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2008 News Releases

Longwood’s Hull Springs Farm shoreline project receives award from state organization

November 25, 2008

Bobbie Burton, Dan Brown, Katie Register and Dr. Alix Fink A living shoreline project at Longwood’s Hull Springs Farm won an award. From left are Bobbie Burton, executive director of Hull Springs Farm; Dan Brown, president of Earth Resources, the contractor for the project; Katie Register, Hull Springs Farm’s program director; and Dr. Alix Fink, a Longwood conservation biologist and member of the Hull Springs Farm Board, with the project in the background.

The Living Shorelines project at Longwood University’s Hull Springs Farm in Westmoreland County recently won an award from the Virginia chapter of the Soil and Water Conservation Society.

The Ecological Excellence Award for Construction, given annually for design or construction of ecological restoration projects, went to Earth Resources Inc. of Lancaster County, the contractor that installed the Living Shorelines project at Hull Springs Farm last summer. Earth Resources Inc., a 25-year-old marine construction business, was nominated for the award by Hull Springs Farm. Pinelands Nursery of New Jersey sponsors the award, which includes a $500 cash prize and a plaque.

Hull Springs Farm is a leader in experimental living shoreline technologies to stabilize shoreline and create wildlife habitat. The living shoreline project is a demonstration site for the public, contractors, wetland board members, and the ecological restoration community.

Earth Resources completed the project in July 2008 with the installation of a sill – a low wall of rocks to absorb the energy of waves – about 400 feet long and 26 feet from the eroding bank, to reduce wave action. Also, a tidal fringe marsh was created by placing 750 cubic yards of sand and stone between the sill and toe of the bank. Volunteers planted 4,800 plugs of marsh grasses (Spartina alterniflora and S. patens). Almost 10,000 square feet of new tidal wetland will be created. The project was designed as a research tool as well as bank protection and habitat enhancement. It incorporates two experimental technologies, a window and a weir, which are different types of breaks in the sill to permit the movement of animals during the changing tides.

Bobbie Burton, executive director of Hull Springs Farm, praised the work by Earth Resources. "The approved project plan was followed meticulously and with full appreciation for the plan’s environmental aspects," she said. "Particular attention was paid to minimizing the damage to existing property features and to restoring any damaged areas at the project’s completion. Each stone was properly laid, not simply dumped, in place. The elevations are exactly right, as has been proven in the rapid growth of the marsh grasses over the past three months."

To protect an exceptionally vulnerable point and to become a demonstration site for living shoreline techniques, Hull Springs Farm launched its "Living Shorelines: Shoreline Erosion Control and Habitat Enhancement Project." Longwood University secured grants from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration through the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to assess how living shoreline techniques could be used on-site to control erosion, while also preserving or restoring shoreline habitat that supports shorebirds, juvenile fish, and other wildlife species.

The project was featured in a 2007 publication by the National Research Council of the National Academies titled Mitigating Shore Erosion Along Sheltered Coasts. A case study of the project was presented at the 2006 Virginia/Maryland Living Shorelines Summit.

"Hull Springs Farm is proud to consider Earth Resources a partner on this demonstration site and a model of environmentally-friendly land-use and shoreline practices," said Katie Register, the Farm’s program director. "They did an excellent job on our project.

Hull Springs Farm, which consists of 643 acres in the Mt. Holly section of Westmoreland, was bequeathed to Longwood in 1999 by Mary Farley Ames Lee, a 1938 Longwood alumna.