NOAA Guidance for Considering the Use of Living Shorelines
Coastal communities face constant challenges from shoreline erosion. Although erosion is a natural coastal process, many valuable resources border the nation’s coastline. Shorelines need protection from damage caused by intense storms, wave erosion, and sea level rise. Shoreline stabilization does not need to create a barrier between land and water, as happens with hard shoreline stabilization structures like seawalls and bulkheads. New stabilization options, like living shorelines, are gaining attention as an alternative to traditional shoreline stabilization techniques. Living shorelines can reduce damage and erosion while simultaneously providing ecosystem services to society, including food production, nutrient and sediment removal, and water quality improvement.
This guidance is intended to provide information on NOAA’s perspective and roles regarding living shorelines implementation. It starts by describing NOAA living shorelines guiding principles, then highlights NOAA’s role in providing science, tools, and training to help inform the selection of appropriate techniques. It also discusses the agency’s role in reviewing living shoreline projects, depending on their location and potential effect on habitats of concern to NOAA, such as critical habitat, essential fish habitat, or protected areas. This guidance also provides a conceptual framework of 12 questions to help NOAA and our partners when planning a shoreline stabilization effort.