On the lower Nanticoke River shore, the effects of Hurricane Isabel in 1993 were dramatic at Roaring Point where wave action is always great and erosion has historically been severe. After Isabel, the bank was undercut below the park fence, and the configuration of this part of the river shore made it impossible for the steep bank to regenerate in the summer, as the beach portion does. The Friends of the Nanticoke River worked with the MD Dept. of Natural Resources Living Shorelines program and the Wicomico County Recreation, Parks and Tourism Dept., with funding from the Chesapeake Bay Trust, to restore this stretch of the beach in 2004. The bank was re-graded and natural stabilizing devices (biologs) were installed. As of 2009, the project had maintained the bank in a relatively good position, but winter storms of 2010 set it back seriously (though not as far as Isabel). Another effort may be needed very soon. Meanwhile, we are working to try to educate the users of the park to avoid damaging the bank by trampling where it is steepest.
In the upper portion of the river, where wind-driven wave action is not a problem, human-caused erosion is an increasing problem due to the influx of large boats from the Blades Marina and other boat and barge traffic. Many boats violate the 6-knot speed limits in that region, and loss of shoreline and large trees is the result. In response, property owners are turning to rip-rap and stone revetment for stabilization.
One such case was a project near the Woodland Ferry, where trees extend down to the water’s edge. We voiced our concerns to the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control about this proposal, and the property owners agreed to limit the stone to hand-placing around the trees instead of clearing the shoreline, and to eliminate a proposal to construct two 20-foot groins.
We remain strongly concerned about the impact of shoreline hardening on the fragile interface between the land and water in this portion of the river. Numerous species use the river shoreline habitat, shallow-water nearshore areas, and the underwater regions of this portion of the Nanticoke River. All are threatened by this type of habitat modification. In addition, this alteration of wave and water flow patterns can increase erosion in adjacent portions.
It is the position of the Friends that a better approach to this erosion problem, which is entirely caused by human activity, would be to strictly enforce the speed limits in that section of the river.