Shoreline Management Resources

The following annotated bibliography includes papers, reports, websites and other resources on a variety of shoreline management topics:


Canning, Doug and Hugh Shipman. 1995. Coastal Erosion Management Studies in Puget Sound, Washington: Executive Summary. Coastal Erosion Management Studies, Vol. 1. Washington Department of Ecology. Olympia, Washington.

Note: This report provides a summary of a series of nine reports commissioned or completed by the Shorelands and Coastal Zone Management program of the Washington Department of Ecology to address coastal erosion management. The project is dedicated to seeking answers to questions on appropriate technical standards for coastal erosion management, the environmental impact of shoreline stabilization techniques, and the assessment and development of policy alternatives. See also Cox et al. (1994), McDonald et al. (1994), McDonald and Wikek (1994), McCabe and Wellman (1994), Terich et al. (1994), Thom and Shreffer (1994) for other reports in this series.

National Academies of Sciences. 2006.  Mitigating Shoreline Erosion Along Sheltered Coasts. Ocean Studies Board, National Academies of Sciences, Washington, D.C.

Note: This report examines the impacts of shoreline management on sheltered coasts and calls for a regional management approach that considers the environmental impacts that could accumulate if hard structures are permitted on a site by site basis. In addition, this report recommends changing the current permitting system to remove the default preference for bulkheads and similar structures and to allow more flexibility to encourage use of more ecologically beneficial erosion-control methods, such as planting of marshes. 

Northcutt, Greg. 2001. Defending the Coast from Attack. Erosion Control 8: 56-64.

Note: This overview article provides an introduction to the state of erosion along the U.S. coast and what causes erosion. The benefits and problems associated with common hard shoreline stabilization approaches are discussed as well as softer policy, planning and engineering approaches that states are using. Examples from California, Florida, Oregon, Rhode Island and North Carolina are used to illustrate various management approaches.

Shoreline Change, Hazard Assessment, and Other Decision-Support Tools

NOAA Coastal Services Center. Coastal Management Tools.

Note: This website contains links to a variety of coastal management tools the Coastal Services Center has developed to assist coastal managers. While not limited to hazards issues, many of the tools are hazard related tools.

NOAA Coastal Services Center. Shoreline Change Conference Proceedings. May 7-9, 2002, Charleston, SC.

Note: Workshop brought together researchers and practitioners involved in developing and using shoreline change estimation technology. Data and technologies for measuring shoreline change, as well as methodologies and applications to effectively document and understand this phenomenon were presented.

NOAA Coastal Services Center. Digital Coast

Note: The Digital Coast provides data, tools, and training to help coastal managers to solve important coastal management issues. While broader than shoreline management, the Digital Coast includes many relevant resources such as a coastal inundation toolkit and information on conserving coastal wetlands for sea level rise adaptation.

NOAA Coastal Storms Program

Note: The Coastal Storms Program is a nationwide effort to make communities safer by reducing the loss of life and negative impacts caused by coastal storms. The program has developed numerous tools to help different regions around the country prepare for and respond to coastal storms. Many of the tools such as risk and vulnerability assessment tools may be helpful to shoreline managers.

NOAA Coastal Services Center. Shoreline Change Conference II:  A Workshop on Managing Shoreline Change. May 3-5, 2006, Charleston, SC.

Note: The workshop continued the dialogue begun at the Shoreline Change Conference of 2002 by bringing together researchers and coastal managers who are interested in shoreline change and coastal management decisions. Presenters and participants reviewed current technology, tools, data, and procedures used to analyze shoreline change, as well as federal programs that are developing and applying shoreline data sets. The workshop also emphasized state- and community-level management applications and challenges, with the ultimate goal of unifying local and national needs.

NOAA Coastal Data Development Center. Coastal Risk Atlas.

Note: The Coastal Risk Atlas (CRA) is a project developed to aid hurricane preparedness efforts by providing the data and methodology necessary to conduct vulnerability assessments for the coastal United States. Data provided within the CRA include acquired model outputs of hazards such as storm surge, maximum winds, and inland flooding. Demographic data helps in locating vulnerable populations. Land use data show the economic sectors within the community. Further, critical facilities are included to show vital locations in relation with potential hazards. Finally, base layers such as roads and streams put the data into context. The CRA also provides mapping, assessment tools, and information to help the user better understand the community in which they live. The resources available include: (1) Vulnerability Assessment Mapping; (2) Observations and National Vulnerability Mapping; (3) Downloadable ArcGIS Extensions; (4) Downloadable Data Links to GIS and Emergency Management Resources.

