The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s Division of Watershed Stewardship in partnership with public and private environmental organizations introduced the Delaware Living Shorelines Monitoring Framework.

The tool will help landowners, professionals, and scientists develop plans for gauging the success of living shoreline projects installed throughout the state.

Living shorelines are a natural and effective way to stabilize a shoreline, reduce erosion, and provide beneficial habitat in coastal environments. Living shorelines provide a natural alternative to hard shoreline stabilization methods such as bulkheads and riprap, with the “softer” alternatives offering numerous benefits over hard stabilization options, including providing wildlife habitat and runoff remediation.

The monitoring framework was created by the Delaware Living Shorelines Committee, comprising professionals from DNREC, National Estuary Programs, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the University of Delaware, Delaware State University, and private engineering and consulting companies. The committee provides practitioners and researchers the opportunity to discuss current living shoreline projects in Delaware, along with upcoming projects and enables them to stay informed on new policies or techniques.

The framework outlines how to identify and prioritize living shoreline project goals — such as shoreline stabilization, habitat creation and water quality improvement — and other objectives. The step-by-step framework helps a user assess whether a living shoreline is developing correctly for each goal and how to manage a site better if the living shoreline’s performance is lagging. For example, if vegetation is not growing as it should, the framework spells steps that can be taken to improve growing conditions.

The monitoring framework can be found at delawarelivingshorelines.org, under “Additional Resources — Research.” The document allows for varying levels of expertise, technology, expense and effort to create a custom monitoring plan based on the goals of each project or site. The resulting monitoring plan will tell a user what information to collect about a project and how and when to collect it throughout the year.

For more, email alison.rogerson@state.de.us or dkreeger@delawareestuary.org.