Final construction and habitat planting are expected to be completed within the next month for the Hepburn Preserve Living Shoreline project in the Borough of Fenwick, an innovative and nature-based solution to protecting a Long Island Sound property formerly owned by the estate of actress Katharine Hepburn as well as a neighboring salt marsh and pond.

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The Hepburn Preserve "living shoreline" project, nearing completion in Old Saybrook, Conn., is GZA GeoEnvironmental Inc.'s third New England living shoreline project. Based on state-of-the-art wind, current, wave, and water-level modeling, the project features resilient vegetation, edging technologies, and sills to protect coastal resources from storms and tidal action with natural and nature-based features. It draws on earlier GZA living shoreline work in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. (Photo: Business Wire)

Only the third living shoreline initiative in Connecticut, and the first supported by the Connecticut Institute for Resilience & Climate Adaptation (CIRCA), the project was designed for site owner Lynde Point Land Trust by GZA GeoEnvironmental Inc., a leading multi-disciplinary firm providing geotechnical, environmental, ecological, water, and construction management services.

The project is designed to protect the 10-acre Lynde Point Marsh and a privately owned salt pond and restore natural habitat through construction of the living shoreline, designed to recover over time naturally from weather and tidal impacts, as well as a road culvert as well as relocation of a tidal channel. The small barrier sand spit at the Hepburn Preserve that projects those resources has been eroding at the rate of up to several feet annually and faced risk of being breached by a major storm. Past measures to stabilize the shoreline had been unsuccessful.

The Hepburn Preserve project is the third living shoreline GZA has designed in New England. Prior projects included an urban living shoreline on the Mystic River, in Everett, Mass., constructed as part of the $2.6 billion Encore Boston Harbor and The Rose Larisa Park along the banks of the Providence River in East Providence, R.I, which was also constructed by SumCo EcoContracting. The Rose Larissa Park is also a pilot demonstration project and was initiated and developed by the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) and The Nature Conservancy (TNC).

Dan Stapleton, P.E., GZA Senior Principal and lead designer for the Fenwick project, said, “The Hepburn Preserve Living Shoreline project provides an opportunity to test the efficacy of living shorelines in Connecticut's challenging Long Island Sound environment. GZA's team performed extensive metocean data analysis and numerical wave modeling along with ecological assessment, civil and coastal engineering and ecological landscape architecture as part of the design process. Working closely with Connecticut environmental regulators and SumCo EcoContracting, the project contractor, GZA also made several adaptive management measures during construction."

The Hepburn Preserve Living Shoreline includes a series of quarry stone rock sills, a new low marsh, a new cobble beach, a restored dune, and a relocated tidal creek. The project was designed and permitted by GZA in close coordination with the Borough of Fenwick, the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. As part of this project, GZA has also been supporting CIRCA and DEEP in development of future statewide Connecticut standards for living shoreline design.

The Hepburn project originated during GZA's completion of a comprehensive coastal resilience plan for the Town of Old Saybrook. GZA worked with the Borough and Lynde Point Land Trust to apply for and receive a project grant from CIRCA and the Long Island Sound Futures Fund. Subsequent project funding was provided by the Land Trust and the Connecticut River Conservancy.

More information about GZA’s living shoreline work may be found at:

About GZA

GZA is a multi-disciplinary, employee-owned firm providing Geotechnical, Environmental, Ecological, Water and Construction Management services. GZA’s more than 660 professionals are based in 30 offices in New England, the Mid-Atlantic, and the Great Lakes States. Our corporate headquarters is at 249 Vanderbilt Avenue, Norwood, MA 02062.

Media contact: Angela Cincotta, GZA Chief of Marketing and Communications at 781-278-5777