EXAMPLES OF EXISTING BUFFER RESTORATION PROJECTS
The good news is: yours won’t be the first buffer restoration project in the region. There are several examples of successful buffer restoration in Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts. The projects below represent a range of riparian and coastal buffer projects that have been completed in recent years. Most are in publicly-accessible locations, so feel free to check them out in person.
The Edgewood Waterfront Preservation Association (EWPA) in partnership with Save The Bay and the City of Cranston has been actively restoring 700 linear feet of coastal buffer between Stillhouse Cove salt marsh and the City park at the top of the bank. The first phase of the restoration included managing the invasive species including the Japanese knotweed that dominated the steep, manmade bank of fill and debris.
In 2004 after the first phase of a salt marsh restoration project, NRCS provided technical assistance on seeding the bank with native grasses. Multiple attempts to seed the bank did not succeed, most likely due to the urban fill, the steepness of the slope and shading. Due to the failed seeding attempts, EWPA, Save The Bay and the Edgewood Garden Club started to plant mature, native grasses in the spring of 2012. Planting mature plants versus seeding proved successful.
After Superstorm Sandy in the fall of 2012, sections of the bank eroded significantly. The project partners including EWPA, Save The Bay and the City of Cranston received technical assistance from CRMC’s Coastal Geologist and NRCS on a bank regrading plan. The plan included regrading the manmade bank to create a more gradual slope by moving the top of bank inland and slightly reducing the size of the park. The City of Cranston agreed that this was the preferred and most sustainable approach to stabilizng the bank. The bank was regraded in the fall of 2013 by a local contractor and three coconut fiber coir envelopes were installed by a contractor that specializes in bank stabilization. The three coir envelopes were installed from the base of the bank to the top of the bank and then covered with soil and coir matting. The regraded bank created a more suitable slope for planting native grasses. A total of 5,000 native grasses were planted along 600 linear feet of shoreline. Coir logs were installed at the base of the steepest bank to address erosion at the base of the slope at the coir envelopes have begun to degrade. The project was funded by the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
EWPA has continued to maintain the warm season grasses annually through additional plantings and invasive plant management. They have planted additional native shrubs at the top of bank to increase plant diversity.
Before (Year:2000) After (Year:2022)
The native coastal planting at Save The Bay’s Bay Center was established in phases between 2005 and 2007 as part of the Brownfields redevelopment of a former landfill. The coastal buffer varied in width from 45 to 55 feet along the 1,100 feet shoreline. Over 2,000 native shrubs and trees were planted including a variety of native shrubs, trees and grasses including bayberry, highbush blueberry, beach plum, Virginia rose, sweet fern, winged sumac, red and black chokeberry, red cedar, pitch pine and shadbush. The plants were planted in clean soil that was placed on top of the landfill as a permeable “cap” to protect the public from contact with the landfill material. Community volunteers also planted over 2,000 native shrubs and trees and the shrubs were mulched with cedar mulch. Part of the buffer zone was seeded with native, warm season grasses. In the area around the shrubs, the non-native, invasive perennial, mugwort, became established and outcompeted some of the newly placed shrubs due to its height and density. The area that was seeded without mulch did not have mugwort. As the mulch breaks down, it releases excess nutrients which create conditions that can allow invasive species to become established.
The coastal buffer planting was funded by the Natural Resources Conservation Service as part of a larger project to restore coastal habitats at this Brownfields site, including creating a salt marsh. Save The Bay has a coastal buffer management plan for managing the invasive species that have become established in the buffer, including bittersweet.
Before (Year: 2005) After (Year: 2022)
In 2016, the Providence Parks Department and Save The Bay with volunteer support from Brown University, planted native plants in a former lawn area along Willow Lake in Roger Williams Park. The 190 foot long and 6 foot wide area was planted with a combination of red-osier dogwood, inkberry and switch grass both to create a buffer between the footpath and the pond and to discourage feeding of geese.
In 2020, Save The Bay developed a planting plan in coordination with the Providence Parks Department, the Providence Stormwater Innovation Center and RI Audubon Society for the stream that flows out of the Roger Williams Park Ponds. On current maps today, the stream is named Bellafont Brook for the former mill that was located in this area. Historically, prior to the creation of the dam that forms the Roger William Park Pond, the stream was called Mashapaug Brook, originating in Mashapaug Pond. In the spring of 2020, partners planted wetland species including buttonbush and swamp rose in the lawn along 564 feet of the stream ranging in width from 10 to 15 feet.
In 2021, the partners planted the steep banks just downstream of the Roger Williams Park Pond’s spillway. The planting area was approximately 124 feet and 20 feet wide. The native shrubs including meadowsweet, sweet pepperbush, winterberry and buttonbush were planted from top of bank to the edge of the stream in an area that had been maintained as grass.
The Town of Bristol and Save The Bay collaborated on a coastal buffer restoration project at the site of a former gas station along Silver Creek. The property was purchased by the Town and the gas station removed. In the spring of 2002, the volunteers planted native shrubs—including inkberry, bayberry and red cedar—in the former lawn area along 135 feet of Silver Creek. The plantings have matured and other woody vegetation has become established, including locust trees. No active management of invasive plants has occurred at this site.
The project was funded by the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program.
In 2021 and 2022, the Common Fence Point Improvement Association and Save The Bay collaborated on three coastal planting projects along 240 linear feet of Mount Hope Bay’s shoreline. The buffer planting areas included a lawn area at the top of an eroding bluff and a lawn at lower elevation that is subject to flooding both from stormwater runoff and coastal storms. The bluff planting included a combination of switch grass, seaside goldenrod, beach plum and Virginia rose. The switch grass and golden rod was planted together to allow for future maintenance of annual mowing to prevent woody invasive plants from colonizing the area. In the shrub planting area, community volunteers will hand pull invasives or use a weed wrench to remove larger, more established invasive shrubs or vines. The planting area was quite narrow, about 6 feet in width, due to the proximity of road along the shoreline. A total of 240 feet of shoreline was planted.
At the low elevation planting area, neighborhood volunteers planted a combination of warm season grasses and salt tolerant species like seaside goldenrod, high tide bush and beach grass. The project was funded through the Coastal Resources Management Council’s Coastal and Estuarine Habitat Restoration Trust Fund.
The City of New Bedford Parks Recreation & Beaches and Groundwork Southcoast are teaming up to restore an 800 linear foot section of shoreline on the Acushnet River in New Bedford, MA, restoring native habitat and enhancing the community’s access to and view of the waterfront. This work builds off years of mitigation and restoration work completed by EPA elsewhere in the park and the region, as part of the New Bedford Harbor Cleanup superfund project.
The current buffer restoration completes the last portion of the park’s northern shoreline. The project team hired goats to remove approximately 5,000 square feet of invasive vegetation from the existing buffer over a period of 3 days in 2021. The area was subsequently seeded with a native plant mix.
Groundworks Southcoast’s local youth Green Team installed erosion controls to protect the bank while the plants grow back, and they will be actively monitoring the area as they do, removing any invasive species. The City maintains the entire shoreline, including previously restored areas, by mowing once every 1-2 years outside the growing season, and has adopted a native plant policy on all properties.
During Restoration After Restoration
(the goats that were brought in to remove vegetation)