Camp Occohannock Living Shoreline

A novel approach to combating shoreline erosion is taking shape on the Eastern Shore.

Wave action from storms like Hurricane Sandy has caused undercutting and erosion along the shoreline, threatening both infrastructure and vital habitat.

Occohannock on the Bay Camp and Retreat Center in Belle Haven, VA hosts children and families throughout the year, making it an ideal site for demonstrating living shoreline approaches to the surrounding community.

Excavators were used to build the sills, moving 700 metric tons of granite rock by rock, according to the design specifications. This sill, the first to be built on the southernmost end of the shoreline is 3.5 feet in height and 180 feet long.

Before the rock sills were built, a thick plaster filter cloth was placed in the footprint of the sill to better distribute the collective weight of the stone, limit settling and lowering of the sill elevation, contribute to structural integrity, and contain sand fill.

700 cubic feet of sand was added to the shoreline to create a new salt marsh behind the rock sills.

Large, undercut trees - many dying with exposed roots - were removed from the unstable and eroded banks. New trees and shrubs will be planted in a marsh buffer along the south side of the property.

View of the completed shoreline project prior to grass planting.

Tidal openings between the sills like this one are designed to allow tidal flushing and maintain the land and water connection for use by fish, crab, shellfish, and other living marine resources.

Volunteers planted 4,000 plugs of Spartina patens, or saltmeadow hay, in the upper beach over two days. Marsh grasses will spread underground by rhizomes and the spaces between the plants will fill in naturally after only one growing season.

The shoreline with completed goose exclusion fences. Volunteers erected over 2,500 feet of fencing around the three areas of marsh grass planting to protect the young plants.

Day two volunteer team after planting 4,000 plants and erecting over 2,500 feet of goose exclusion fence! We couldn't have done it without them!

One month later. As the marsh grasses fill in, young campers will be able to explore the wonders of the salt marsh with all its critters and crawlers. Return to story


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