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

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Living Shoreline Creation Activities

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

The creation of living shorelines serve as a way of protecting vegetated shorelines, beaches, and habitat in the littoral zone of a waterway from the effects of erosion.  Living shorelines can be categorized into three specific types which are natural, hybrid, and structural living shorelines.  The creation of a natural living shoreline involves the use of strictly natural vegetation, such as submerged aquatic vegetation, fill and biodegradable organic materials.  The creation of a hybrid living shoreline incorporates the use the natural vegetation or biodegradable organic materials along with low-profile rock structures such as segmented sills, stone containment, and living breakwaters seeded with native shellfish.  The creation of a structural living shoreline involves the use of hard structures such as revetments, breakwaters, and groins.  The type of living shoreline utilized along the shore is dependent upon the characteristics of the site, such as wave action and the strength of the current of the waterway.

The creation of a living shoreline 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 contains one of these regulated special areas.

For information on Land Use permit requirements for the creation of living shorelines 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 building within state owned riparian lands can be found in the "Tidelands" tab.

It is unlikely that living shoreline creation activities would impact freshwater wetlands. Should an area of coastal wetlands be impacted by this activity, and should that coastal wetland not appear on the promulgated coastal wetlands mapping, then the Department may take jurisdiction over that wetland under the Freshwater Wetlands Protection Act and Freshwater Wetlands Protection Act Rules. Please see the Freshwater Wetlands Section of this website for more information.

It is likely that the construction of a living shore line would extend both above and below the mean high water line in tidal flood hazard areas.  The portions of living shore lines located both within tidal flood hazard areas and below the mean high water line are not regulated under the Flood Hazard Area Control Act Rules as long as a coastal permit of any type is obtained from the Division of Land Use Regulation for the construction.

For the portions of the living shore line located within a tidal flood hazard area, but above the mean high water line, the applicant need only submit a report and plans demonstrating compliance with the Flood Hazard Area Control Act Rules as part of the coastal permit application. 

Living shore lines that are proposed to be constructed in fluvial (non-tidal) flood hazard areas are regulated under the Flood Hazard Area Control Act Rules and will require a permit. These will be reviewed under the bank stabilization/channel restoration section of the rules. Please refer to “bank stabilization” on the list of common project types for more information if construction in a fluvial flood hazard area is proposed.

The creation of a living shoreline is accomplished through the strategic placement of plants, stone, sand, or other structural and organic materials in order to stabilize and prevent the loss of vegetated shorelines, beaches, and other habitats.  The creation of a living shoreline is the preferred method for shoreline stabilization over harder, structural methods of shoreline stabilization such as the use of bulkheads.  There are no existing exemptions or permits-by-rule for the creation of living shorelines.  However, there is an existing coastal general permit which allows for the creation of living shorelines.  If the proposed project does not meet the requirements of this coastal general permit, a CAFRA or Waterfront Development Individual permit and/or a Coastal Wetlands permit will be required.

Please refer to  the “Jurisdiction” section of the "Coastal Permitting" section of the website 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 exemptions and permits for a project depends on where your project is proposed.  Additional information regarding the Division’s coastal program can be found on the “Coastal Permitting” section of the website.  If necessary, please contact the Division’s Technical Support Center for further assistance.

This coastal general permit may apply to your project --

  • Coastal General Permit 29 authorizes habitat creation, restoration, enhancement, and living shoreline activities necessary to implement a plan for the restoration, creation, enhancement, or protection of the habitat, water quality functions and values of wetlands, wetland buffers, and open water areas, which is sponsored by a Federal or State agency or other entity listed in the requirements for this general permit.  Please refer to N.J.A.C. 7:7-7.29 for information on the requirements of this general permit.

The Tidelands Resource Council (TRC) is currently working on creating a policy that balances the environmental benefits of living shorelines with the TRC’s obligation to collect equitable compensation for utilization and occupation of state-owned tidelands.

Please check our website routinely for updates as a TRC policy is under development.  Until a policy is adopted, living shorelines will be evaluated on a case by case basis.


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Last Updated: February 9, 2015