“Dig dig dig!” the shouts of chanting children echoed over the new dynamic living shoreline project at West River United Methodist Church Camp in Anne Arundel County. A cluster of campers surrounded two high-school aged kids with shovels as they furiously raced to dig the fastest hole that would soon be home to one of the many native plants that vegetate this project. We gathered together on that gray, cool summer morning with campers, politicians (including guests of honor Lt. Governor Boyd K Rutherford, Maryland DNR Secretary Jeannie Hadaway-Riccio, District 7 Representative Jessica Haire, and AACo Environmental Policy Director Matthew Johnston), and key players to celebrate the completion of the West River United Methodist Center Coastal Resilience Project with a planting event and ribbon-cutting ceremony.
This innovative project is the culmination of collaboration, creativity, and progressive minds. As the design/build contractor for this project, we partnered with West River United Methodist Church Camp, Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, and Maryland Department of Natural Resources to bring this dynamic living shoreline and regenerative stormwater conveyance project to fruition. It is the first project to be completed through Governor Hogan’s Resiliency Through Restoration initiative.
This West River shoreline was originally hardened with a failing bulkhead that left the waterfront vulnerable to rising tides, coastal storm surges, and torrents of stormwater runoff. Our nature-based project replaced the outdated bulkhead with 885 linear feet of dynamic living shoreline consisting of vegetated headlands, embayments, and a cobble beach. Additionally, the project addresses stormwater by creating 430 linear feet of a regenerative stormwater conveyance (RSC) system that uses a series of wetland pools to store and filter runoff.
The West River Coastal Resilience Project improves the ecosystem by reducing erosion, creating valuable habitat, providing food sources through native vegetation, and improving water quality by natural filtration. Although the dire warnings of climate change can be frightening, this project meets climate change head on as it looks to the future with hope and resiliency as its dynamic design protects infrastructure from the effects of climate change, such as intensifying storms and sea level rise. With creativity and collaboration on projects like this, we can prepare for a shifting climate and ensure the resiliency of our shorelines, infrastructure, wildlife, and the waters we love.