NOAA Sea Grant. Coastal Hazards Digital Library.

Note: This site contains links to Sea Grant coastal hazards publications. Relevant publication topics include erosion, erosion control, coastal constructions and hazard management.

US Army Corps of Engineers. National Shoreline Management Study.

Note: The study contributes to ongoing efforts to improve coastal management. The study primarily focuses on: erosion and accretion and its causes; environmental implications of shoreline change; economic implications of shoreline change; agency roles and contributions in restoring and renourishing shores; and systematic movement of sand.

US Geological Survey. National Assessments of Coastal Change Hazards.

Note: This is a multi-year undertaking to identify and quantify the vulnerability of U.S. shorelines to coastal change hazards such as the effects of severe storms, sea-level rise, and shoreline erosion. It will continue to improve our understanding of processes that control these hazards, and will allow researchers to determine the probability of coastal change locally, regionally, and nationally.

Western Carolina University. Coastal Hazards Clearinghouse. Coastal Hazard Maps.

Note: Contains coastal hazard erosion risk maps for ocean and Great Lake coasts. Maps can be viewed and/or downloaded online.

Policy or Regulatory Approaches

Land Trust Alliance. Conservation Easements Website.

Note: Although not specific to erosion control easements, this website provides more detail on what a conservation easement is and how it works.

The Heinz Center. 2000. Evaluation of Erosion Hazards. The H. John Heinz III Center for Science, Economics and the Environment, April 2000.

Note: This report summary describes the nature of the coastal erosion hazard by region, the costs of shoreline erosion today and in the future, and current federal and state policies to address eroding areas. The report also recommends a series of possible changes to the National Flood Insurance Program.

McCabe, Gretchen and Katherine Wellman. 1994. Policy Alternatives for Coastal Erosion Management. Coastal Erosion Management Studies, Vol. 6. Washington State Department of Ecology. Publication 94-79.

Note: Originally developed as part of a nine volume series by Washington’s Coastal Management Program for their coastal enhancement program under Section 309 of the Coastal Zone Management Act. This report describes various policy approaches that can be used to address shoreline erosion, including discussions on their technical effectiveness; environmental appropriateness; legal and regulatory acceptability; cost of implementation; socio-political acceptability and ease of implementation. Although focused on the Puget Sound Region, case studies from across the country are used to illustrate how the policy approaches are being implemented.

McCabe, Gretchen and Katherine Wellman. 1994. Regional Approaches to Address Coastal Erosion Management. Coastal Erosion Management Studies, Vol. 9. Washington State Department of Ecology. Publication 94-82.

Note: Originally developed as part of a nine volume series by Washington’s Coastal Management Program for their coastal enhancement program under Section 309 of the Coastal Zone Management Act. This report focuses on regional approaches to address erosion, including covenants, easements, economic incentives and other policy tools.

Nelson, Arthur C., Rick Pruetz, and Doug Woodruff. 2011.  The TDR Handbook: Designing and Implementing Transfer of Development Rights Programs.  Island Press. NOAA Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management. 2012. Protecting the Public Interest through the National Coastal Zone Management Program:  How States and Territories Use No-Build Areas along Ocean and Great Lakes Shorefronts.

Note: The report summarizes where coastal states and territories employ shorefront no-build areas (e.g., through setbacks and/or zoning) along ocean and Great Lake shorefronts to protect the public interest.

Surfrider Foundation’s State of the Beach Report.

Note: Describes each state's policy on the construction, placement, and maintenance of erosion response structures on the shoreline, including how well they limit shoreline armoring and encourage relocation once a structure is destroyed or damaged by erosion. For shoreline erosion specific information, select the state(s) you are interested in under the “State Reports” section and then go to the “Beach Erosion,” “Beach Fill,” and “Shoreline Structures” sections. Additional summary information can also be found under the “For CZMs” section under the “Shoreline Structure” or “Beach Fill” headings.

