Wynn Boston Harbor has been preparing part of their waterfront for a Living Shoreline since April, and in the next few weeks workers will move in to start planting three different varieties of salt marsh grasses in the tidal areas.
Later in the fall, the native coastal plantings will be put in, with all of it resting on a temporary “rock roll” that holds everything in place for about two years until the restoration takes root.
“In the beginning we were not Living Shoreline experts, but during the environmental permitting process, the various groups talked us into it,” said Chris Gordon, president of Wynn Massachusetts Design and Development. “We ended up coming to the conclusion that it was a good idea. Some people may say that the environmental regulation process is a pain, but this is an example of how it isn’t like that. This was a good idea that came out of that process. We talked to the Watershed Association and others and they talked us into it. It was a great idea…We could have done rip-rap, revetments, boulders or other things, but we liked this idea best when we looked at it.”
Gordon added that it fits in with Wynn’s promise to bring the waterfront back to the people – and in the state it was in before industry blocked Everett from its waterfront.
Mayor Carlo DeMaria was happy to hear that the Living Shoreline project was about to begin. He said one of the main reasons he pushed so hard for the casino was to make sure things like this took place in Everett.
“For over 100 years industrial uses along our riverbanks have walled off the Everett shoreline from our residents,” he said. “Restoring the riverbanks to their natural state has been a major priority of mine. The Wynn team, through their creative efforts, is opening up our waterfront for the first time in a generation. Not only will people have access to the waterfront for the first time, but they are also restoring our shoreline to its natural state. This work includes the restoration of a natural beach and native vegetation along the harbor walk way. By doing so, we improve water quality, provide fisheries habitat, increase biodiversity, and promote recreation. In addition, living shorelines are more resilient against storms and reduces coastal flooding.”
Gordon said the Living Shoreline isn’t any more expensive than putting a sharp edge like the bulkheads. In fact, about 50 percent of the shoreline will be a bulkhead formation to accommodate boats. However, the remaining parts will be a softer, natural shore.
Right now, workers are preparing the foundations for the Living Shoreline.
Already, they have completed the placing of the “rock roll,” which is simply large rocks rolled into a coconut fiber sheathing that will disintegrate after a few years. That is simply in place to keep everything from washing away when it’s taking root.
A silt and fine sand surface has been placed in the tidal zone to accommodate the salt marsh grasses. Those grasses have been cultured in a nursery and are growing in waters taken from the Mystic River so they are acclimated to the conditions before being planted. They are expected to be planted by hand during low tide throughout the rest of the summer.
The upper plantings outside of the tidal zone will be placed in a loam mixture and will be placed in the fall. It is hoped that by October, the Living Shoreline will be in place.