Testifying on Behalf of Living Shorelines

StJohn living shoreline 1171x593

A living shoreline of marsh grasses fronted by a biolog works well in these calm cove waters.

Rob Schnabel/CBF Staff

Maryland student Kate Johnson recently spoke on behalf of critical legislation in front of the state General Assembly.

One of the most intimidating, but incredibly impactful, forms of advocacy is to testify in a public hearing. But that did not discourage 16-year-old Kate Johnson from speaking up on behalf of an important living shorelines bill during the 2024 Maryland General Assembly session.

Living shorelines—shoreline stabilization techniques that include natural gradients and living elements like marshes, oyster reefs, and underwater grasses—connect land to water, stabilize soil, and provide valuable habitat in ways that costly bulkheads and stone revetments do not. Despite the clear directive established by Maryland’s 2008 living shorelines law, a significant number of waivers to this requirement continued to be granted, resulting in nearly 2,000 miles of armoring, representing more than 25 percent of all of the state's shoreline.

CBF and partners are supporting legislation (Senate Bill 546 and House Bill 655) that would build on the landmark 2008 law to clarify a portion of the waiver provision related to the replacement of existing hardened shoreline and expand the uses of waterway impact fee revenues to include grants for replacing armored shorelines with living shorelines. But first, we have to get the bills passed.

On February 21, Kate spoke before the House Environment and Transportation Committee on the importance of HB655 and urged Maryland legislators to support its passage. Here is a written copy of her testimony from the hearing:

Young girl standing in the atrium of a building

High school student Kate Johnson prepares to give testimony at the Maryland State House in Annapolis.

Valerie Keefer/CBF Staff

Good afternoon. My name is Kate Johnson, and I am currently in high school. I am testifying in support of HB655, a bill that enforces requirements, such as prohibiting the exemption of shoreline stabilization requirements. This bill would also protect the current living shorelines from being replaced and encourage more shorelines to be created.

Living shorelines are important because they bring habitat, biodiversity, and aesthetics to our community.

First of all, the economy is positively affected by living shorelines since we sell seafood—many [Maryland] restaurants sell oysters, fish, crabs, and much more. If the supply of native species is stable, businesses will flourish and vice versa.

Fishermen would also be impacted if the population of seafood continues to decrease. However, living shorelines can support the aquatic population by rejuvenating their habitat and cleansing the water.

Next, the materials living shorelines are made from—such as Bay grasses, rocks, and oyster shells—aid in reducing coastal erosion since they can absorb wave energy and, in return, minimize flooding. As we all know, Annapolis floods easily.

Overall, HB655 will hold MDE and landowners responsible [for replacing hardened shorelines with living shorelines]. We need living shorelines to provide habitat, support native species, stabilize shorelines, and create a healthier Bay.

Thank you.


Kirsten Hower

Digital Advocacy and Outreach Manager, CBF

Issues in this Post

Advocacy   Living Shorelines   CBF in Maryland  


The views and opinions expressed in the media or articles on this site are those of the speakers or authors and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions held by CBF and the inclusion of such information does not imply endorsement by CBF. CBF is not responsible for the contents of any linked Website, or any link contained in a linked Website, or any changes or updates to such Websites. The inclusion of any link is provided only for information purposes.

The Bay Needs You

The State of the Bay Report makes it clear that the Bay needs our support now more than ever. Your donation helps the Chesapeake Bay Foundation maintain our momentum toward a restored Bay, rivers, and streams for today and generations to come.

Donate Today

Save the Bay

Founded in 1967, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) is the largest independent conservation organization dedicated solely to saving the Bay.

Save the Bay
This website uses cookies to tailor and enhance your online experience. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. For more information, including details on how to disable cookies, please visit our Privacy Policy. Close