Living Shorelines

Leesylvania State Park Living Shorelines Project

Project Update: We published a report in August 2020 as a followup to our work at the Park. You can download the report here.

At Leesylvania State Park in Prince William County, VA, annually over 500,000 people visit one of the few public beaches in the Northern Virginia region. To maintain the integrity of the shoreline in this popular section of the Potomac River, the Leesylvania Living Shorelines project provides shoreline stabilization and protection, while enhancing and restoring riparian, inter-tidal and near-shore habitat.

The design utilizes living shoreline practices, such as sills, marsh restoration, and beach enhancement to balance habitat restoration with shoreline protection and recreational access to the Potomac River.

Living shorelines provide an effective and natural looking alternative to protecting shorelines in low wave energy areas, such as the Potomac River and it's tidal tributaries.

Benefits include:
  • 800 linear feet of stabilized shoreline
  • 22,000 square feet of enhanced riparian buffer habitat
  • 25,000 square feet of restored inter-tidal masrsh and beach habitat

The first video is from 2017 and the second video was filmed in June 2021.


About Living Shorelines

The Chesapeake Bay Trust defines "Living Shorelines" as shoreline stabilization techniques that use natural habitat elements to protect shorelines from erosion while also providing critical habitat for Chesapeake Bay wildlife.  The benefits of living shorelines include:

  • stabilization of the shoreline
  • protection of surrounding riparian and inter-tidal environment
  • improvement of water quality via filtration of upland run-off
  • creation of habitat for aquatic and terrestrial species

The Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences is one of the leaders in designing and implementing living shorelines on public and private lands throughout the mid-Atlantic region.  If you are considering a living shoreline on your property, visit the VIMS Shoreline Studies Program to download design guidance and the VIMS Center for Coastal Resources Management has a wealth of information on building criteria, permit requirements, planting considerations, demonstration sites, and other useful information.

Grant for Leesylvania State Park Shoreline Restoration

Northern Virginia Regional Commission Receives Grant for
Leesylvania State Park Shoreline Restoration

Northern Virginia Regional Commission (NVRC) was pleased to accept a National Fish and Wildlife Foundation grant on behalf of the NVRC for a shoreline restoration project at Leesylvania State Park.

The project restores approximately 800 feet of eroding Potomac River shoreline at the Park. The design of the project includes the restoration of marsh and beach nourishment. The project is a collaborative effort between NVRC, the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Leesylvania State Park, Prince William County, Dominion Power and the Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences. The design was completed and permitted in 2013 and with the funding from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation the construction was completed in the Summer of 2016.

Leesylvania State Park receives nearly 500,000 visitors per year. The site of the project is located near the Park’s Visitor’s Center and will be the location of future trainings and seminars for waterfront property owners and contractors on the benefits of living shorelines.

The Leesylvania Living Shorelines Project is a collaborative effort between the Northern Virginia Regional Commission, Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation Division of State Parks, Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences, and Prince William County.

Funding Sponsors
This project is funded, in part, through the Chesapeake Bay Trust's Living Shoreline Initiative, in conjuction with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Restoration Center and Maryland Department of the Environment.