Turnbull Estates Living Shoreline

Turnbull Estates Living Shoreline Project, South River, Edgewater, MD

South River Federation (SRF), in partnership Turnbull Estates community, Edgewater, MD, and Coastal Conservation Association Maryland, is currently working on a living shoreline project that will incorporate reef balls at Turnbull Estates near the Glebe Bay Oyster Sanctuary. The current site is eroding sediment into the oyster sanctuary, making it a prime target for this type of living shoreline project. While still in its preliminary stages, the concept for the project incorporates the placement of reef balls offshore with shoreline plantings of native aquatic vegetation to create a tidal marsh. The reef balls will serve to protect the living shoreline from wave action, together having the benefit of filtering pollutants from the water and reducing erosion at Turnbull Estates. Both the stormwater and shoreline components of this project will reduce sediment flowing into Glebe Creek, the home of the South River’s only designated oyster sanctuary. In addition to improving water quality for the oyster sanctuary, this project will increase the habitat value of the current shoreline by reducing erosion, bringing in hundreds of native plants, and using existing woody debris to create multiple layers of habitat.

Instead of proposing a conventional living shoreline, the Federation is working with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF), Coastal Conservation Association (CCA), and Oyster Recovery Partnership (ORP) on an innovative approach to stabilizing this shoreline that utilizes existing sediment supply and will also add hard structure (likely 3’ oyster reef balls) that is more likely to become shellfish habitat than the types of rip rap used in conventional living shorelines due to its larger surface area to volume ratio to promote the growth of oysters and other bivalves.

CCA’s national habitat program, The Building Conservation Trust, has had success with similar living shoreline projects including the recently completed Fantasy Island Project.  The Fantasy Island Oyster Community Creation and Shoreline Stabilization Project allowed for the creation of new reef balls and oyster bar habitat along the southern shoreline of Fantasy Island, near Tampa, Florida. This project is helping stabilize approximately 700’ of severely eroding shoreline, providing hard bottom habitats for fish and wildlife resources and promoting water quality improvements in the Tampa Bay ecosystem. In October 2016, BCT was proud to be part of such an impactful and important community project and together with CCA Maryland is looking forward to working with the South River Federation on a very similar project concept.