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Division of Land Use Regulation
State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection

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Living Shoreline Creation Activities

  • Overview
  • Freshwater Wetlands
  • Flood Hazard
  • Coastal
  • Tidelands

A living shoreline is a shoreline management practice that addresses the loss of vegetated shorelines, beaches, and habitat in the littoral zone by providing for the protection, restoration or enhancement of these habitats. This is accomplished through the strategic placement of plants, stone, sand, or other structural and organic materials. The three types of living shorelines include natural, hybrid, and structural. Natural living shorelines incorporate natural vegetation, submerged aquatic vegetation, fill, and biodegradable organic materials. Hybrid living shorelines incorporate natural vegetation, submerged aquatic vegetation, fill, biodegradable organic materials, and low-profile rock structures such as segmented sills, stone containment, and living breakwaters seeded with native shellfish. Structural living shorelines include, but are not limited to, revetments, breakwaters, and groins. 

Living shoreline projects may result in impacts to “special areas” that are regulated by the Department.  Therefore, it is important to closely examine a proposed project relative to the sensitive areas on site.  Special areas can be rudimentarily determined using the Department’s online mapping service, NJ-GeoWeb.  Lastly, living shoreline projects may require multiple approvals from the Division, depending on the special areas impacted. 

The above tabs provide additional information on permit requirements relating to living shoreline projects.  For impacts to streams, rivers, lakes, ponds, flood plains, flood ways, riparian zones, please see the "Flood Hazard" tab. For impacts to special coastal areas, please see the "Coastal" tab. For impacts to Freshwater Wetlands, see the "Freshwater Wetlands" tab.  Information on Tidelands can be found by selecting the "Tidelands" tab.

It is unlikely that living shoreline creation activities would impact freshwater wetlands. Should an area of coastal wetlands be impacted by this activity, and should that coastal wetland not appear on the promulgated coastal wetlands mapping, then the Department may take jurisdiction over that wetland under the Freshwater Wetlands Protection Act and Freshwater Wetlands Protection Act Rules. Please see the Freshwater Wetlands Section of this website for more information.

Living shoreline projects proposed in fluvial (non-tidal) flood hazard areas are regulated under the Flood Hazard Area Control Act Rules (N.J.A.C. 7:13) and will require a permit. These projects will be reviewed under the bank stabilization/channel restoration section of the rules.  For more information, please refer to “Bank Stabilization” webpage. 

Living shoreline projects in tidal flood hazard areas that are regulated pursuant to the Coastal Zone Management Rules at N.J.A.C. 7:7 do not require a flood hazard area permit.  In these instances, the applicant need only submit a report and plans demonstrating compliance with the Flood Hazard Area Control Act Rules as part of the coastal permit application

Living shorelines serve as a way of protecting vegetated shorelines, beaches, and habitat in intertidal areas from the effects of erosion. Living shorelines are the preferred method for shoreline stabilization over structural methods such as bulkheads.  There are no existing exemptions, Permits-by-rule, or General Permits-by-Certification for living shoreline projects.  However, the below described General Permit may be available provided the requirements are met.  If the proposed project does not meet the requirements of the General Permit, a CAFRA, Coastal Wetlands, and/or Waterfront Development Individual Permit may be required.
The “Jurisdiction” tab of the "Coastal Areas" webpage can help you determine which areas of your site may be regulated.  The availability of certain permits depends on the project’s location.

Potentially applicable General Permit (GP):

GP 24 - authorizes habitat creation, restoration, enhancement and living shoreline activities

The Tidelands Resource Council (TRC) is currently working on creating a policy that balances the environmental benefits of living shorelines with the TRC’s obligation to collect equitable compensation for utilization and occupation of state-owned tidelands.

Please check our website routinely for updates as a TRC policy is under development.  Until a policy is adopted, living shorelines will be evaluated on a case by case basis.


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Last Updated: August 16, 2017