Monitoring & Lessons Learned

Long-term monitoring of Hudson River Sustainable Shorelines has shown that, with proper implementation, natural and nature-based shoreline practices are successful in providing cost-effective shoreline stabilization in widely varying conditions. Ongoing monitoring at several demonstration sites along the Hudson River informs adaptive management and builds on our understanding of best management practices.

How We Monitor

Rapid Assessment Protocol

The Rapid Assessment Protocol was created to quickly characterize a sustainable shoreline site and rapidly diagnose any issues that may need to be resolved through adaptive management. It may also be used to gain a rudimentary understanding of the ecological and physical performance of sustainable shorelines over time. The protocol can be used for routine annual monitoring, monitoring after a storm event, and/or pre-restoration monitoring. It requires at most one hour per site.

Statewide Monitoring Framework

The Statewide Monitoring Framework, developed in partnership with several partners across New York State, provides a research-grade approach to evaluating ecological and physical performance, potential hazards, and socioeconomic impacts of sustainable shorelines. The Statewide Monitoring Framework incorporates our Research Assessment Protocol. We recommend this framework be implemented on a five-year schedule.

Resilience in Major Storm Events

Resilience in Major Storm Events: A Forensic Analysis of Shoreline Structures on the Hudson River Following Three Historic Storms examined six sites and how they each fared during Tropical Storms Irene and Lee in 2011 and Post-Tropical Storm Sandy in 2012. The sites had either traditional or non-traditional nature-based shoreline stabilization. Researchers conducted a forensic engineering analysis to determine the critical factors that contributed to each shoreline treatment’s performance and developed case studies.

Where We Monitor

Lessons Learned

Long-term monitoring of these sites yielded the following key lessons learned:

Resilient in storms.

Our case studies show that sustainable shorelines can survive major storm events repeatedly, once the vegetation has become well established.


The lifecycle costs and lifespan of sustainable shorelines are functionally equivalent to the costs and longevity of traditional shoreline protection structures, like wooden or steel bulkheads. However, sustainable shorelines provide many additional benefits, such as carbon sequestration, water filtration, and habitat for fish and other animals. 


Sustainable shorelines are designed to require little to no management once the vegetation becomes well-established. However, until that point, temporary adaptive management will likely be necessary to maintain the shoreline. Our case studies highlight particular designs that required little to no management. 

Monitoring is essential.

Routine monitoring for the first five years post-construction ensures that any performance issues are caught and addressed before they can cause too much damage. We provide assistance with monitoring newly constructed sustainable shorelines. Contact us to learn more.