Living shoreline prevents erosion, promotes education

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SUNSET BEACH, NC (WWAY) —¬†Thursday morning, volunteers began constructing a 60-foot-long living shoreline in Sunset Beach.

It’s a partnership between the town and the North Carolina Coastal Federation, thanks to a $35,000 grant from Duke Energy.

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“The living shoreline is meant to help provide shoreline protection to the park, but also provide important habitats like oyster reef and salt marsh, which provide valuable water quality and ecosystem benefits for our estuaries,” said Coastal Federation Education Coordinator Ted Wilgis.

Wilgis says unlike a concrete seawall or other hard structure, a living shoreline is made up of rocks and oyster shells. It blocks waves, and will grow larger over time.

He says in addition to being a restoration effort, it’s an opportunity to educate the community, including students from Ashley High School’s Marine Science Academy.



“Whether they become marine biologists or whether they become attorneys or town leaders, if they’ve got that knowledge and ownership and stewardship of the coastal environment and the marine environment, they can apply that in their jobs,” said Wilgis.

Marine Science Academy student Samuel Hagestrom says they talk in the classroom about how living shorelines are used, so it’s nice to get first hand experience.

Explanation of a living shoreline (Source: NOAA)

“It affects everyone, and specifically us as coastal communities. We really have to give a hands-on approach to some of the issues that are going on. And this is a perfect example of that,” said Hagestrom.

The Duke Energy grant is part of a $10 million multi-year plan to improve water quality, quantity, and conservation in the Carolinas.