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volunteers working on the Living Shoreline of St. James, NC

The Living Shoreline Project

The St. James “Living Shoreline” project at Waterway Park is a multi-generational Citizen Scientist Community Conservation program in conjunction with the UNCW’s Center for Marine Science (Benthic Ecology Lab). The program started in 2004 funded each year by the Town of St. James. The Living Shoreline project has been highly successful using bagged oyster shells and marsh grasses to prevent erosion, reduce boat wake damage, and restore habitat for marine life while enhancing oyster habitat.

A living shoreline is a protected, stabilized coastal edge made of natural materials such as plants, sand, or rock. Unlike a concrete seawall or other hard structure, which impede the growth of plants and animals, living shorelines grow over time creating a living, natural solution to shoreline erosion while improving marine life.

Natural infrastructure solutions like living shorelines provide wildlife habitat, as well as natural resilience to communities near the waterfront. Living shorelines are sometimes referred to as nature-based, green, or soft shorelines. They are an innovative and cost-effective technique for coastal management. St. James Conservancy is proud to coordinate this important and worthwhile restoration project.

See the story of the 2023 event as reported by WECT Wilmington.  

Each year St. James Conservancy and partners adds to the existing shoreline project to enhance and extend the barrier. This coordinated activity is as an ecological service to prevent erosion yet provide a habitat for marine life, among many other benefits. Each oyster cleans 30-50-gallons of water a day (actually, a bathtub full). The last work day resulted in the placement of 800  bags of oyster shells and the planting almost 2,200 plugs of Spartina Alterniflora marsh grasses. Participants become citizen scientist and include graduate/undergraduate student leaders from UNC Wilmington, as well as South Brunswick High School Aquaculture Teacher and students.

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living shoreline details
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Quote from Troy Alphin
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