Ship Bottom Still a Contender for Living Shoreline Grant

Jul 26, 2017
Photo by: Jack Reynolds

Ship Bottom Councilman Joe Valyo is hopeful the borough will be on the receiving end of state funding to stop bay beach erosion occurring just south of the boat ramp.

In May, the borough submitted a proposal to the state Department of Environmental Protection outlining a natural shoreline infrastructure project for the area. The state, according to a recent letter Valyo received, garnered 44 proposals totaling more than $30 million. It has only $10.5 million earmarked in grant money, he said.

A natural, or living, shoreline uses sand fill, indigenous wetland plants and stone to preserve the shoreline and save the habitat from further destruction. Fixing the erosion problem there would help minimize flooding and runoff in the area and along Shore Avenue, he said.

“We haven’t been total no, and we’ve been ranked,” Valyo said, noting the state is still considering all the proposals it received and is expected to release its rankings for the projects during the first week of August. “We are still in the ballpark. My sincere hope is that we hang in there.”

A natural or living shoreline will absorb wave energy, negating its ability to erode the coastline in that area. It also reduces nutrient runoff while maintaining the natural ecology of the area. Bulkheads perform in the exact opposite way of a natural shoreline, reflecting wave energy and increasing attrition. They are expensive to sustain and aren’t a long-lasting answer.

“The logical thing is to make it natural, the way it’s supposed to be,” Valyo said of stopping the beach erosion. Additionally, the borough isn’t permitted to install a bulkhead to address the erosion due to its negative environmental impact, he said.

The area in question is eroding into the bay and causing harm on shore, the councilman said. “We’ve tried rock and riprap to minimize it. It slows it down” but doesn’t stop it from occurring, Valyo said.

A living shoreline, while still a relatively new concept in New Jersey, has been used nationwide for years. Natural shorelines last without detracting from the local ecosystem but aren’t suitable for high-energy shoreline areas, according to the American Littoral Society.

 Gina G. Scala

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