Provided by Prince William County
There’s 800 feet along the Potomac River at Leesylvania State Park where erosion threatens a portion of the river’s shoreline and the stone path. Tree roots are exposed along the shoreline; trees have fallen into the river; and several large trees have been removed recently due to safety concerns. The solution to the problem is a living shoreline approach adopted by the park and its partners.
A living shoreline uses a combination of planting native marsh plants to control sediments and a series of offshore rock structures to serve as a breakwater. Both elements of the technique will control erosion at the popular stretch of beach along the river.
The Prince William County Department of Public Works is helping to manage the project, in cooperation with the Virginia Department of Conservation and Resources, Leesylvania State Park, Virginia State Parks, George Mason University, the Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences, the Maryland Department of the Environment, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Chesapeake Bay Trust and several other organizations.
Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe recently visited the park to look at the progress of the state-funded project. McAuliffe said that the project is a part a number of investments the state is making to state parks, land resources conservation and water quality improvement.
The living shoreline will be an asset to Leesylvania and the Potomac Heritage Trail. The project will protect the Chesapeake Bay and natural habitat along the Potomac River. “We have got to protect our water,” McAuliffe said during his visit to the park. “We have got to protect our natural resources; and I just wanted to be here to thank everyone who has been involved in making this thing successful.”
Prince William Supervisor Frank Principi said the project will help the park, as more than 500,000 people visit the park annually and attendance continues to increase. “This is where it really comes down to quality of life. This is a real gem here in Eastern Prince William. Everybody knows about it. It is not a secret. So, working with our state and federal partners, we are doing even more to improve our environment and encourage more people to come and visit this great park.”
Scott Hardaway, of the Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences, said the project will grow into something that will not only protect the shoreline, but will serve as an educational tool, as well. “This project, in my mind, will provide long-term shore protection for the park. It will be an evolving living shoreline classroom as the wetlands mature through time, as fish and other aquatic species use this valuable habitat that we’ve created.”