At a Glance
A project initiated by a local aquarium develops living shoreline strategies that bolster climate resiliency, improve ecological function, and enhance access within a public park.
The 35-acre Veteran’s Memorial Park had experienced severe erosion and storm damage along its southern boundary caused by sea-level-rise, and faces climate-related risks. While the coastal park is a local destination for boating, bicycling, and other recreation, sections of the park paths are degraded and inaccessible. In 2022, The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk (TMA) received a Long Island Sound Futures Fund grant to lead a site analysis to determine the feasibility of a living shoreline restoration for the park’s harbor facing extent.
Biohabitats conducted a desktop analysis to research existing data including drainage infrastructure, habitats and vegetation, topography and bathymetry, hydrodynamic conditions, and historic shoreline extents. The gathered data was compiled to develop a base map that was utilized during field investigations to delineate ecological communities, develop biological benchmarks, ground truth elevation and infrastructure data, and survey benthic communities within the project area. Desktop and field data were used throughout the design process to identify and evaluate options for a living shoreline to enhance native habitat, including intertidal mudflat, salt marsh, coastal scrub-shrub, and upland forest and meadow that diminish flood risk to the park and improve ecological function. The designs considered a range of options including extending salt marsh into the harbor, promoting marsh migration into the park, and encouraging public engagement with boardwalks.
Each design alternative presented to TMA and the City included a detailed description of restoration methods, estimated costs, and any potential risks involved. The strategies developed met TMA’s goals and set the stage for the creation of a resilient living shoreline while improving public access to a diverse, thriving urban tidal marsh habitat.