Erosion is a serious threat to waterfront property along most of North Carolina's extensive estuarine shoreline. Shoreline erosion is a natural process caused by a gradual rise in sea level and prevailing wind and current conditions. But in many cases, it is accelerated by man's intensive use and mismanagement.
As demand for shoreline property increases - for homesites, recreational areas, marinas and industrial sites -- its value increases, and land owners become more concerned about loss of land to erosion.
Almost every shoreline erosion problem is unique and must be dealt with individually. There is a variety of erosion-control methods - some beneficial, some useless and others that are even detrimental.
Structural methods such as bulkheads, groins, revetments and riprap are often effective. But they are extensive to build and maintain and may have adverse environmental effects. Transplanting salt marsh vegetation is an alternative erosion-control method that is relatively inexpensive and effective on some shorelines (Figs 1, 2 and ). Establishing vegetation is much cheaper than structural methods of erosion control, and the new marsh provides habitat, food and nutrients for organisms in the surrounding estuarine waters.
Figure 1. Transplanted salt marsh grasses are an alternative erosion-control method