Business Talk March-April 2014
“Living Shorelines” Gaining Favor
More and more, homeowners, nonprofits and city governments are turning to “living shorelines” to fight erosion. Instead of building traditional bulkheads, they’re building wetlands in front of land they want to protect.
The wetlands, ideally anchored by deep-rooted native grasses, are designed to absorb waves that nibble away at shorelines.
The concept is relatively new in Virginia. The city of Norfolk has completed dozens of living shoreline projects and has others in the works. Last year, at least four Virginia Beach homeowners received permits to build living shorelines, said Meredith Malone of Lynnhaven River Now, an environmental group that endorses the concept.
In addition to erosion control, natural shorelines help cleanse stormwater runoff and provide a habitat for animals. They also don’t block the movement or “migration” of wetlands like a bulkhead, said Kevin Du Bois, a Norfolk wetland scientist.
As sea levels rise, wetlands will move upslope as long as they’re not blocked by a hard structure. The ability of wetlands to migrate for survival will be important as seas and rivers rise, he said.
Survey Shows Conservation Efforts Working
Despite more land in production and extreme weather events, cropland erosion rates have remained stable since 2007, a Natural Resources Conservation Service report shows. It provides a summary on the status, condition and trends in land, soil, water and related resources on the nation’s private lands from 1982 to 2010.
Based on data from 800,000 sample locations across the U.S., the survey found that soil erosion on cropland had decreased 41 percent between 1982 and 2010. Sheet and rill water erosion declined from 1.67 billion tons per year to 982 million tons per year, and wind erosion decreased from 1.38 billion to 740 million tons per year.
“We expected to see an increase in erosion, but our numbers told a different story,” said Patrick Flanagan, NRCS national statistician.
City Applies for Grant to Combat Erosion
The City of Lakewood, Ohio, is asking the federal government for a $200,000 grant to study ways of helping lakefront property owners battle erosion.
If it receives the grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Lakewood would partner with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) to study options for the types of projects that property owners could most effectively undertake to protect their land from washing into the lake. It would also look at how the city and state could best help property owners pay for the erosioncontrol projects.
The grant would also allow the city and ODNR to explore other options, with ODNR providing the technical expertise.
Erosion a Concern at Historic Lighthouse
The Lee County Tourist Development Council in Gasparilla Island, Florida, has tentatively committed $250,000 to an emergency erosion control measure at a seawall near the restored, 1890sera Port Boca Grande Lighthouse and museum.
In June 2012, Tropical Storm Debby damaged the existing seawall and accelerated erosion at the island’s south end. Nearly 800,000 people visited the historic site last year.
Improvements to the seawall are in progress. If it were to fail in a tropical storm, the lighthouse would be imminently threatened by erosion.
Creating a Turf Landing Strip
The nearly million-dollar modernization project underway at Desert Aire Airport in Mattawa, Washington, includes the development of a turf landing strip for sport planes. It was recently completed with the hydroseeding of the grass.
The hydroseeding materials sprayed onto the ground include a coloring substance, seed, mulch and fixing. It is seeded to a depth of half an inch.
The turf landing strip was built between the main paved strip and one of the taxiways. It is for sport planes, which perform better on turf strips. The cost was covered in the Washington State Department of Transportation grant for the main strip.
The new Desert Air Airport turf runway will be ready for use as soon as the grass is fully grown.