At a Glance

Stakeholder-driven planning guides the implementation of a trail system that enhances local ecology while connecting a campus community to the cultural and natural heritage of the land.

Project Description

Shoreline erosion is taking thousands of acres of land a year and reducing the area of salt marsh all along the east coast. In the Town of Nags Head, the shoreline has receded up to 275 feet over recent decades, with acres of marsh converting to open water. Their Estuarine Shoreline Management Plan is a comprehensive effort to manage 17 miles of shoreline in the town while balancing land use, ecosystem health, public health, and recreational opportunities. This planning effort characterizes the shoreline and its historical changes; identifies best management practices, uses, and policy; explores the legal and regulatory context of shoreline management and nature-based solutions; and considers the impacts of future hazards such as sea level rise and storm surge.

With planning and engineering support from our colleagues at Moffatt & Nichol, Biohabitats is developing shoreline management typologies along the entire length of the Town of Nags Head shoreline. The current conditions range from natural marsh to bulkheads, and the planning team is developing options to attenuate wave energy and improve habitat all along the estuary. This process starts with an engineering consideration of historic and current erosion rate, wave energy modeling, and other shoreline design factors. The team worked with the town to prioritize the assets and amenities that are most important, to narrow feasible sites that offer multiple benefits and a clear pathway toward implementation. The final plan will include concept-level site planning and cost estimates for three selected locations.



Southeast Atlantic

Physiographic Province

Coastal Plain


Albemarle Sound-Croatan Sound

Expertise Areas

Climate Change, Coastal, Ecological Restoration


Town of Nags HEad


Nags Head, North Carolina, United States

Project Team
  • Moffat & Nichol