The Potomac River is an iconic symbol of the diverse history and natural environment of the United States as well as the second largest tributary to the Chesapeake Bay. The River’s tidal shoreline at Leesylvania State Park in Prince William County, VA, has experienced an increase of shoreline erosion due to natural and anthropogenic causes. As one of only a few public beaches in Northern Virginia, the park is extremely popular with local residents with annual visitation well over 500,000 people.
To maintain the integrity of the shoreline in this popular section of the Potomac River, NVRC partnered with VA Dept. of Conservation, Prince William County, and the Virginia Institute of Marine Science to design, fund, and construct a living shoreline demonstration project. The idea was to construct rock sills to stabilize the shoreline and restore inter-tidal and near-shore habitat through beach nourishment and marsh plantings all while also educating park visitors about the project with tours and signs.
The design was completed and permitted in 2013 with funding from the Chesapeake Bay Trust. Construction was completed in 2016 with funding from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Dominion Energy, and Prince William County.
“It’s been really exciting to watch this project literally come to life over the past three years.”, said NVRC Coastal Program Manager Corey Miles. “We went from a highly eroded shoreline with dead trees falling into the river to a thriving tidal marsh full of native plants, minnows, insects, and birds in just a few years. It’s just a really great example of resilience in action.”
Living shoreline practices are effective at reducing sediment input into the river and protecting shorelines in low wave energy areas, such as the Potomac River and its tidal tributaries.
· 800 linear feet of stabilized shoreline
· 22,000 square feet of enhanced riparian buffer habitat
· 25,000 square feet of restored inter-tidal marsh and beach habitat
The project was recognized as a Virginia Treasure by then Governor Terry McAuliffe in 2016.
NVRC is proud of the work it undertakes with its partners across the region for the betterment of the communities we call home. Prior to the first frost of the season we encourage residents to visit the shoreline to see how a collaborative plan and working together makes a difference in Northern Virginia.
NVRC has also worked with the City of Alexandria and Arlington County on the Four Mile Restoration Project. It is another project worth the visit prior to the first frost.