Titus, James. 1998. Rising Seas, Coastal Erosion, and the Takings Clause: How to Save Wetlands and Beaches Without Hurting Property Owners. Maryland Law Review. 57: 1279-1399.

Note: This paper presents background information on projected sea level rise in the United States and outlines and analyzes three approaches to protect tidelands as the sea level rises: (1) preventing development in vulnerable areas seaward of a "setback line;" (2) deferring action; and (3) establishing rolling easements, policies that allow development but prohibit property owners from holding back the sea. The paper also includes options for retaining public shorelines even where bulkheads are built.

Model Ordinances/By-laws

The Stormwater Manager’s Resource Center.

Note: While this site focuses on tools to manage stormwater, some of the model ordinances and sample ordinances provided, such as the stream buffer ordinances, could be useful to someone developing an overlay district to address shoreline erosion. For example, the Baltimore County, MD ordinance provided includes language specifying the expansion of buffers for erodible soils and steep slopes. The Rhode Island ordinance provides an example from a coastal region.

Center for Watershed Protection. Sample Wetland and Watercourse Ordinance for Croton-on-the-Hudson, NY.

Note: This ordinance protects wetlands by restricting development and requiring measures to prevent pollution from development near wetlands. Although not specific to shoreline erosion, many of the same general principles still apply.

Engineered Shoreline Management Approaches

Burke, David et al. 2004. Assessment of Hybrid Type Shore Erosion Control Projects in Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay. Produced for the Coastal Zone Management Division, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Annapolis, MD.

Note: This report provides the results of a study conducted by the University of Maryland, Burke Environmental Associates, and J.A. Rice Inc. for Maryland’s Shore Erosion Control Program to assess the effectiveness of several hybrid type shoreline erosion control projects in the Chesapeake Bay region. The hybrid projects coupled fringe marsh restoration with stone sills or groins. All projects achieved erosion control and provided habitat benefits while maintaining and enhancing coastal processes.

Cox, Jack et al. 1994. Engineering and Geotechnical Techniques for Shoreline Erosion Management in Puget Sound. Coastal Erosion Management Studies, Vol. 4. Washington Department of Ecology. Olympia, Washington.

Note: Originally developed as part of a nine volume series by Washington’s Coastal Management Program for their coastal enhancement program under Section 309 of the Coastal Zone Management Act. This report presents a range of shoreline protection techniques that are technically feasible for shorelines around Puget Sound, emphasizing residential applications. The methods include constructing traditional hard structures as well as "soft" solutions that use natural site features or materials. Hard structures include bulkheads and riprap. Soft approaches include creation of new beach, introduction of erosion-resistant vegetation, dewarting of the beach face, and others. Also presented are feasible hybrid systems that combine individual hard and soft techniques, as well as quite different non-construction related activities such as building setbacks and drain field removal.

Macdonald, et al. 1994. Shoreline Armoring Effects on Physical Coastal Processes in Puget Sound, Washington. Coastal Erosion Management Studies, Vol. 5. Washington Department of Ecology. Olympia, Washington.

Note: This report summarizes the present understanding of shoreline physical processes within Puget Sound and how they are impacts by the installation of shore protection structures. Information in this report can assist resources and regulatory agency planning and permitting staff to more accurately assess the potential impacts of proposed coastal construction both locally and at adjacent sites, as well as cumulatively within the regional zone of influence.

Macdonald, Keith and Bonnie Witek. 1994. Management Options for Unstable Bluffs in Puget Sound, Washington. Coastal Erosion Management Studies, Vol 8. Washington Department of Ecology. Olympia, Washington.

Note: Originally developed as part of a nine volume series by Washington’s Coastal Management Program for their coastal enhancement program under Section 309 of the Coastal Zone Management Act. The objectives of this report are to describe the general characteristics of Puget Sound shoreline banks and bluffs; describe common forms of slope failure experiences around Puget Sound; describe the principal causes of slope failure; outline a range of slope management techniques available to address potential causes of failure; describe an approach for selection of slope management methods most appropriate to site-specific concerns; identify data gaps and future study needs.

