"Living shoreline" means a shoreline management practice that provides erosion control and water quality benefits; protects, restores, or enhances natural shoreline habitat; and maintains coastal processes through the strategic placement of plants, stone, sand fill, and other structural and organic materials. When practicable, a living shoreline may enhance coastal resilience and attenuation of wave energy and storm surge.
Why install a living shoreline?
Shoreline erosion is increasingly a challenge for Hampton property owners. Sea level rise is leading to higher tides more often, and erosion in areas not previously impacted. Living shorelines are a more natural approach to address this erosion, as compared to “hard” shoreline stabilization techniques like revetments and bulkheads. They also provide multiple benefits beyond minimizing shoreline erosion, including filtering pollution, creating aquatic habitats, and adding aesthetic value. Another advantage to living shorelines over “hard” options is that living shorelines, as a living system, is more resilient to storm damage, and often able to regrow any damaged areas that are sustained.
Additionally, according to the current code of the Commonwealth of Virginia, living shorelines are the required option for stabilizing tidal shorelines experiencing shoreline erosion, if the best available science for the specific site conditions indicate a living shoreline is suitable. This means when conditions are good for a living shoreline, the regulatory agencies can only permit a living shoreline project.
What resources are available to support property owners to construct living shorelines?
The City of Hampton has partnered with the Colonial Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) to offer Hampton property owners access to technical and financial assistance for living shorelines through the Virginia Conservation Assistance Program (VCAP). In its first year, VCAP will support as many as 10 property owners to install living shorelines in Hampton. Currently, qualifying property owners could receive up to 80 percent of the total project cost (not to exceed $30,000) in reimbursement for approved living shoreline projects.
Shorefront landowners who would like to learn whether they may be eligible for assistance through VCAP can contact theHampton Wetlands Board staff Urvi Patel, city planner, through email or by calling 757-728-5144.