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New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services

Living Shoreline Initiatives

What is a Living Shoreline?

Newly planted marsh grasses grow at the Cutts Cove living
shoreline restoration site with the Sarah Mildred Long Bridge in
the background in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Photo credit: UNH

A living shoreline is a management practice that provides erosion control benefits, protects, restores, or enhances natural shoreline habitat, and maintains coastal processes through the strategic placement of plants, stone, sand fill, and other structural organic materials, maintaining the continuity of the natural land-water interface while providing habitat value and protecting against coastal hazards.

Increasing erosion and inundation of coastal wetlands due to sea-level rise and storms threaten property and natural resources in New Hampshire. Historic shoreline stabilization practices of rip rap (rock walls), revetments, and seawalls can actually make erosion worse, destroy intertidal habitat, and alter sediment transport patterns. For these reasons, hard structural solutions are either the least preferred alternative or prohibited in sensitive coastal areas. In suitable areas, living shorelines present a resilient approach to shoreline stabilization that can protect people, property, and important coastal habitats.

The Coastal Program is working with partner organizations to advance understanding, application and success of living shoreline stabilization approaches in coastal New Hampshire.

New Hampshire Living Shoreline Site Suitability Assessment

The New Hampshire Living Shoreline Site Suitability Assessment (L3SA) is intended to help interested stakeholders identify sites that are suitable for specific living shoreline approaches in order to address erosion issues along the New Hampshire tidal shoreline. The L3SA evaluates living shoreline suitability using spatial data about the state's tidal shoreline and characteristics unique to the Northeast such as a short growing season, effects of ice, nor'easters, and large tidal range. The L3SA assigns a suitability index number between 1 (less suitable) and 6 (highly suitable) to points along the shoreline.

Project products:

  • Technical Report Adobe Acrobat Reader Symbol
  • Mapping Tool
  • Property Profile: To order a free Property Profile summarizing living shoreline site suitability results for a specific property along the NH tidal shoreline, please contact Coastal Program staff Kirsten Howard at or (603) 559-0020.

The L3SA was published by the Coastal Program in partnership with the NOAA Office for Coastal Management, the Great Bay Stewards, the New Hampshire Department of Fish and Game Great Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (GBNERR), The Nature Conservancy New Hampshire, and the Northeast Regional Association of Coastal Ocean Observing Systems.

Regional Living Shoreline Projects

As a member of the Northeast Regional Ocean Council (NROC), the NHDES Coastal Program is working with other Northeast state coastal zone management programs and The Nature Conservancy Massachusetts (TNC-MA) to advance understanding of living shoreline approaches in New England. Additional New Hampshire partners on this work include the Great Bay Stewards, GBNERR, and the University of New Hampshire, and funds were provided by NOAA's Office for Coastal Management.

Phase I: State of the Practice of Living Shorelines in New England | 2016-2019

In Phase I of the regional living shoreline efforts, project partners published a Living Shorelines State of the Practice Report, developed profiles for living shoreline archetypes, evaluated regulatory issues associated with living shoreline practices, hosted workshops, and worked with local communities and stakeholders to advance living shoreline projects.

Phase II: Applying and Monitoring Living Shoreline Projects in New England | 2017-2020

A sign deters foot traffic at an eroding shoreline that will soon be
restored to fringing salt marsh along the Oyster River at Wagon
Hill Farm in Durham New Hampshire. Photo Credit: Kirsten Howard

In Phase II of regional living shoreline efforts, the Northeast state coastal zone management programs are working with NROC and TNC-MA to build living shoreline projects and implement consistent regional monitoring approaches that enable comparison of project effectiveness across states.

Pilot projects in coastal New Hampshire are in various phases of construction and monitoring. Sites include fringe salt marsh restoration at North Mill Pond in Portsmouth, a rip rap replacement with fringe marsh creation at Cutts Cove in Portsmouth, an erosion management fringe marsh creation at Wagon Hill Farm in Durham, and dune enhancement in Hampton and Seabrook.

Programs to Help You Learn More

The Coastal Program is working with partners at the University of New Hampshire (UNH), including UNH Extension and NH Sea Grant, as well as the Great Bay Stewards and GBNERR, to provide assistance to coastal landowners and professionals interested in utilizing living shoreline approaches.

The New Hampshire Coastal Landowner Technical Assistance Program

The Coastal Landowner Technical Assistance Program (LTAP) provides consistent assistance to interested coastal landowners to help understand coastal flood and erosion risks and restoration opportunities, clarify goals for managing their property, and identify conceptual options that may enhance the resilience of their properties, neighborhoods and community's natural resources. LTAP provides site visits to participating properties along with targeted risk assessment and guidance information. If you are a coastal landowner interested in learning more about how to manage erosion on your property using living shorelines by participating in LTAP, please contact Kirsten Howard at the Coastal Program to sign up ( or (603) 559-0020).

The Living Shoreline Professionals Network

The Living Shoreline Professionals Network is a group of practitioners, including but not limited to coastal engineers, project managers, contractors, landscape architects, and other landscape professionals, interested in applying living shoreline approaches in their work. The LS Network meets quarterly to discuss projects, issues, and opportunities. If you are a professional interested in networking with others involved in living shoreline work, please contact Kirsten Howard at the Coastal Program to sign up ( or (603) 559-0020).



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NH Department of Environmental Services | 29 Hazen Drive | PO Box 95 | Concord, NH 03302-0095
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