State of the Beach/Beach Indicators/Shoreline Structures

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As a result of significant coastal development, many states have permitted methods of coastal armoring to protect structures from hazards such as extreme tides, storms, and sea level rise. Coastal armoring is a form of ‘structural shoreline stabilization’ which protects development rather than the coast. This quick-fix approach is intended to reinforce unstable coastlines and create a physical buffer between developments and the waterline.

Methods of armoring include the construction of jetties, vertical seawalls, and riprap or revetments, which are large rocks, boulders, or artificial counterparts placed on the beach. Unfortunately, these armoring techniques are costly, provide only short-term protection, result in the loss of natural coastline and actually exacerbate the rate of erosion. To make matters worse, shoreline structures are often permitted under "emergency" conditions for temporary use and are never removed. Adequate coastal armoring policies prevent the use of hard armoring, restrict inappropriate construction and repair, prevent emergency permitting directly after storms and promote soft stabilization mechanisms that increase coastal resiliency, such as living shorelines that use native vegetation to protect wetlands and coastal areas. It's important to realize that there are viable alternatives to shoreline armoring. Check out NOAA's great website that covers this topic.

In this report, we present findings on the state's ability to meet the following checklist:

1. State restricts or prohibits construction of hard stabilization structures.
2. State restricts the repair/ replacement & encourage removal of hard stabilization structures.
3. State encourages non-structural shoreline stabilization alternatives (living shorelines, restoration, managed retreat, etc).
4. State avoids emergency permitting of hard stabilization structures.

As part of the requirements of Section 306 of the federal Coastal Zone Management Act to study and assess ways to "control and lessen" the effects of erosion, state coastal management programs made shoreline structures policy a part of their coastal management plan. By tallying the extent of the armored shoreline, Surfrider illustrates the cumulative effects of coastal structures and educates local and state coastal managers on the magnitude of this problem. In addition, local citizens are able to see the extent to which their beaches are armored.

State Shoreline Structures Reports

Select a state from the list below to view the Shoreline Structures indicator page for that state: