The Town of Federalsburg was looking for a way to stabilize the ongoing erosion of the streambanks of the Marshyhope Creek, a tidal river that passes through this historic town on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.  The standard approach is to import riprap and create an armored hardscape stabilization of the bank.   Duffield Associates’ proposed a more natural approach to stabilize the streambank with a “living shoreline” stabilization technique using natural materials and native vegetation to reduce erosion.

The project area consisted of an approximately 800 ft long streambank area adjacent to the boat ramp in Federalsburg.  This section of the streambank showed severe erosion in some areas, apparently driven by wake action of the boats on the creek.  The proposed streambank stabilization design consisted of a vegetated mud sill along the tidal zone of the stream bank.  The mud sill was constructed from natural, hardwood logs that formed a chain of 8’ x 15’ cells along the streambank.   Within each cell, native plants were installed to help trap additional sediment and filter water.  The construction of the mud sill was accomplished with minimal disturbance with the stream.  The logs cells will become nearly invisible once the vegetation takes hold, and the resulting vegetated areas will provide wildlife habitat along the streambank.

In order to hold the logs in place, duckbill anchors were installed into the creek bank to depths of 6 feet, and the logs were cabled in place using stainless steel cable and hardware.   With this approach, the log frames of the cells will remain in place to provide stabilization while vegetation is becoming established over a several year period.

Locally harvested logs and locally grown native plants were utilized for the construction.  The log cell construction was completed in Winter 2013 and the planting was completed in Spring 2014.  The vegetation is continuing to establish and the living shoreline project is currently growing strong.

This project was the first of its kind in Maryland, and has been utilized has a demonstration project by the Maryland Department of the Environment.  With the success of this project, Duffield Associates has set the stage for others to use this natural living shoreline approach as a better, faster, more cost-effective and more environmentally- supportive alternative to riprap armoring in appropriate streambank settings.

This project received an Honor Award for ACEC Delaware’s 2015 Engineering Excellence Awards.