Living Shorelines

Living shorelines help protect shorelines from erosion.

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Get involved with G.E.O.R.G.I.A., our project to create new oyster reefs along the Georgia coast.

Traditional shoreline protection uses seawalls and bulkheads that “harden” the shore and cause a break between the marsh and upland. These structures protect the land for a time but must be maintained and replaced over time.

Living shorelines mimic nature to stabilize marsh banks by using native plants and oyster shells. Tides are constantly changing, and a living shoreline works with the natural environment to stabilize the shoreline and allows the marsh and upland to remain connected.

UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant are working with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (GA DNR), The Nature Conservancy, Sapelo Island National Estuarine Research Reserve (SINEER) and Little St. Simons Island, LLC to study living shorelines as an alternative way to protect property and provide habitat for marine life and wildlife. Three project sites are being studied: two located at SINEER and one on Little St. Simons Island.

Sapelo Island Project

The projects on Sapelo were funded by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and SINEER. The sites were established in the spring of 2010 with the goal of stabilizing areas where the stream bank was eroding.

Little St. Simons Island Project

UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant, in partnership with GA DNR Coastal Resources Division, The Nature Conservancy, Sapelo Island National Estuarine Research Reserve and Little St. Simons Island, LLC, established a living shoreline on Little St. Simons Island. The project was funded in part by a grant from the Southeast Aquatic Resources Partnership NOAA Community Based Restoration Grant Program and by Little St. Simons Island, LLC.

The project goal is to remove a failing bulkhead and use oyster shells to stabilize the creek bank. This is the second living shoreline constructed using oyster shells in Georgia and will continue to be monitored to determine if the living shoreline technology will be a viable alternative to traditional shoreline hardening methods such as bulkheads and rip-rap. Once completed, we will have established ~0.1 acres of oyster habitat and planted ~2,000 native plants at the site.

To help establish the living shoreline an Americorp National Civilian Community Corps team, Delta 7, is helping bag oyster shells and plant marsh plants that are vital to the success of the living shoreline.

Tybee Island Project

UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant completed the construction and installation of the base layer for a living shoreline project at the Burton 4-H center on Tybee Island, a project partially funded by a National Fish and Wildlife Foundation grant. The goals of this project are to stabilize an eroding bank at the Burton 4-H center and increase the amount of oyster and marsh habitat in Horse Pen Creek.

The Tybee Island project partners include UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant, the UGA Carl Vinson Institute of Government and Georgia 4-H. The City of Tybee, Chatham County Metropolitan Planning Commission, Coastal Civil Engineering, 100 Miles and The Nature Conservancy all provide additional support for the project.

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