restoring the shoreline

Note: On Monday, October 26th, I went to the groundbreaking at the Sandy Beach Park Club for the restoration of the club’s shoreline. The Buffalo-Niagara Riverkeeper is doing the restoration, which entails removing the hardened shoreline and replacing it with a living shoreline. A hardened shoreline has a lot of concrete and rip rap. Rip rap is defined as loose stones used to form the foundation of a breakwater or other structures. A hard shoreline can actually increase soil erosion because the water crashes onto the concrete and goes over, carrying off good soil in the process. 

An organic shoreline consists of native plants: perennials, shrubs, and trees. Logs can be placed in the water and some rocks can be used. This is Woods Creek. At this point, its shoreline is covered in perennials, shrubs, and some trees. There are other places where the homeowners who own riparian rights (the shoreline is part of their property) have mowed to the water’s edge. Like the hardened shoreline, the shoreline that has only grass on it is also at increased risk for erosion. That is because, unlike native plants, grass has shallow roots, making it easier to wash away, along with the soil.
This is what the hardened shoreline looks like. All of that concrete is going to be removed.
This is a natural shoreline at Buckhorn Island State Park. There are a lot of tall grasses bordering the marsh. Perennials, shrubs, and trees are good choices for planting alongside a creek or river. Grand Island, New York, is in the USDA zone 5a. It has heavy clay soil, and water does not absorb into the soil quickly. What you want are plants that can handle having wet roots, especially those plants on a shoreline. Some trees that do well with wet roots are swamp white oak, pin oak, and willow.
Erie County issued a proclamation, showing its support of Riverkeeper’s project. 
Of course, in a groundbreaking, it’s necessary to break the ground. This is purely ceremonial because, to break the stuff that needs to be removed (the concrete), each one of these folks would have to be equipped with a jackhammer, and the noise would be deafening. All birds would fly away, and the squirrels would race away at top speed. Even the fish would depart the premises rapidly. The humans would cover their ears and they, also, would probably run off (or rapidly drive away)…
… before eating their cake. After all, what groundbreaking for a living shoreline would be complete without a living shoreline cake?

And to wash it down, there was champagne. A groundbreaking is definitely sufficient reason to indulge in champagne before lunch.
As the project progresses, I will continue to document it with photographs and will keep you updated, right here at “Alice’s Grand Adventures.” 

1 thought on “restoring the shoreline”

  1. Well, I learned something today. I didn't know hard shoreline materials were counter-productive. That's why the wetlands in the UK work so well and allow the floods to invade the shoreline. Best of luck with your endevors.

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