1. Do I need any permits to install a living shoreline?

Yes, permits are required for construction activity on the federal and state level adjacent to tidal and non-tidal waterbodies.  In tidal waterbodies, the State has jurisdiction channelward of the mean high water line (MHWL) and for Federal jurisdiction is channelward of the high tide line.  You can get a general idea of the MHWL location by going to the site at high tide or request a jurisdictional determination for an exact representation of State jurisdiction adjacent to tidal and non-tidal water features.  Further consultation with the regulatory agencies involved is advised if there are wetlands already on the property.

2. Who do I contact for more permitting information?

Federal Jurisdiction:
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE)
      Regulator of the Day: 215-656-6728

 State Jurisdiction:
DNREC, Wetlands & Subaqueous Lands Section (WSLS)
      Scientist of the Day: 302-739-9943
DNREC, Delaware Coastal Programs
      Questions: 302-739-9283

3. Since a living shoreline is a natural means to stabilize the shoreline, are there abbreviated ways to permit the project?

The ACOE offers Nationwide permits (NWPs) to expedite the permitting process.  In particular, NWP No. 13 for Bank Stabilization and NWP No. 54 for Living Shorelines are often applicable to the proposed project.  A pre-construction notification to the Army Corps may be required dependent upon the NWP, general conditions or regional conditions and the activity proposed. 

Additionally, the State offers The Statewide Activity Approval (SAA) for Shoreline Stabilization Projects in Tidal and Non-Tidal Waters of the State of Delaware in applying for the construction of a living shoreline.  Be sure to review the SAA to ensure the project is eligible for this simplified permitting process.

4. Do the abbreviated permitting processes apply to my freshwater shoreline project?

Yes, but you may want to first determine if the water feature is jurisdictional to the state and federal government.  This can be done by requesting a jurisdictional determination of state features or by hiring an environmental consultant for federal jurisdiction. 

5. Do I need to be a licensed marine contractor in order to install a living shoreline?

No, although it is recommended to hire an experienced professional to design and construct the living shoreline.  In Delaware, there is currently no licensing program for marine contractors.  However, the Permits authorizing the activity has special and general conditions that must be followed when installing the project.

6. Once my living shoreline is installed, do I need to get another permit in order to do maintenance activities?

Re-visit your permit approvals.  Routinely there is a special condition included that addresses maintenance activities.  If you are still unsure or would like to add an alternate method of stabilization than what was previously approved; reach out to the above-referenced delegated agencies for guidance.

Modifications to the project may require a separate approval.  A determination of the need for a separate approval will be made by the state office pursuant to the applicant submitting written notification and revised plans indicating project changes.

7. Since a living shoreline is an environmentally friendly project, is there financial assistance available?

Cost share funds are available intermittently.  At the time of application submittal to the WSLS, you may request for cost share assistance for the project.  The scientist assigned to the project will let you know if funding is available and applicable to your project.  If approved, cost share will be paid at 50% of the actual cost of the project, not to exceed $5,000.  In addition, the landowner must agree to maintain the practice for 3 years and is responsible to ensure vegetated coverage of at least 85% of the planted area with native species for three growing seasons.

8. What types of projects are eligible for the cost share program?

Projects that would be considered for financial assistance must have a vegetative component and are within the following parameters:

  • Shoreline stabilization projects that use natural shoreline plantings to control shoreline erosion without the use of rock or other shoreline hardening techniques.  (Shoreline stabilization projects in non-tidal waters that use any rock, rip-rap or other shoreline hardening techniques shall not be eligible for cost-share funding.)
  • Projects that use less than 1 cubic foot of rock per linear foot of shoreline in combination with vegetative components.  Note that the vegetative component must be at least twice the area of the footprint of the rock.  
  • Marsh toe sill revetment designs in tidal waters that use less than 0.5 cubic yard of rock per linear foot of shoreline and incorporate a vegetative component that is at least twice the area of the footprint of the rock toe.