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Marsh Sills General Permit Now Available

An example of a marsh sill. Photo: File

RALEIGH — The state Division of Coastal Management has streamlined the paperwork for residents who want to install marsh sills, a type of living shoreline.

The state Coastal Resources Commission approved during its quarterly meeting Feb. 27 the amended general permit for marsh sills, which went into effect Monday.

The general permit served as the basis for a regional general permit for marsh sills issued by the Corps of Engineers March 26, according to a release from DCM, a part of the state Department of Environmental Quality.

The general permit allows DCM to issue general permits for marsh sills without a case-by-case federal review in many situations, which was previously required.

“We hope this streamlined permitting process will help promote marsh sills going forward,” Braxton Davis, director of the Division of Coastal Management, said in a statement. “We will continue to explore incentives to advance the use of living shorelines in the future.”

A marsh sill, which is made of wood or rock designed to protect existing or newly planted wetland vegetation, runs parallel to the shore to protect the marsh by dissipating wave energy, giving the marsh a chance to flourish, according to DEQ. Once established, the marsh grasses will buffer wave energy and wave height to help to reduce erosion further inland.

DCM has been promoting over the last few years living shorelines as alternatives to traditional bulkheads and revetments for shoreline stabilization and erosion control in the state’s estuarine areas, according to the release.

Most recently, DCM worked with stakeholders to streamline the permitting process for marsh sills including United States Army Corps of Engineers, marine science community, state Division of Water Resources, state Division of Marine Fisheries, North Carolina Coastal Federation, North Carolina Sea Grant and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Based on recommendations, DCM drafted the amended general permit for marsh sills that CRC approved.

“Living shorelines maintain existing connections between upland, intertidal, and aquatic areas while providing shoreline erosion control,” the release states. “Additionally, observations after Hurricane Florence indicate that living shorelines, including marsh sills, outperformed nearby bulkheads by dissipating wave energy and reducing shoreline erosion.”

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The story was compiled by staff members of Coastal Review Online.