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Developing alternative shoreline armoring strategies: the living shoreline approach in North Carolina.

Author(s): Currin, Carolyn A., W. S. Chappell and A. Deaton. Shipman, H., M. N. Dethier, G. Gelfenbaum, K. L. Fresh and R. S. Dinicola.

NCCOS Center: CCFHR (http://coastalscience.noaa.gov/about/centers/ccfhr)

Center Team: Beaufort

Name of Publisher: U.S. Geological Survey

Publication Type: Book Chapter

Date of Publication: 2010

Reference Information: 91-102.

Keywords: CCFHR, NOAA Oceans

Abstract: This paper reviews the scientific data on the ecosystem services provided by shoreline habitats and the evidence for adverse impacts from bulkheading on those habitats and services. Alternative shoreline stabilization structures which incorporate natural habitats, also known as living shorelines, have been popularized by environmental groups and state regulatory agencies in the mid-Atlantic. The implementation of regulatory policy on estuarine shoreline stabilization in North Carolina and elsewhere is presented. Recent data on living shoreline projects in North Carolina which include a stone sill demonstrate that the sills increase sedimentation rates, that after 3 years marshes behind the sills have slightly reduced biomass, and that the living shoreline projects exhibit similar rates of fishery utilization as nearby natural fringing marshes. A quantitative analysis of the effectiveness of living shorelines in a variety of energy settings has not been published. Although the current emphasis on shoreline armoring in Puget Sound is on steeper, higher-energy shorelines, armoring of lower-energy shorelines may become an issue in the future with expansion of residential development and projected rates of sea level rise. The regulatory and public education issues experienced in North Carolina which have made changes in estuarine shoreline stabilization policy difficult may inform efforts to adopt a sustainable shoreline armoring strategy in Puget Sound. A necessary foundation for regulatory change in shoreline armoring policy, and public support for that change, is rigorous scientific assessment of the variety of services that natural shoreline habitats provide both to the ecosystem and to coastal communities, and evidence demonstrating that shoreline armoring can adversely impact the provision of those services.

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