Liv­ing shore­line cre­ated at Con­quest Beach

Record Observer - - Front Page - By MIKE DAVIS mdavis@kibay­times.com

CEN­TRE­VILLE — At the end of the long rocky road lead­ing to more than 750 acres of ac­tive and pas­sive re­cre­ation space is the newly cre­ated liv­ing shore­line that will fight fu­ture ero­sion at Con­quest Beach.

On Tues­day, Sept. 27, of­fi­cials from state and lo­cal gov­ern­ment or­ga­ni­za­tions gath­ered un­der the pavil­ion on the largest land hold­ing in the county’s park sys­tem to cel­e­brate the shore­line project’s com­ple­tion with a rib­bon cut­ting.

With more than three miles of shore­line touch­ing the

Cor­sica River to the south and the Ch­ester River to the north that was erod­ing, mem­bers of the Mary­land De­part­ment of Nat­u­ral Re­sources, the Wildlife Con­ser­va­tion So­ci­ety, the Na­tional Wildlife Fed­er­a­tion, Delmar va RC & D and the county gov­ern­ment funded and in­stalled the third cli­mate-smart liv­ing shore­line in the coun­try.

The liv­ing shore­line project, which cost $271,473 and was com­pleted on Au­gust 24, con­sisted of the in­stal­la­tion of 1,170 lin­ear feet of cob­ble­stone and sand, known as a “shin­gle beach.” A sand dune was cre­ated with marsh grass plant­ings — salt meadow hay, switch­grass and Amer­i­can beach grass — tak­ing up 41,880 square-feet.

Al­bert McCul­lough, project de­signer with Sus­tain­able Sci­ence, LLC, asked all in at­ten­dance to raise their hand if they were alive. He said those alive are de­fined by their past ex­pe­ri­ences, an ap­proach he took into de­sign­ing the shore­line sys­tem.

By look­ing at past his­tor­i­cal data, such as coastal charts from the 1840s or aerial pho­to­graphs from the 1930s, McCul­lough said he was able to “get a feel where the shore­line has been. Ev­ery shore­line is as unique as each per­son out here and to re­ally un­der­stand it you have to un­der­stand what the past is to un­der­stand where it’s go­ing for­ward.”

Get­ting an idea of what the shore­line was like, McCul­lough and his team were able to add new nat­u­ral ero­sion pre­ven­tion tech­niques. “To para­phrase a line from SNL: we need more cob­bles. I got the fever. We need more cob­bles.”

In the past, he said, hard sta­bi­liza­tion meth­ods were the prac­tice, such as solid rock along the shore­line. That idea evolved and in­cor­po­rated sand into the prac­tice. Cob­ble­stones, he said, were the miss­ing piece. He said the nat­u­ral tech­nique of cob­ble­stones to pre­vent ero­sion can be seen in the river sys­tems.

“Th­ese are nat­u­ral sys­tems,” McCul­lough said. “They’re ac­tu­ally larger pieces that can re­ally re­sist the wave cli­mate but also gives a di­ver­sity of sub­strate which would also trans­late into di­ver­sity of species. The knee bone con­nected to the thigh bone, to the hip bone. So it all comes to­gether.”

Bruce Stein, as­so­ci­ate vice pres­i­dent of the Na­tional Wildlife Fed­er­a­tion, com­mended the project for its in­no­va­tive­ness and ap­proach to tackle the in­creas­ing sea lev­els.

“One of the real chal­lenges that we had was to ask how could we both use na­ture to pro­tect shore­lines both for peo­ple and wildlife but do it In a way that can ac­tu­ally keep up with the chang­ing water lev­els,” he said. “And that’s re­ally at the heart of the shin­gle de­sign, an ap­proach that was in­tro­duced here.”

For Mark Bel­ton, sec­re­tary of the De­part­ment of Nat­u­ral Re­sources and for­mer Queen Anne’s County com­mis­sioner and ad­min­is­tra­tor, Con­quest Beach is at the fore­front of the state’s preser­va­tion ef­forts. Bel­ton said the project is one of a small hand­ful through­out the na­tion that in­cor­po­rates sea level rise pre­dic­tions proac­tively into its de­sign.

“Here at Con­quest Pre­serve, we’re putting in place an adap­ta­tion strat­egy to make our state more re­silient and pre­pared for the like­li­hood of cli­mate-re­lated weather change and events,” Bel­ton said.

Del. Steve Arentz read a mes­sage to the au­di­ence from Mary­land Trea­surer Nancy Kopp, and Jean­nie Had­daway-Riccio, deputy chief of staff for the gover­nor’s of­fice, pre­sented a ci­ta­tion signed by Gov. Larry Ho­gan, Lt. Gov. Boyd Ruther­ford and Mary­land Sec­re­tary of State John Woben­smith.

Af­ter the rib­bon-cut­ting cer­e­mony, of­fi­cials walked the beach and planted the re­main­ing grasses with gold shov­els in hand.

“In parks if you can get that bang for the buck where you serve the recre­ational needs of the pub­lic and also do re­sources con­ser­va­tion, that’s a real plus,” said Chip Price, Parks direc­tor.

Fol­low Mike Davis on Twit­ter: @mike_k­ibay­times.

PHOTO BY MIKE DAVIS

State and lo­cal of­fi­cials close out the liv­ing shore­line rib­bon cut­ting pre­sen­ta­tion at Con­quest Beach by plant­ing the re­main­ing plants. From left: Queen Anne’s County Com­mis­sioner Jack Wil­son, Mary­land De­part­ment of Nat­u­ral Re­sources Sec­re­tary Mark Bel­ton, Com­mis­sioner Jim Mo­ran, Del. Steve Arentz, Sen. Steve Her­shey, Na­tional Wildlife Fed­er­a­tion As­so­ci­ate Vice Pres­i­dent Bruce Stein, Jean­nie Had­daway-Riccio from the Gover­nor’s Of­fice and Com­mis­sioner Steve Wil­son.

PHOTO BY MIKE DAVIS

From left: Del. Steve Arentz, Sen. Steve Her­shey, the Gover­nor’s Deputy Chief of Staff Jean­nie Had­daway-Riccio, Mary­land De­part­ment of Nat­u­ral Re­sources Sec­re­tary Mark Bel­ton and Na­tional Wildlife Fed­er­a­tion As­so­ci­ate Vice Pres­i­dent Bruce Stein cut a rib­bon to com­mem­o­rate the com­ple­tion of the Con­quest Pre­serve Liv­ing Shore­line Project in Cen­tre­ville.

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