands’ encompasses a variety of different habitats, depending upon their geographic location. All wetlands have several characteristics in common; they are wet, they support a wide variety of wildlife, and the majority have a diverse plant community. These characteristics seem simple, but it is their interaction that makes these ecosystems complex. Wetlands provide several valuable functions;
They filter both ground and surface waters.
They absorb floodwaters much like a sponge.
They buffer shorelines from storms and erosion.
They provide habitat for both aquatic and terrestrial wildlife.
They can improve landscape aesthetics.
They provide numerous recreational opportunities.
A ‘living shoreline’ is a specific type of wetland that is established to provide a lasting buffer between surface waters and the associated shoreline. Unlike shoreline hardening structures such as bulkheads and rock armor, these shorelines can live, adapt, and grow in response to changing environmental conditions. Sea level rise is a good example of environmental change.
Living shorelines are typically created on tidal shorelines but can also be built along lakeshores and the banks of slow-moving rivers and streams. The shoreline is manipulated through excavating and grading an aquatic shelf and a gentle slope up to the adjacent high ground.