Shoreline Management Types: Definitions

Hard/Structural Stabilization

shoreline

Rip rap is one type of hard structural shoreline stabilization.


Definition:
Shore erosion control practices using hardened structures that armor and stabilize the shoreline landward of the structure from further erosion.

Examples:
Bulkheads, concrete sea walls, rip-rap, jetties, groins, breakwaters, stone reinforcement

Potential Benefits:
Can slow erosion rates landward of hardened structure, particularly in high energy environments

Potential Drawbacks:
Often exacerbates erosion seaward of hardened structure
Leads to loss of beach and intertidal habitat
Alters shoreline and water dynamics
May have short life-span before structure failure
Frequently used unnecessarily in low energy environments

Soft/Non-Structural Stabilization

shoreline

Oyster restoration and marsh plantings are used to stabilize an eroding shoreline.


Definition:
Shore erosion control and restoration practices using only plantings or organic materials to restore, protect or enhance the natural shoreline environment.

Examples:
Vegetation plantings (marsh, submerged aquatic vegetation, dune grasses), coir fiber logs or other natural materials, beach nourishment

Potential Benefits:
Creates natural buffer to protect shoreline from erosion
Can trap sediment and allow for increased vegetation
Can preserve or create habitat for benthic, estuarine, shallow water, and intertidal organisms
Maintains natural habitat features and dynamics of shoreline

Potential Drawbacks:
Not often suitable for high-energy environments
May require ongoing maintenance
Typically requires trained contractors who may be less familiar with soft stabilization techniques

Hybrid Stabilization

shoreline

Hybrid stabilization combines low rock sills with marsh restoration.


Definition:
Shore erosion control and restoration practices that are a combination of structural and non-structural techniques.

Examples:
Combining low-profile rock, rubble, oyster reefs, or wood structures with vegetative planting or other soft stabilization techniques such as using marsh plantings with stone containment groins; beach replenishment, segmented sills, and marsh plantings; or beach replenishment with living breakwater (low profile breakwater made with marine limestone rock set with oysters).

Potential Benefits:
Similar benefits to soft stabilization
May be used in wider variety of habitats (typically with slightly higher wave energy)

Potential Drawbacks:
Small to moderate alteration of natural shoreline and water dynamics
May require ongoing maintenance
Typically requires trained contractors who may be less familiar with soft stabilization techniques

Policy & Planning Techniques

Definition:
Shore erosion control strategies that do not physically alter the shoreline, but instead regulate human uses near or on the shoreline.  Often policy and planning techniques are used as a preventative measure to avoid the need for physical shoreline stabilization, or in response to shoreline erosion when physical shoreline stabilization could be costly, ineffective or undesirable.     

Examples:
Managed retreat (relocation of structures and utilities), construction set-backs, land-use planning, buy-backs

Potential Benefits:
Can reduce/avoid the need for erosion control measures
Maintains natural dynamics of shore

Potential Drawbacks:
Can be technically and politically difficult to impose subsequent to permitting the construction of structures along the shore (especially if property values are high or significant development already exists)