Sunday, April 3, 2011

OCC Presents at Living Shorelines

Last week Ed Gorleski ( and Ryan Artman ( of OCC attended the American Littoral Society's Living Shorelines Workshop at Monmouth University. The title of the conference was "Advancing Living Shorelines in New Jersey" and aimed to lay the foundation for developing a Living Shorelines program in New Jersey by demonstrating successful examples of these types of projects. Throughout the course of the day, presenters gave talks that ranged from the basics of Living Shorelines to specific project examples from North Carolina, Maryland and New Jersey. The focus of the discussions revolved around sharing challenges and lessons for implementing future Living Shoreline projects, evaluating and discussing regulatory complications to such projects, and producing recommendations for regulatory improvements that promote Living Shorelines. The day was ended with a state and federal agency representatives (NJDEP, USACE, NOAA, USFWS & NMFS) providing their perspectives on implementing a Living Shoreline program in NJ. 

What are Living Shorelines?

According to the Center for Coastal Resources Management, Living Shorelines, "address erosion in lower energy situations by providing long-term protection, restoration or enhancement of vegetated shoreline habitats through strategic placement of plants, stone, sand fill and other structural or organic materials. Living Shoreline Treatments do not include structures that sever the natural processes & connections between uplands and aquatic areas." The benefits of Living Shorelines include:

  • Reducing bank erosion and property loss to you or your neighbor
  • Providing an attractive natural appearance
  • Creating recreational use areas
  • Improving marine habitat & spawning areas
  • Allowing affordable construction costs
  • Improving water quality and clarity

OCC was invited to present at the conference and gave a talk entitled Southwest Mordecai Island Ecosystem Restoration Project - SWMER Phase I & II. The talk focused on the design process (several years worth) that OCC went through to implement the Mordecai Island project, challenges that we faced during the process and lessons learned in taking a Living Shoreline project from concept to construction. 

By the conclusion of the workshop, many good ideas were discussed to develop a strategy for implementing Living Shorelines in NJ. The next steps will be critical and include future meetings and workshops, developing a framework and standard for a successful project, and working with regulatory agencies to promote the concept of Living Shorelines.


For more information, please contact Ed at

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Erosion Control for Valuable Marsh Habitat

In the fall of 2010, OCC completed a shoreline protection project to reduce erosion and restore  approximately 570 linear feet of rapidly eroding marsh shoreline on Mordecai Island, a 45 acre uninhabited sedge island, west of Beach Haven (Long Beach Island), New Jersey. This project was the second phase of the South West Mordecai Ecosystem Restoration (SWMER) project.  Mordecai and its surrounding waters are within the Jacques Cousteau National Estuarine Research Reserve (JCNERR) and are also listed as Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) for spawning and all life stages of Winter Flounder. It is similarly listed for its essential role in juvenile and adult stages of Atlantic Sea Herring, bluefish, Summer Flounder, Scup and Black Sea Bass.

Location map for SWMER Phase II

Mordecai is also part of the “Barnegat Bay Complex” (Complex #6) and considered one of the “Significant Habitats and Habitat Complexes of the New York Bight” as designated by the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). It is very close to the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge and provides similar habitat to many fish, bird and plant species.  Mordecai serves as a strategically important nesting island for many New Jersey Threatened and Endangered Species and contains a large colony of nesting colonial waterbirds. Of particular significance is the approximately 50 pair of State Endangered Black Skimmers. Other State Endangered bird species observed on or near Mordecai include the American Bittern, the Least Tern and the Northern Harrier. State Threatened species include the Black-Crowned Night Heron and the Yellow-Crowned Night Heron.
Black Skimmers utilizing the valuable habitat on Mordecai Island.

