Point Pleasant, NJ - On Saturday, May 11 the American Littoral Society, project partners and a host of volunteers executed the next stage of a unique project to restore an eroded shoreline at Slade Dale Sanctuary in Point Pleasant, NJ.
A first-of-its-kind project for New Jersey, the restoration work involved using recycled Christmas trees placed in branchbox breakwaters and tree vanes to help re-establish the shoreline of a salt marsh in the sanctuary which has eroded approximately 300 feet over the past century.
"We're excited to be taking the next step in our work in this area," said Capt. Al Modjeski, Habitat Restoration Director for the Littoral Society. "This is a great opportunity to show how living shorelines can provide a low-cost, natural solution to a long-term problem."
In addition to the hands-on work, partners and officials such as Point Pleasant Mayor Robert A. Sabosik will be onsite at 10:30 a.m. to offer brief remarks, as well as insight on how this work and similar projects can help protect and restore coastal sites threatened by rising sea levels.
Located in Point Pleasant, NJ, Slade Dale Sanctuary is a 13-acre preserve situated along the North Branch of Beaverdam Creek, a tidal tributary that flows into the larger Metedeconk River and, eventually, Barnegat Bay.
The Sanctuary’s pine-oak forest, hardwood swamp, and salt marsh provide a space of protected wilderness in an otherwise heavily developed coastal area of NJ. The salt marsh at Slade Dale helps protect uplands from flooding during storms. It also provides nursery habitat for fish, and foraging habitat for birds such as osprey, egrets, and bald eagles.
Unfortunately, Slade Dale Sanctuary is disappearing. The shoreline has eroded approximately 300 feet since 1930, and almost all low marsh habitat has been lost.
In addition, the current vegetation composition of the site shows evidence of marsh retreat: dead or dying upland tree species in current wetland areas suggest these locations were previously upland and have since become inundated as the shoreline eroded.
"The sanctuary has been losing ground for years," said Zack Royle, American Littoral Society Habitat Restoration Technician. "What our work will do is not only stop the loss, but help nature build it back into something that is both protective and beautiful."
In September 2018, the American Littoral Society oversaw the installation by Atlantic Dock and Bulkhead of over 300 wooden pilings in the area affected by erosion. Those pilings are the foundation breakwaters and Christmas tree vanes that will prevent further erosion, foster sedimentation, and restore low marsh habitat at Slade Dale.
Project partners include: New Jersey Corporate Wetlands Partnership, Borough of Point Pleasant, The Nature Conservancy, Point Pleasant Rotary Club, and Princeton Hydro.
Sometimes referred to as nature-based, green, or soft shorelines, living shorelines use natural materials such as plants, sand or rock to stabilize the shoreline, reduce erosion, and provide valuable habitat. They also tend to be far less expensive to construct and maintain that hard structures.
Living shorelines are an alternative to hardened shoreline structures such a bulkheads and seawalls. Unlike hard structures, which impede the growth of plants and animals, living shorelines grow over time.
“This project is a model for other living shoreline efforts, puts our sustainable principles into action and reflects wonderful partnerships with the town, US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Corporate Wetlands Partnership” said Tim Dillingham, Executive Director of the American Littoral Society.
The Littoral Society is also conducting biological monitoring around the site to help determine how the living shoreline affects animal life.to edit.