State of the Beach/State Reports/MS/Shoreline Structures
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The following is from the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant publication Living Shorelines: State Regulations in Alabama, Mississippi and Florida:
"Most shoreline stabilization activities in Mississippi will fall under the jurisdiction of the Department of Marine Resources (DMR) and/or the Commission on Marine Resources (CMR), depending on the location and nature of the activity.
Activities on public trust tidelands and submerged lands are regulated by CMR under the Public Trust Tidelands Act, Miss. Code tit. 29, ch. 15. “Tidelands” are defined as “those lands which are daily covered and uncovered by water by the action of the tides, up to the mean line of the ordinary high tides.” “Submerged lands” are defined as “lands which remain covered by waters, where the tides ebb and flow, at ordinary low tides.” These lands may be leased. Lease fees are waived for “public projects of any federal, state or local governmental entity which serve a higher public purpose of promoting the conservation, reclamation, preservation of the tidelands and submerged lands, public use for fishing, recreation or navigation, or the enhancement of public access to such lands.”
Activities on coastal wetlands are regulated by CMR under the Coastal Wetlands Protection Act, Miss. Code tit. 49, ch. 27. “Coastal wetlands” are defined as “all publicly owned lands subject to the ebb and flow of the tide; which are below the watermark of ordinary high tide; all publicly owned accretions above the watermark of ordinary high tide and all publicly owned submerged water-bottoms below the watermark of ordinary high tide” including flora and fauna. Regulated activities under the Act include dredging, filling, killing or injuring plants or animals, and the erection of structures that materially affect the ebb and flow of the tide. Permits from CMR are required for these activities. However, the routine maintenance of bulkheads that existed at the time the Act was passed is not subject to the Act.
Permit application requirements are described in Miss. Code §§ 49-27-11 through –19. When deciding whether to grant a permit, CMR is to consider the policy described in Miss. Code § 49-27-3, which is “to favor the preservation of the natural state of the coastal wetlands and their ecosystems and to prevent the despoliation and destruction of them, except where a specific alteration of specific coastal wetlands would serve a higher public interest in compliance with the public purposes of the public trust in which coastal wetlands are held.”
CMR may include permit conditions to further this policy. Performing unpermitted activities in coastal wetlands may incur financial and criminal penalties and liability to restore affected wetlands.
The DMR serves as the lead agency for the Mississippi Coastal Program, which, among other things, provides for a “one-stop permitting” process for coastal activities. The permit application and supporting documents are available on DMR’s website."
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Mobile District has project information and a GIS database of shoreline structures along the Mississippi coast. This information does not appear to be easily accessible by the general public.
In addition, the Mississippi Coastal Improvements Program, developed in response to massive damage caused by the hurricanes of 2005, includes several structural and non-structural projects designed to increase coastal resiliency to future storms. Structural projects include the Clermont Harbor Seawall, repairs to a seawall in Pascagoula Beach, and extension of the Cowand Point Seawall. More info.
The Fiscal Year 2017 Civil Works Budget for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers provides $4.62 billion in gross discretionary funding for the Civil Works program. This budget lists proposed projects and the associated budget justification by state.
Perception of Effectiveness
Public Education Program
Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium has information on Living Shorelines, a non-structural alternative to coastal armoring. From their website:
"A living shoreline uses living plant material, oyster shells, earthen material, or a combination of natural structures with riprap or offshore breakwaters to protect property from erosion. Erosion is caused by wind, water, and wave action and results in loss of residential and commercial property, reduction of storm buffering capacity, aquatic and terrestrial habitat loss, increased suspended solids and water quality degradation.To combat these effects, property owners often erect bulkheads or seawalls. While these methods are certainly effective, they also tend to alter or create a loss of natural habitat. Living shorelines present an ecological and economic alternative that may be viable for low-erosional settings.
Benefits of Living Shorelines
- Maintain natural coastal processes and shoreline dynamics.
- Create or preserve habitats for native species of aquatic flora and fauna.
- Preserve access for aquatic and terrestrial organisms.
- Maintain land-to-water access for property owners.
- Provide economical means of facilitating sediment accumulation, potentially resulting in formation of new land.
- Create a natural buffer to reduce effects of erosion.
- Trap and retain runoff and pollutants."
Also see Shoreline Protection Alternatives and Living Shorelines: State Regulations in Alabama, Mississippi and Florida.
The 2006-2010 Assessment and Strategy notes:
"DMR reaches out to local jurisdictions, the regulated community, local businesses, and coastal residents through a comprehensive public education program designed to increase awareness of the unique natural and cultural resources that exist within the coastal environment. In recent years the CRMP has increased its outreach efforts beyond the three southern-most coastal counties to include Pearl River, Stone, and George counties to the north of the three coastal counties. CRMP collaborates with such agencies and organizations as the Grand Bay NERR, NOAA, DEQ and local governments to facilitate public education activities. DMR will continue to use existing public outreach opportunities as a forum to encourage participation in local mitigation efforts."
The authors of the book Living with the Alabama-Mississippi Shore offer a vivid, historical overview for understanding the environment of the Alabama-Mississippi shore. They describe the risks faced by new residents, and they point the way toward safe and sane coastal development.
- Miss. Code § 29-15-1(h)
- Id. § 29-15-1(g)
- Id. § 29-15-9
- Id. § 29-15-13
- Miss. Code § 49-27-5(a)
- Id. § 49-27-5(c)
- Id. § 49-27-9
- Id. § 49-27-7(f)
- Id. § 49-27-23
- Id. § 49-27-29
- Id. § 49-27-55, 49-27-57
- Id. § 57-15-6(4)
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