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Document Type

Book Chapter


Virginia Institute of Marine Science


Sandra Y. Erdle, Jana L.D. Davis and Kevin G. Sellner

Publication Date


Book Title

Management, Policy, Science, and Engineering of Nonstructural Erosion Control in the Chespeake Bay - Proceedings of the 2006 Living Shoreline Summit


Chesapeake Research Consortium


CRC Publication No. 164


Shoreline stabilization methods that emphasize the use of tidal marshes and riparian vegetation are encouraged as a baseline defense for tidal shoreline erosion in Virginia. The effectiveness of three of these methods in preventing erosion and providing habitat was evaluated, including marsh stabilization structures (marsh toe revetments and sills), planted tidal marshes, and bank grading. This evaluation includes results from a recent field survey of 36 tidal marsh stabilization structures, permitting records, and other monitoring data. Marsh structures effectively reduced erosion of fringing and embayed marshes but were not as effective for gradually disappearing spit marshes. Adverse impacts of restricted tidal exchange were observed where the revetment height was more than one foot above the mean high water elevation. The two nonstructural methods provided both habitat and erosion protection, but were generally not as effective as marsh structures. Planted marshes were most effective where regular high tides do not reach the upland bank. Graded banks that included a flat area for marsh vegetation at the toe were more effective than banks graded steeply landward from the toe. Graded banks maintained as lawns were not as effective for preventing storm erosion as densely vegetated slopes. Additional research is needed to investigate how sand fill and fiber materials can be used beneficially to enhance tidal salt marshes and beaches for erosion protection.

A Comparison of Structural and Nonstructural Methods for Erosion Control and Providing Habitat in Virginia Salt Marshes