Skip to Main Content

The Center for Native Grasslands Management

Title: Native Grass Development Efforts for Coastal Shoreline Stabilization in the Northeast/Mid-Atlantic
Year: 2005
Author(s): Miller, C. F., Skaradek, W., van der Grinten, M.
Source Title: Proceedings of the 4th Eastern Native Grass Symposium
Source Type: Proceedings
pages: 218
Original Publication:  
Abstract: The USDA-NRCS Plant Materials Program in the Northeast is working to develop a number of native grass releases for shoreline stabilization. The two broad ecosystems of interest include coastal shorelines (dunes) and tidal brackish/fresh shorelines. A major promotional effort is under way to broaden plant diversity associated with dune stabilization efforts. This is especially important since many Army Corps of Engineers-Beach Nourishment Projects are occurring in the mid-Atlantic states. One problem associated with these projects is the dieout of American beachgrass (Ammophila breveligulata). American beachgrass is best adapted to the frontal sand dunes where sands are constantly shifting. Once the sand is stabilized, the beachgrass loses vigor and yields to other species, if present. Unfortunately, in our highly developed coastlines, little if any natural succession is taking place. The need exists to develop additional plants and planting technology for dune stabilization. Native grass species that may be planted with American beachgrass on the foredunes include bitter panicgrass (Panicum amarum), seaoats (Uniola paniculata; New Jersey and south), and American dunegrass (Leymus mollis; Massachusetts and north). Some grass species that have application for backdune stabilization include saltmeadow cordgrass (Spartina patens) and seacoast bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium var. littoralis). Another ecosystem of concern are tidal shorelines. For instance, in the upper reaches of the Chesapeake Bay, stabilizing eroding shorelines with saltmeadow cordgrass and smooth cordgrass (Spartina alternifolia) has been unsuccessful in tidal freshwater areas. These species are best adapted to tidal brackish environments. A need exists to develop grass species adapted to the intertidal zone in freshwater areas. Species being developed include high-tide switchgrass (Panicum virgatum), giant cordgrass (Spartina cynosuroides), prairie cordgrass (Spartina pectinata), and giant cane (Arundinaria gigantean/tecta). In addition, a native beachgrass (Ammophila breveligulata subspecies champlain) identified growing along Lake Champlain in New York/Vermont is being propagated/tested for freshwater dune ecosystems. The author will present the status of these grass development efforts and the expected outcome and plant products.
Publisher: The University of Kentucky Department of Forestry, Lexington, Kentucky
Editor(s): T. G. Barnes