Landscapes are always changing and the shorelines of the South River are no exception. The South River Park community on Warehouse Creek in Edgewater has recently completed a restoration of a failing shoreline thanks to efforts from Master Watershed Steward Carolyn Ricketts and Community President Ken Malley. The property has been used for recreation dating back to the 20s and 30s. For the summer months, it was normal to bring in tons of sand to create a beach playground area as seen in the photo.
Mother Nature changed the waterfront over time and eventually the community installed a cinderblock wall to hold back the erosion in a time well before there were efforts to save our rivers and bay. Over the years, the cinderblock wall started to fail and finally became a hazard to the community around 2007.
With the current rules and regulations for waterfront construction, especially in the critical area, the South River Park community took on the task to restore the property in a way that best met their needs within current permit requirements. For example, the County and MDE no longer allow sand to be brought into certain beaches to create an artificial beach as the community had done in the past.
With 110 homes in South River Park Citizen’s Association, finding a solution to fit the community’s needs was sure to be a challenge. There were three options: 1) replace the cinder block wall, 2) install a smart slope wall with planted blocks and 3) install a natural shoreline across the waterfront with a natural rock formation to support the former wall. Carolyn, after completing the Watershed Stewards Program in 2009, promoted as natural of a solution as possible and consulted with many different people in the environmental field before approaching contractors to bid on the three options. After getting contractor bids on the options, number three was not only the least expensive but also blended the need for a stone wall with the ability to add in native plants. As the natural stone approach was the lowest cost it was selected by the evaluation committee and was confirmed by the community.
Brady Landscaping won the contract and accomplished the restoration the week of August 13th. While it will take a few years for all the new plants to grow, the results clearly show that a natural look restoration process worked for the community. In addition to planting spartina around the rock wall, invasive bamboo was removed and three separate conservation landscapes were planted on the beach with rose mallow, chokeberry, bay berry, nine bark, and high bush blueberry. There is also an access path down to the water making water access much easier than navigating the failing cinder block wall.
Carolyn and Ken learned a lot throughout this process and have a few recommendations for other communities wishing to do the same to their shorelines. Start by heavily researching the different options. Once you have a better understanding of what can be done, hold a community meeting where you carefully describe each option. Carolyn had given multiple presentations to the community to help them better understand the options. Be sure to outline the current County and State regulations for shorelines so that the community members have an understanding of what is possible and what is no longer allowed. Make sure to get solid quotes for the options as they relate to your specific site. Do not use estimates based on other projects because the variables could be different. After the presentations, talk with your community to get their feedback and see what they envision for the restored shoreline. Last but not least, get a good community partner to help you through the processes--This project took years of hard work. The South River Federation congratulates South River Park Citizen’s Association on a job well done!