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Assessing Ecological and Physical Performance

Monitoring protocol for assessing the physical and ecological performance of nature-based engineered shoreline structures is under development as the fourth phase of the Hudson River Sustainable Shorelines Project. Phase 4 began in Fall of 2015 and is a three year project funded by the NERRS Science Collaborative. Stuart Findlay of the Cary Institute, Jon Miller and Amy Williams of Stevens Institute and the Consensus Building Institute are collaborating with HRNERR to develop assessment protocols for physical and ecological functions of nature-based shoreline structures along the Hudson River estuary. Local land stewards and engineers are being trained to use these protocols.

By using a simple protocol with only a few tools needed, land stewards and engineers can have baseline data on the condition of their nature-based shoreline site so, for example, when a major storm occurs they will be able to measure how the structure fared and compare performance to that of traditional hardened shoreline protection. Engineers, landscape architects, and other decision makers can have more confidence in suggesting nature-based or soft shoreline treatments to estuarine landowners.

The shorelines within the Demonstration Site Network are suitable for application of the ecological and physical assessment protocol.

Although the Rapid Assessment Protocol was written for sites along the Hudson River, the Protocol could be used in other locations, by scientists and engineers who are familiar with field techniques and/or those who have undergone field training on the Rapid Assessment Protocol. For more information, take a look at the project factsheet created by the National Estuarine Research Reserve System’s Office for Coastal Management.

Project Outputs:

    • Collect local data on ecological and physical performance of sustainable (soft) shoreline designs.
    • Establish baseline condition of these shoreline treatments before the next major storm.
    • Field-validate assessment tools for rapidly determining shoreline performance.
    • Develop a manual of guidance on the appropriate use of the assessment tools.
    • Administer field-based workshops on applying the assessment tools to enable local and regional stewards and engineers to track shoreline performance and quantify the benefits and suitability of actual techniques.

Progress of the Project:

The research scientists refined protocols in the 2017 field season. A 2016 presentation is available here: Shoreline Rapid Assessment Protocols Presentation.

The protocol manual and field sheets will be available in Autumn 2018.

Phase 4 was chosen as a Finalist for the MIT Climate CoLab Contest in the category of Adaptation. To learn more, visit the Hudson River Sustainable Shoreline Project’s proposal page on the MIT Climate CoLab website or our post about it.


For more valuable information on the Hudson River Sustainable Shorelines Project, including project reports, peer-reviewed journal articles, site-specific case studies, prior research, and more click here: Publications and Resources.

Tivoli Bays Launch Closure – 2018

The canoe and kayak launch on the Kidd Lane access road at Tivoli Bays WMA is closed for renovations until further notice. At this time, DEC does not have an estimated completion date for the project. Please contact Nathan Ermer at 845-256-3047 for more information about this project. Thank you for your patience and understanding.

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