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Division of Land Use Regulation
State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection

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Bank Stabilization

  • Overview
  • Freshwater Wetlands
  • Flood Hazard
  • Coastal
  • Tidelands

Bank Stabilization is in the context of the Division of Land Use Regulations has nothing to do with the financial system, but rather, with the embankments along tidal and non-tidal waterways such as streams and rivers and along ponds and lakes. Sometimes, due to human and non-human causes, an embankment suffers erosion and/or instability. Left unchecked, it may eventually stabilize, but this could result in large amounts of sediment being introduced into the environment, as well as continued erosion and possible hazard to life and property. In cases such as these, a bank stabilization project is often used to modify the embankments of a waterway in order to stablize it.

Activities, including bank stabilization, may disturb special areas of the State that are regulated by the Department, may require an approval from the Division prior to construction. An area containing sensitive and endangered plant species for example, may be irreparably damaged by such activities. It is important therefore to closely examine a proposed project relative to the sensitive areas which may be impacted.

Bank stabilization may require multiple approvals from the Division, depending on the special areas impacted by the project. If you don't know what special areas are on your site, please check out the before you buy, before you build section of this website for guidance on determining if your site has one of these regulated special areas on it.

For information on Land Use permit requirements for bank stabilization within specific "special areas", please click on each of the tabs above.*

*For impacts to Streams, Rivers, Lakes, Ponds, Flood Plains, Flood Way, Riparian Zones and other water body related areas, please click on the "Flood Hazard" tab. For impacts to special coastal areas, please click on the "Coastal" tab. For impacts to Freshwater Wetlands, click on the "Freshwater Wetlands" tab. Information on Tidelands can be found in the "Tidelands" tab.

Bank stabilization within freshwater wetlands, transition areas, and/or State open waters requires a Freshwater Wetlands (FWW) permit.

A FWW General Permit 20 -- Bank stabilization) is available for this type of activity. To be eligible for a GP20, the total length of bank stabilization proposed can be no more than 150 feet of riprap or [gabion baskets] OR no more than 300 feet of soil-bioengineering (i.e. a combination of hard armoring and vegetative methods). There is no length limit for a project that will consist only of vegetative planting measures.

If the bank stabilization project cannot comply with the criteria for a GP20, the applicant would need to apply for an Individual Permit (IP). An IP application would need to include a description as to why the project cannot be minimized to satisfy the General Permit criteria described under the GP20 link above.

Definitions: Rip-rap: a foundation or sustaining wall of stones or chunks of concrete thrown together without order on an embankment slope to prevent erosion

Gabion baskets: a basket or cage filled with earth or rocks placed along an embankment slope to prevent erosion

The only potential qualifying Permit by Rule (PBR) associated with streambank stabilization is found in N.J.A.C. 7:13-7.2(a)5, which is for the use of machinery to remove a major obstruction from a regulated water.  Please note, this PBR does not authorize the disturbance of trees within the riparian zone nor does it authorize the removal of accumulate sediment from a regulated water.

The only potential qualifying general permit associated with streambank stabilization is a Flood Hazard Area General Permit No. 2A, for agricultural activities only.

All other activities that do not qualify for a PBR or general permit must apply for a Flood Hazard Area Individual Permit.  It is important to note, streams are dynamic in nature and as such, any proposed design should be based on stressors that are watershed based, not local.  Vegetation measures are preferred over hard armoring

Bank and/or shoreline stabilization activities are conducted to protect eroding shorelines from experiencing further erosion. Within CAFRA, Waterfront Development and/or Coastal Wetlands jurisdiction, these activities generally require a permit. The current regulations do not allow for coastal exemptions from the permitting requirements or provide any permits-by–rule for these activities. If your intended project consists of the construction of a bulkhead, please review the section on bulkheads under the “Lists of Common Project Types” section of the website.
Please refer to  the “Jurisdiction” section of the “Coastal Permitting” section of this webpage to determine which areas regulated under the Coastal Permit Program Rules (N.J.A.C. 7:7-1.1 et seq.) and the Coastal Zone Management Rules (N.J.A.C. 7:7E-1.1 et seq.) occur on your site. The availability of certain permits for a project depends on where the project is proposed.
If the project does not meet the requirements for one of the available coastal general permits for bank stabilization activities, the project will generally require a Waterfront Development, CAFRA, and /or Coastal Wetlands Individual Permit. Additional information regarding the Division’s coastal program can be found on the “Coastal Permitting” section of this website. If necessary, please contact the Division’s Technical Support Center for further assistance.

These coastal general permits may apply to your project --

  • Coastal General Permit 11 authorizes the construction of a revetment at a single family home or duplex. For further information regarding the limitations and requirements of this general permit, please refer to N.J.A.C. 7:7-7.11.
  • Coastal General Permit 12 authorizes the the construction of gabions at a single family or duplex home. For further information regarding the limitations and requirements of this general permit, please refer to N.J.A.C. 7:7-7.12.
  • Coastal General Permit 21 authorizes the stabilization of eroded shorelines utilizing live branch cuttings, live facings, live stakes, vegetative cuttings, vegetated earth buttresses, choir fiber products, fiber plugs, plants and clusters, selected plant materials, fiber pallets, fiber carpet, and wood stake anchor systems. For further information regarding the limitations and requirements of this general permit, please refer to N.J.A.C. 7:7-7.21.
  • Coastal General Permit 29 allows for the construction of living shorelines provided it meets all of the applicable the requirements of the general permit.  Please refer to N.J.A.C. 7:7-7.29 for more information.

Tidelands, also known as riparian lands, are all those lands now or formerly flowed by the mean high tide of a natural waterway; that is to say any land that is currently or was previously covered by tidal waters. The State of New Jersey, and therefore the people of New Jersey, owns all Tidelands except for those to which it has already sold its interest in the form of a riparian grant. It is important to note that the State generally does not own artificial waterways such as lagoons however, the State does claim those lands within a lagoon that were flowed by the mean high tide of a natural waterway which existed prior to the creation of the lagoon.

Bank Stabilization that is proposed in a tidelands area may require a tidelands license if the activities are taking place at or below the mean high water line of a tidal waterway or a tidelands grant if the activities are taking place in an area that is currently landward of the mean high water line but was, at some point, flowed by the tide.

A tidelands license is a short term revocable rental document to use tidelands generally for structures such as docks, bulkhead extensions, mooring piles, and other temporary structures as well as for dredging projects. Licenses are project specific and expire after a finite term ranging from one to ten years. Most licenses may be renewed.

A riparian grant, or tidelands grant, is a deed from the State of New Jersey selling its tidelands. Tidelands grants are generally only issued for lands that have already been filled in and are no longer flowed by the tide.

For more information on tidelands instruments, please see the tidelands section of this website.

For information and instruction on how to determine whether you are in an area that may require either a license or a grant, or for information how to apply for Tideland instruments please see the "Before you Build, Before you Buy" webpage.

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Last Updated: January 9, 2014