Colley Bay Living Shoreline and Wetland Restoration Project


Colley Bay consists primarily of shallow water and intertidal habitats that are important as nursery grounds for fish, benthic biodiversity, and production. Even with its former hodgepodge of concrete, asphalt, and brick debris along the project shoreline, it was still experiencing erosion. The longest fetches, which range from 0.6 to 0.7 miles, are to the NE and NNE making the shoreline vulnerable to hurricane and nor’easter generated winds and waves. Phase 1 has multiple demonstration design elements to address ongoing shoreline erosion (coir log and rock sill), provides immediate public shoreline access (sandy beaches), and is designed to accommodate future access enhancements (pier and multi-use shoreline pathway) that we anticipate will follow wetland restoration. The Phase I project restored approximately 750 linear feet of shoreline along the northern shoreline of Colley Bay. Project implementation was an extension of work aimed at restoring ecosystem services throughout the entire Colley Bay ecosystem. Wetlands on Norfolk’s public property have been restored through the cessation of mowing activity. Norfolk and Old Dominion University (ODU) have completed Phragmites control projects and substituted with environmentally beneficial native wetlands plants. The Lafayette Wetlands Partnership, ODU’s Biology Student Graduate Organization, Larchmont Elementary School students and staff, Highland Park Civic League, and Norfolk Wetlands Board staff have completed and are maintaining two community-based LS projects on adjoining shorelines. Norfolk’s Central Hampton Boulevard Plan calls for the development of a multi-use path along the project area to encourage recreation and non-motorized transit between two major thoroughfares – Hampton Boulevard and Colley Avenue. In the nation, Hampton Roads communities are second only to New Orleans for the threat of sea level rise and studies predict significant loss of wetlands with shoreline hardening responses.

As the scientific literature suggests, building Living Shorelines can provide an effective alternative to shoreline hardening and provide for landward wetland migration and sustainability in the face of sea level rise. Design elevations for the project were elevated so that the plants would be more sustainable in the face of sea level rise and slopes were designed to be shallow to facilitate unimpeded landward migration. Enhancing wetlands and the natural environment is a core value in the City’s mission and the City understands the role of a healthy environment in sustaining a high quality of life. The Colley Bay Living shoreline and Wetland Restoration - Phase I project is part of a larger comprehensive plan to restore Colley Bay and helps the City keep its commitment to an ever improving environment and to the health and welfare of its citizenry.


  • Kevin R. Du Bois, PWS, PWD, CFM