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State clears way for natural shoreline stabilization

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Eli Chen/Delaware Public Media
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It’s now easier for Delaware property owners to protect their share of the state’s shoreline from erosion using a more natural method.

Delaware has created a streamlined permitting process for property owners and contractors to create a living shoreline.

This natural shoreline stabilization method uses grasses, plants, sand and stones to create a natural wetlands-like habitat.

The current method for stabilizing shorelines is using bulkheads to create solid, wall-like structures, according to Chris Basin, the executive director of Delaware’s Center for the Inland Bays.

“And this is a way to actually armor the shoreline and harden the shoreline against erosion. And, in a lot of cases it meets its objective. But what it also does is it kills most of the life on that shoreline,” he said.

Living shorelines provide habitat for the state’s shorebirds, terrapins, horseshoe crabs and fish, while also preventing erosion.

 

Bulkheads are still the preferred method for shore stabilization in areas with heightened wave activity and tidal fluctuations. But the state is hoping to make living shorelines the norm for protecting the rest of its erosion-prone areas.

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