SWMER Phase I was completed in the summer of 2006 and included the installation of biodegradable coir and jute biologs installed along the shoreline of Mordecai Island along with planting Spartina alternaflora in the biologs as well as on the landward, protected side of the biologs. Biologs were installed along the edge of the shoreline and secured with oak stakes along various lengths of shoreline. While the biologs installed on the eastern, protected shoreline remained intact, the biologs on the western, exposed shoreline, more susceptible to wind and wave erosion, did not last as long.

SWMER Phase II consisted of three components, which included 570 linear feet of 22-foot circumference, sand filled geotextile tubes along the south west portion of the island where erosion rates are the highest.  When filled, the tubes resulted in approximately 3.5 foot high sill ranging from 10 to 50 feet from the shoreline, and approximately 6 inches below the mean high water line.  The preliminary placement of the tubes was determined by performing a GIS analysis of the 1986 island shoreline and final placement approval was a joint effort between OCC, the client, Mordecai Land Trust, U.S Fish and Wildlife Service, the N.J. Department of Environmental Protection and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. In addition to the geotextile tubes, 20-inch diameter premium quality biologs were installed behind the geotextile tubes.  The purpose of these additional biologs was to determine whether or not they would survive longer and function to protect shoreline, in the lee of the geotextile tubes.  The third and final component of the project were experimental coir biologs placed perpendicular to the shoreline along the southern section of shoreline to deflect currents between the island and the adjacent bulkhead.  The theory behind this element is that by reducing the currents along this section of the shoreline, erosion would also be reduced.

Aerial view of island including location of geotextile sill and current deflectors.

Cross section of geotextile tube sill.

The purpose of the tubes is to reduce wave action from boat wake and wind waves that attack this section of the island.  Below are photographs of the project, after the geotextile tubes were installed that show the tubes blocking wave energy before making contact with the shoreline. This project will continue to be monitored to not only determine if the tubes are reducing erosion, but if they are also encouraging any sediment accretion.  

Intial placement of the geotextile tubes.

Final layout of geotextile tube sill prior to commencement of sand filling.

Filled geotextile tube sill during the as-built survey.

Installation of 20-inch diameter, premium quality biologs on the lee side of the geotextile tube sill.

Installation of the coir biolog current deflectors.

Contractor photograph of geotextile tube sill in action. Notice the calm waters on the lee side of the tubes.

For more information please contact Ed Gorleski at

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Welcome to OCC - Ryan Artman

My name is Ryan Artman ( and I currently reside in Medford, NJ.  As a new employee, I have been consistently searching for ways to extend my reach into and contribute to the OCC community.  So, when Ed Gorleski approached me with the idea of writing a blog post, I jumped at the opportunity. 

After graduating from The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey with a Bachelors of Science in Marine Biology I went to work for the NJ DEP; Bureau of Marine Fisheries.  This job appealed to my passion for working on and around the ocean.  I have always enjoyed the marine atmosphere and everything involved in it, so working for the Bureau of Marine Fisheries was a nice fit for me.

It wasn't long before I decided to pursue another passion of mine.  I had been involved in construction for many years, prior to and during my career with the NJDEP.  I started out framing homes in Ocean City, New Jersey, and had always felt comfortable and confident on the job site.  In an attempt to begin a career in construction, I started working as a project manager for Reilly Construction, Inc.  out of Trenton, NJ.

Finally, the opportunity presented itself to combine my two passions in one job, Ocean and Coastal Consultants.  Since arriving at OCC, the entire staff has been unbelievably supportive and welcoming.  I have enjoyed coming to work everyday, not only because of the people here, but also because of the challenges and diversity of the work load.  During the past two months, I have been involved with numerous projects, each one being entirely unique and affording me the possibility to grow as an employee and an individual.

My experience with GIS has proved to be invaluable, as it has turned out to be an effective and efficient way for me to assist with as many projects as possible.  I have always been passionate about the ocean and coastal living as well as construction, so for me, to be able to combine my passions with a career has been immensely rewarding. 

I look forward to many years of contributing to a company that has provided me the opportunity to enjoy what I do.