Category Archives: Living Shoreline Projects

Living shoreline, A new guide from NOAA

Oct 2015 – Today is the release from NOAA of a Guide for people considering the use of living shorelines.

Some of the key points are:

  1. Living shorelines can become more stable over time.
  2. Living shorelines have outperformed hardened shorelines during storm events.
  3. Living shorelines provide greater habitat function than hard shorelines.
  4. Living shoreline methodologies that avoid or minimize channel-ward encroachment into subtidal areas minimize these trade-offs.

Reef Balls, have been successfully used as a Living Breakwater in various ecosystems, and at various depths.   The importance of living shorelines is emphasized by the science community,  NOAA, and the Army Corps of Engineers.   It’s time for everyone living on the shore to look at methods they can use to restore a living shoreline in their area.



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Reef Balls along Harlem River Park

Located in New York, the waterfront has shown tremendous improvement, in the last 5 years.    Kayakers, can enjoy paddling along the Reef Balls,  and the Bike Trail along the waterfront is claimed to be the best in America.    Everyone should note the planting of grasses along the sea wall.   “It’s Beautiful, not what I expected to see in New York” Jim McFarlane


“Environmental Justice

The environmental and social benefits are clear: Continuity of the corridor improves not only human free time, but also the ecosystem and the river’s quality. Artificial “reef balls” were arranged along the river in order to offer a better habitat for the fish, giving back a sense of additional environmental justice to all users — humans and animals alike.”

West Harlem Piers Park. Photo credit: Tatiana Choulika
West Harlem Piers Park. Photo credit: Tatiana Choulika


Project Awards:

  • 2009– Honor Award ASLA NY Chapter
  • 2009– The Waterfront Center Honor Award
  • 2006– AIA New York State Citation
  • 2005– AIA National Institute Honor Award for Regional & Urban Design
  • 2004– ASLA National Merit Planning & Analysis Award

Retreived from W Architecture

2015 Frozen Reef Balls / Frozen living shoreline

CT Frozen Reef Ball

Today we received a couple pictures of the CT Reef Balls. With the numerous freezes this winter the project is holding up, Dr. Jennifer Jennifer H. Mattei, Ph.D. Professor of Biology Sacred Heart University reports “Worst winter on record and the reef is still standing. Not a crumbled edge to be found and the reef has gone through numerous freeze and thaw cycles”.

frozen ball 2

CT Sacred Heart University researching on frozen living shoreline.

Living Shorelines for Homeowners! Florida, Alabama & Mississippi

In April Jim attended the Sea Grant sponsored workshop on Living Shorelines for Alabama and Mississippi.     It was great seeing the push for individual and groups of homeowners to re-establish living shorelines, and moving away from Sea Walls.   The science, various options and the legal issues were presented.  Below you will find links to the .pdf of their  presentations.    It was great seeing Reef Balls highlighted in most of the presentations. The Big Question is,   Do you need a breakwater, or just native plants? If you need a Breakwater,  what are the advantages of Reef Balls  over other structures.

  1. Permeability  (water passing threw)
  2. ph can be adjusted for the ecosystem your wish to recruit
  3. 22 years history of success in over 60 countries
  4. no toxic or hazardous materials
  5. surface area, and habitat for fish, invertebrates and in the right salinity oysters
  6. weight ratio  to  strength
  7. stability,   the design keeps in in place, and there are anchoring techniques available
  8. mimic natural reef systems and their ability to attenuate waves so that (beach) erosion is managed by natural like processes. 
  9. * An organizational  structure, designed to work with government, NGO’s, and volunteers
  10.   many more.

As you plan your living shoreline, be sure to check with Reef Innovations, for ideas on the product,  to see how you can be involved, or to purchase a turn key Living Shoreline.

Living Shorelines for Coastal Protection in Alabama and Mississippi- Agenda

8:30 a.m.

Vendor Fair and Coffee

9:00 a.m.


9:15 a.m.

Welcome, Objectives, and IntroductionsStatus of Living Shoreline Research: Where are we now?

  • Bret Webb, Univ. of South Alabama (PDF)
  • Stephen Jones, Geological Survey of Alabama (PDF)
  • Chris Boyd, Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant (PDF)

10:30 a.m.


10:45 a.m.

Living Shoreline Success Stories: Project Showcase

  • Carl Ferraro, Alabama Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources (PDF)
  • Ali Leggett, Mississippi Dept. of Marine Resources (PDF)
  • Zach Schang, Florida Dept. of Environmental Protection (PDF)

Meeting the Needs of Homeowners

  • Dottie Lawley, Mon Louis Island, AL
  • Victor Stevens, Florida

12:15 p.m.

Lunch – Networking Vendor Fair

1:15 p.m.

Liability Concerns for Contractors

  • Niki Pace, Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Legal Program (PDF)

Permitting Living Shorelines

  • Sandy Gibson, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Mobile District (PDF)
  • Willa Brantley, Mississippi Dept. of Marine Resources (PDF)
  • Carl Ferraro, Alabama Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources (PDF)

Homeowner Handbooks & Contractor Technical Bulletins

  • Willa Brantley, Mississippi Dept. of Marine Resources (PDF)
  • Tom Herder, Mobile Bay National Estuary Program (PDF)
  • Mike Shelton, Weeks Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (PDF)

Next Steps Discussion Session

3:45 p.m.


4:00 p.m.


Below are some additional links that might be usefull in planning your living shoreline.

  1. Living Shoreline Methodology  Amy Baldwin Moss, Fl Department of Environmental Protection, Ecosystem Restoration Program