Winners Named in Inaugural Best Restored Shoreline Awards

Author  Kate Gooderham

Washington, D.C. –  Four exemplary coastal restoration projects win top honors from the American Shore & Beach Preservation Association (ASBPA) by implementing creative solutions to eroding shores, rising seas, and degrading environmental conditions. The winning projects located in Louisiana, Texas, Virginia and Delaware each demonstrate innovative approaches and partnerships to achieve superior ecological outcomes. All serve as flagships for other shoreline restoration efforts.

The 2019 Best Restored Shore winners are:

Virginia Point Wetland Protection Project, Texas

Mississippi River Long Distance Sediment Pipeline, Louisiana

Money Point Shoreline Restoration, Virginia

Mispillion Living Shoreline Project, Delaware

In less than two years following construction, the Virginia Point Wetland Protection Project, Texas, provided multiple benefits for Texas tallgrass coastal prairie, a rapidly disappearing habitat that supports a vast number of wildlife and marine life, including birds, crabs, shrimp and oysters. Its undulating breakwater maintains the characteristic beauty of the site while stabilizing the shoreline and trapping sediment to support expansion of wetlands.

Funded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund, U.S. Department of the Interior’s Coastal Impact Assistance Program, and the Texas General Land Office’s Coastal Erosion Planning and Response Act Program, the project represents a successful partnership between SCENIC GALVESTON (an environmental nonprofit), the General Land Office, AECOM (a global engineering consultant with a Houston-based design and construction oversight team), and Apollo (a Texas-based construction contractor).

The Mississippi River Long Distance Sediment Pipeline, Louisiana, project implemented by Moffatt & Nichol for the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, reinforced the Bayou Dupont shoreline with earthen ridges and intertidal mudflats to restore the area’s hydrology and waterfowl, fisheries, and other wildlife habitats. These re-created historic features also act as natural buffers from tides and storm surge for residents of flood prone areas in the Barataria basin, near New Orleans.

The sophisticated modeling, design, and construction of this project demonstrated the viability of a new sediment delivery approach that advanced large-scale wetland restoration utilizing a renewable sediment source from the Mississippi River. Through the design of the sediment pipeline corridor, what originally started off as an approximately a 400-acre marsh creation project, created the foundation for creating nearly 1,100 acres of marsh habitat along the critically degraded upper Barataria Land Bridge.

The Money Point Shoreline Restoration, Virginia, is the nation’s first large-scale sediment remediation project completed by a not-for-profit – the Elizabeth River Project – and included the first known living cap design to isolate contaminated sediments and provide critical wetland and oyster habitat. The Elizabeth River Project built trust with the industrial landowners who supported the project and worked with the federal and state agencies to assure the project would function as designed.

The results: A lush marsh with a resident otter family, cancer in the mummichog fish has dropped to background levels, over 26 species of fish feed from the marsh, oysters are growing on the reef and wetland sill structure, and a significant upland buffer is flourishing into a forest. Money Point demonstrates that restoration projects function best when the entirety of an ecological continuum is nursed back to life.

The Mispillion Living Shoreline Project, Delaware, has provided valuable information on the effectiveness of living shorelines not only to meet goals related to shoreline stabilization but objectives associated with shellfish-mediated water quality improvements. Five years of robust project monitoring by the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary (PDE) yielded valuable information regarding how quickly living shorelines can produce clean water benefits, which can be vital information for agencies that regulate water quality. The project demonstrates the advantage of this new approach for shoreline designers, builders, and the public.

At the Mispillion site, the project team assessed water filtration and nutrient removal by oysters and ribbed mussels as the animals colonized and grew on the installed materials. The work that PDE performed in collaboration with partners at the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, as well as the DuPont Nature Center at Mispillion Harbor, highlights the value of robust monitoring efforts. Due to the success of the original project installed between 2014 and 2016, a secondary effort to expand the living shoreline began in 2018, and PDE is pursuing additional funding to sustain the monitoring into at least 2022.

ASBPA initiated the Best Restored Shore Award to recognize innovative shore restoration projects and the hard work that goes into finding funding and ensuring project success and to encourage other communities to undertake these efforts. “Continued public support for shore restoration is crucial to building coastal resiliency to storms and rising seas,” said ASBPA President Tony Pratt. “Successfully planning and implementing shoreline restoration projects can be challenging and too often their far-reaching economic benefits go unnoticed.”

“The nation’s coastal environments are experiencing environmental degradation which is accelerating impacts of climate change, said Shannon Cuniff, co-chair of the Best Restored Shore award. “With this award, we intend to raise awareness of excellent projects that created more resilient shores, and encourage other communities to do the same.”

Winners will be honored at the 2019 ASBPA National Coastal Conference in Myrtle Beach, SC, in October.