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Example of how living shorelines with oyster reefs and marsh grass can enhance coast line resilience in Long Island
Residential Nature-Based Solutions

Living Shorelines on Long Island Enhance Coastal Resilience

Co-authored by
Kaitlyn Frega, CFM, ENV SP + 
Benjamin Komita, EIT

Coastal erosion and the impacts of climate change pose a significant challenge for Long Island’s beachfront communities. To fortify properties against these threats while preserving their aesthetic appeal, property owners and municipalities along the coast are applying proactive measures. Through the integration of nature-based solutions such as living shorelines, and soft coastal engineering, prone areas like the Hamptons and Montauk can protect their shores while fostering ecological health. As climate change intensifies, the frequency and severity of storms are expected to increase, posing greater risks to coastal properties. Stronger storms can lead to higher storm surges and increased wave energy, which can accelerate erosion and threaten homes and commercial properties.

Additionally, rising sea levels exacerbate flooding, causing inundation of low-lying areas and compromising the stability of coastal infrastructure.

What is a Living Shoreline?

Living shorelines represent a long-term solution to coastal protection, utilizing natural materials and vegetation to stabilize shorelines and enhance habitat for native species. Unlike traditional hard structures, living shorelines absorb wave energy and offer numerous benefits, including erosion control, storm surge reduction, and improved water quality. Flora native to Long Island like beach grasses and seaside goldenrod serve to stabilize coastlines and act as a buffer against rough waves and flooding. Moreover, the restoration of natural dunes and salt marshes helps dissipate wave energy and provides habitat for wildlife. As living shorelines grow, evolve and adapt to their surroundings, overtime they can become more effective than bulkheads or seawalls which are not dynamic.

Another notable advantage of nature-based shoreline solutions is their aesthetic appeal. Unlike conventional seawalls, which can detract from the natural beauty of Long Island’s beaches, living shorelines seamlessly integrate with the surrounding environment, enhancing the visual appeal of coastal properties.

Harnessing the Power of Oyster Castles

In addition to plantings, oyster castles are innovative structures that can attenuate wave energy and reduce shoreline erosion. They mimic natural oyster reefs, providing habitat for filter feeders and reducing wave energy and erosion. Strategically deploying these structures along vulnerable coastlines bolsters resilience while supporting local oyster populations, contributing to water quality and biodiversity. Integrating oyster castles with other nature-based solutions enhances overall coastal defense against storms and climate change impacts.

Accessing Funding Opportunities

Communities along Long Island’s waterfront can explore various funding options, including grants and assistance programs aimed at supporting coastal resilience initiatives like New York Sea Grant opportunities. These resources help offset project costs and make sustainable shoreline solutions more accessible to property owners, ultimately contributing to the long-term protection of coastal properties.

Creating Customized Solutions for Long Island Property Owners

Every coastal property is unique, presenting its own set of challenges and opportunities. Owners can benefit from working with experienced engineers and environmental professionals to develop customized shoreline solutions tailored to their specific needs and site conditions. Whether it’s implementing a living shoreline, dredging for sediment management, or restoring natural dunes, personalized approaches ensure effective and environmentally sensitive coastal protection. Structures like kayak launches or boat docks can be easily incorporated into these living shoreline solutions to further provide functionality and aesthetic appeal for property owners.

Contact McLaren Engineering Group

Collaborating with property owners and local municipalities, we develop proactive steps towards safeguarding coastal investments for generations to come. With a multidisciplinary team of specialists, McLaren provides customized strategies that harness the unique characteristics of shorelines while promoting ecological health and resilience.

The Authors

Kaitlyn Frega - Permitting and Regulatory Lead at McLaren Engineering Group

Frega, CFM, ENV SP

Permitting + Regulatory Lead

Benjamin Komita, Marine Engineer at McLaren Engineering Group

Komita, EIT

Marine Engineer