Estuarine Shoreline Stabilization
As coastal communities experience continued population growth, development trends have shifted away from oceanfront properties to sheltered estuarine properties. Not only are oceanfront properties in limited supply but sheltered coasts are becoming a more popular building location since they offer water accessibility but are protected from the full fury of coastal storms. These same sheltered estuarine areas are some of the most biologically productive and ecologically valuable habitats in the coastal region.
Estuarine shorelines experience erosion by both short-term (tides, storms, wind, boat wakes, etc.) and long term (sea level rise) processes. As a consequence, sheltered coasts are subject to continual loss of land. Erosion control management in North Carolina allows property owners to protect their shoreline from erosion, while attempting to minimize the impacts of erosion control structures. Property owners have the option to stabilize their shoreline with a wide range of vertical and sloped structures. As sea level rises the number of landowners seeking stabilization of their shoreline will also increase. The hardening of a few properties has relatively little impact, but the proliferation of structures along the shoreline not only changes the coastal environment but it also changes the ecosystem function of these areas.
The North Carolina National Estuarine Research Reserve and the NOAA Center for Coastal Fisheries and Habitat Research was awarded a $715,000 grant from the Cooperative Institute for Coastal and Estuarine Environmental Technology (CICEET) to examine different methods of erosion prevention in sheltered coastlines.
As part of CICEET's Living Coasts Program, the project, "Sustainable estuarine shoreline stabilization: Research, education, and public policy in North Carolina" is focused on understanding the environmental and economic tradeoffs of alternative erosion control measures. CICEET is a partnership of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the University of New Hampshire. CICEET works with NOAA's National Estuarine Research Reserve System to develop tools for clean water and healthy coastal environments nationwide.
- Estuarine Shoreline Stabilization Grant
- Estuarine Shoreline Stabilization Options
- N.C. Division of Coastal Management Rules
- Stabilization Method Selection Key (pdf)