O'Connell, James. 2002. Stabilizing Dunes and Coastal Banks using Vegetation and Bioengineering: Proceedings of a Workshop held at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, MA. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Report WHOI-2002-12.

Note: This document captures the proceedings from a February 28, 2002 workshop sponsored by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. The workshop provided state-of-the-art scientific and case history engineering applications of non-structural/bioengineering and coastal vegetation-related erosion control and wildlife habitat enhancement techniques. The history and theory of bioengineering in coastal areas was discussed as well.

Stamski, Rebecca. 2005. The Impacts of Coastal Protection Structures in California's Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Marine Sanctuaries Conservation Series. MSD-05-3. U.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Marine Sanctuaries Division, Silver Spring, MD.

Note: This report outlines the potential impacts of coastal protection structures on the resources of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. The summary is intended to provide general background information for Sanctuary policies on coastal armoring. The impacts discussed include: aesthetic depreciation, beach loss due to placement, access restriction, loss of sand supply from eroding cliffs, passive erosion, and active erosion. In addition, the potential biological impacts are explored. Finally, an appraisal of how differing armor types compare in relation to impacts, expense and engineering is presented.

Rogers, Spencer and Tracy E. Skrabal. 2001. Managing Erosion on Estuarine Shorelines. The Soundfront Series. North Carolina SeaGrant. UNC-SG-01-12.

Note: This publication is primarily focused on structural and non-structural techniques for controlling erosion from already eroding shorelines. However, it also includes sections on the causes and effects of estuarine shoreline erosion, how to conduct a site evaluation and plan for estuarine shoreline stabilization options, as well as how to use land use management as a tool to prevent erosion.  

Terich, Thomas., et al. 1994. Annotated Bibliographies on Shoreline Hardening Effects, Vegetative Erosion Control, and Beach Nourishment. Coastal Erosion Management Studies, Vol 2. Washington Department of Ecology. Olympia, Washington.

Note: Originally developed as part of a nine volume series by Washington’s Coastal Management Program for their coastal enhancement program under Section 309 of the Coastal Zone Management Act. This report consists of a collection of separate annotated bibliographies prepared for the Shorelands and Coastal Zone Management Program, Washington Department of Ecology. Bibliographies focus on: (1) effects of seawalls and other forms of shoreline hardening; (2) vegetative erosion control; and (3) beach nourishment.

Thom, Ronald and David Shreffer. 1994. Shoreline Armoring Effects on Coastal Ecology and Biological Resources in Puget Sound, Washington. Coastal Erosion Management Studies, Vol. 7. Washington Department of Ecology. Olympia, Washington.

Note: Originally developed as part of a nine volume series by Washington’s Coastal Management Program for their coastal enhancement program under Section 309 of the Coastal Zone Management Act. The report identifies the affects of shoreline armoring has on habitat structure, ecological processes and selected biological resources of the nearshore zone of Puget Sound. Effects are addressed as: (1) temporary direct effects; (2) permanent direct effects; (3) permanent indirect effects; and (4) cumulative effects.

Virginia Institute of Marine Science, Living Shoreline Design: A Class for Marine Contractors.

Note: This online course educates shoreline project designers and contractors about the use of "living shoreline" designs. Through three separate modules (Ecosystem Services, Site Suitability and Design Criteria), the course explains the benefits of living shorelines, when to use various living shoreline designs, and specific design criteria that should be followed. While the course if focused on the Chesapeake Bay region, much of the guidance can be more broadly applied.

Williams, Gregory and Ronald Thom. 2001. Marine and Estuarine Shoreline Modification Issues White Paper. Submitted to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Washington Department of Ecology and Washington Department of Transportation, April 17, 2001.

Note: This white paper, focused on the Puget Sound region, summarizes the current knowledge and technology pertaining to marine and shoreline modification issues based on a comprehensive literature review. Topics addressed include structural and non-structural shoreline stabilization methods (e.g., bulkheads, beach nourishment, biotechnology, setbacks, vegetation management, ground/surface water management, tide gates, outfalls, artificial reefs, and estuary restoration.)  The ecological and habitat issues associated with these activities, structures, and features, as well as mitigation techniques for ecosystem impacts are addressed.

