Streamlined Permitting for Living Shorelines is a Win for the Inland Bays

Around the Inland Bays, shorelines have been “hardened” with bulkheads or rip rap to protect against erosion. But, ironically, these structures often increase the rate of shoreline erosion. They also eliminate the sandy beaches and marshes that support shore birds and other marine animals.

A living shoreline is alternative to using bulk heading or rip rap. It defends against erosion while protecting the natural shorelines that provide the feeding, spawning, and nursery areas for wading birds, horseshoe crabs, terrapins, fish, and other aquatic life.

Using a variety of structural and organic materials such as wetland plants, oyster shell and reefs, coir fiber logs, sand, and stone, a living shoreline can be designed to halt erosion while preserving the natural function and beauty of the beach or marsh.

“The protection of natural shorelines, and the use of living shorelines where shorelines are being managed, is a priority for the Delaware Center for the Inland Bays,” says Executive Director, Chris Bason. “Living shorelines improve water quality because the marsh vegetation filters pollution from the land before it reaches the water, and living shorelines are often more resilient than hardened shorelines in the face of storms, flooding and sea level rise.”

At the close of 2015, the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control adopted a Statewide Activity Approval (SAA) for Shoreline Stabilization Projects in Tidal and Non-tidal Waters of the State of Delaware that makes it easier for property owners and their contractors to obtain a permit to create a living shoreline to manage shoreline erosion.

The intent of the SAA is to promote the use of living shoreline stabilization techniques by providing an abbreviated permit application review process. “This action will make it easier to obtain permits for living shoreline projects. Creating good policy that streamlines the process for homeowners and contractors to protect their shoreline from erosion and protect the Inland Bays is a win-win,” Bason says.

Development of the SAA was initiated by the statewide Living Shorelines Committee, a working partnership that was convened by the Delaware Center for the Inland Bays in 2014, and includes DNREC, the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary, the University of Delaware, engineering firms, and others interested in promoting the use of living shorelines.

To view the Statewide Activity Approval (SAA) for Shoreline Stabilization Projects, go to

For more information on living shorelines, go to

The Delaware Center for the Inland Bays is a non-profit organization established in 1994, one of 28 National Estuary Programs. With its many partners, the Center works to preserve, protect, and restore Delaware’s Inland Bays, the water that flows into them, and the watershed around them.