Living Shoreline on Ossabaw Island

Each issue of Shoreline will profile coastal conservation projects of major significance.  In most cases, projects will feature highly collaborative partnerships and, in all cases, success will depend on co-investment by private donors.  These profiles are meant to educate coastal donors about the leading edge of conservation throughout Georgia’s coastal region and signal opportunities for high impact co-investment.  A “Living Shoreline” planned for Ossabaw Island is an ideal project to open this series:  it represents collaborative, cutting edge conservation and its impact on Ossabaw Island and the Living Shoreline movement in Georgia will be significant.

Like all of Georgia’s 14 barrier islands, Ossabaw Island has sites that have been occupied by humans for over 4,000 years.  One site in particular contains artifacts that illuminate history on the coast of Georgia, spanning thousands of years and including remnants of a prehistoric village, an antebellum plantation, and a 1930s tenant farmer home. It sits in a vulnerable place on a bluff edge where the tidal flow along a marsh creek is steadily wearing away the bank.

The Nature Conservancy and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources have decided to take steps to protect this historically important site by initiating their fifth and largest Living Shoreline project to stabilize 1,320 feet of the erosional bank. Living Shorelines represent a new approach to fighting coastal erosion.  The installation on Ossabaw Island will restore functional estuarine habitat and protect natural shoreline ecosystems while preserving unique cultural and archeological resources.  It will also help refine the technical understanding of how to use Living Shorelines successfully in Georgia.

The Living Shoreline installation on Ossabaw Island will require a great deal of effort and expertise from The Nature Conservancy and GDNR, expertise developed over nearly ten years of work on the use of Living Shorelines in Georgia, as well as financial support from federal, state and private sources.  Would you like more information about this important project?  Please contact Katrina Toth-Green with the Nature Conservancy in Georgia at