St. John's College team puts `biologs' to test on shoreline

Project to re-create creek's natural state

June 01, 2000|By Amy Oakes | Amy Oakes,SUN STAFF

They don't look like anything more than sunken telephone poles, but these "biologs" might turn out to be a cheaper and more natural way of saving shorelines in Annapolis.

As part of a class project, a team of faculty and students from St. John's College has placed biologs, which are compacted coconut fiber, at the bottom of College Creek near the Hodson Boathouse to help stabilize the shoreline for growing marsh grasses.

The grasses, which are similar to ones found along the creek in its prehistoric days, will help control shoreline erosion.

The project, whose final planting was completed recently, has earned praise from landowners along College Creek and from the Annapolis Preservation Trust for using natural resources to protect the shoreline. More traditional methods use rock or wall barriers.

The nonprofit group, which promotes the preservation and history of Annapolis, awarded the college its annual design award two weeks ago.

"This [the planting] is an opportunity to bring a creek like this back to its natural state," said Steve Linhard, one of the project's coordinators.

The Annapolis Preservation Trust also gave an award to the Westgate Circle Design Committee for its work at the new traffic circle at West Street, Taylor Avenue and Spa Road, said Joan Abel, a member of the organization. The awards recognize publicly funded preservation projects in the city.

The St. John's students and faculty began working on the site -- about 170 linear feet of shoreline -- in July. Before grading the bank they cleaned away trash that had washed ashore.

The biologs, an increasingly popular way of preserving shoreline naturally, will decompose in seven to 10 years. They were placed along the shoreline, and a sand base was put down for planting.

Students conducting the environmental project researched the history of the shoreline to find the types of plants and grasses that once grew there, Linhard said. Then, over three weeks, the students planted more than a dozen different grasses and shrubs.

They did another planting in October and finished in mid-May, Linhard said.

Nicholas Maistrellis, who helped research the history of the creek, said people shouldn't expect immediate results.

"It will be a couple of years before the marsh here looks like anything, but already we are seeing greater diversity [of plants] and greater numbers of animals," he said.

The $30,000 project was funded by grants from the state's Department of Natural Resources, Chesapeake Bay Foundation and the Chesapeake Bay Trust.

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