Berner Living Shoreline Construction


The Chesapeake Bay Foundation is installing a 718 linear-foot living shoreline in Portsmouth, Virginia and we need your help. Skip the gym for a day or two and test your functional fitness skills with this living shoreline installation. This project involves a lot of bending and lifting. Must be 18 or older to participate. While this is a long-term project running from June to October, you can sign up to join us for as few or as many days as you would like.

A living shoreline is an erosion prevention tactic that can adapt to changing water levels and increased storm activity resulting from climate change. These attributes are critical in today's climate environment, where more intense storms and record rainfalls result in increased soil erosion, flooding, and polluted runoff. This project will include 2,400 oyster castles, 23 coconut fiber logs, 2,000 oyster shell bags, 3,000 wetland plants, and over 100 upland buffer plantings. Once completed, this property will have an additional 2,967 square-feet of wetland vegetation and 2,521 square-feet of oyster reef material. These additions will create habitat and will improve water quality and coastal resiliency along the Elizabeth River.

This project would not have been possible without the Elizabeth River Project's partnership and cost-share funding. Thanks to funding from the Chesapeake Oyster Alliance (COA), we are working with Natrx to test basalt oyster shell bags as an alternative to traditional plastic oyster shell bags. In addition, we are working with Environmental Quality Resources, LLC (EQR), using their "Sand Thrower" equipment to move sand from an upland location without any additional impact to the native wetlands.

Event Dates and Details

While each step of this project takes multiple days, you can sign up to participate on as few or as many days as you like.

June 12-June 16, 2023

Prep Week
We'll be moving material from Virginia Beach to Portsmouth and removing debris and material along the shoreline.

June 26-30, 2023

Sand Backfill Base Layer Installation
It's time to move wheelbarrows of sand to the shoreline and grade it.

July 10-14, 2023

Sand Base Layer & Oyster Castle Installation
We'll be completing the sand base layer and installing the first section of oyster castles. Volunteers need to be able to lift 30-40 pounds.

July 17-18, 2023

Oyster Castle Installation
We'll be moving and placing oyster castles along the shoreline. Volunteers need to be able to lift 30-40 pounds.

July 24-26, 2023

Shell Bags & Coir Logs Install
In this stage we'll be placing coir logs (coconut-fiber rolls) and bags of oyster shell along the shoreline. Bending and heavy lifting involved.

August 7-11, 2023

Sand Installation and Grading
EQR's Sand Thrower does the heavy lifting, but we need volunteers to grade the sand once placed along the shoreline.

August 14, 2023

Shoreline Planting
It's finally time to plant native wetland plants, grasses, shrubs, and trees along the shoreline.

October 9-10, 2023

Riparian Buffer Installation
In this final stage we'll plant an additional 2,000-square-feet of canopy and understory trees, small shrubs, and native perennials. Preserving this riparian buffer zone allows the adjacent marsh to migrate as sea level rises and impacts the property.

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.

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