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Assessing Ecological and Physical Performance

The Rapid Assessment Protocol Manual, for assessing the physical and ecological performance of nature-based engineered shoreline structures has been developed as the fourth phase of the Hudson River Sustainable Shorelines Project. 

Rapid Assessment Protocol Manual and Field Sheets Available HERE

By using a simple protocol with only a few tools needed, land stewards and shoreline designers can have baseline data on the condition of their nature-based shoreline site. 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, restoration practitioners, and other decision makers can have more confidence in suggesting nature-based or living shoreline treatments to estuarine landowners.

Phase 4 was a three-year project funded by the NERRS Science Collaborative, which began in Fall 2015 and ended in 2018. Stuart Findlay of the Cary Institute, Jon Miller and Amy Williams of Stevens Institute and the Consensus Building Institute collaborated with HRNERR to develop this assessment protocol for physical and ecological functions of nature-based shoreline structures along the Hudson River estuary. Local land stewards and engineers have been trained to use these protocols. An advisory group made up of shoreline stakeholders provided suggestions and expertise in this collaborative process.

A project factsheet created by the National Estuarine Research Reserve System’s Office for Coastal Management details the research project, including benefits, approaches, and end results.

The protocol is discussed by Dr. Stuart Findlay in his October 19, 2018 webinar viewable here.

A 2016 presentation is available here: Shoreline Rapid Assessment Protocols Presentation.

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, engineers, and land stewards who are familiar with field techniques and/or those who have undergone field training on the Rapid Assessment Protocol. 

For Microsoft Excel files of the protocol field sheets, please contact


Phase 4 was chosen as the Judge’s Choice Winner for the Climate CoLab’s 2016 MIT Adaptation Contest. 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 – 2020

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.