Shoreline Management Economics

Dunn, Steve, et al. 2000. Coastal Erosion - Evaluating the Risk. Environment 42: 36-45.

Note: This article is based on the findings from the “Evaluation of Erosion Hazards” at The Heinz Center. The article documents the results of this nationwide study on coastal erosion and the impacts of coastal erosion on coastal communities and the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The study examines the economic impacts of coastal erosion and the impact of potential policy changes on the National Flood Insurance Fund, NFIP policyholders and coastal communities. Based on the reports findings, recommendations for the following two changes to the National Flood Insurance Program were made: the Federal Emergency Management Agency should develop erosion hazard maps that display the location and extent of coastal areas subject to erosion; the expected cost of erosion losses should be incorporated into insurance rates along the coast.

Ecosystem Valuation

Note: Ecosystem Valuation is a website that describes how economists value the beneficial ways that ecosystems affect people. It is designed for non-economists who need answers to questions about the benefits of ecosystem conservation, preservation, or restoration. It provides a clear, non-technical explanation of ecosystem valuation concepts, methods, applications, and case studies.

Kriesel, Warren and Robert Friedman. 2002. Coastal Hazards and Economic Externality: Implications for Beach Management Policies in the American Southeast. Washington, D.C., H. John Heinz III Center for Science, Economics and the Environment, May 2002.

Note: This paper reports on a study conducted that compares the economic effects on property values of beach nourishment and shoreline stabilization. Results indicate that shoreline stabilization tends to increase property values for waterfront properties, but decrease property values a few rows inland. Additionally, as more waterfront property owners stabilize the shoreline, all waterfront property values decline to approximately where they started. Beach nourishment tends to increase property values for both waterfront and non-waterfront property owners.

Landry, Craig E., et al. 2003. An Economic Evaluation of Beach Erosion Management Alternatives. Marine Resource Economics 18: 105-127.

Note: This paper examines the relative economic efficiency of three distinct beach erosion management policies — beach nourishment with shoreline armoring, beach nourishment without armoring, and shoreline retreat. The analysis focuses on: (i) the recreational benefits of beaches; (ii) the property value effects of beach management; and (iii) the costs associated with the three management scenarios. Assuming the removal of shoreline armoring improves overall beach quality, beach nourishment with shoreline armoring is the least desirable of the three alternatives. The countervailing property losses under a retreat strategy are of the same order of magnitude as the foregone management costs when the beneficial effects of retreat — higher values of housing services for those houses not lost to erosion — are considered. The relative desirability of these alternative strategies depends upon the realized erosion rate and how management costs change over time.

Lipton, Douglas W., et al. 1995. Economic Valuation of Natural Resources--A Handbook for Coastal Resource Policymakers. Decision Analysis Series.  NOAA Coastal Ocean Program. Silver Spring, MD, NOAA Coastal Ocean Office: 131.

Note: This handbook was developed following a series of workshops sponsored by NOAA. The major focus of this handbook is on introducing and illustrating concepts of environmental valuation, among them Cost-Benefit Analysis, Travel Cost models and Contingent Valuation. Because the handbook is intended for non-economists, it addresses basic concepts of economic value such as willingness-to-pay and other tools often used in decision making such as cost effectiveness analysis, economic impact analysis, and sustainable development.  A number of regionally oriented case studies are included to illustrate the practical application of these concepts and techniques.

National Ocean Economics Program

Note: This website for the National Ocean Economics Program (NOEP) provides data sets for a full range of the most current economic and socio-economic information available on economic and social patterns in the coast and coastal oceans. The NOEP enables decision makers to evaluate management policies affecting fragile or hazard-prone coastal areas and ensure consistency with national, regional, and states goals aimed at achieving economically and environmentally sustainable development.

NOAA Coastal and Ocean Resource Economics Program

Note: This website provides reports and data sets from the NOAA Coastal and Ocean Resource Economics (CORE) Program. The CORE program conducts marine-related socioeconomic research for a wide variety of applications and geographic areas. Some datasets will be available on this website soon, but all data is available on CD-ROM. Requests for reports and data can be made via e-mail.

NOAA Coastal Services Center. 2009. Introduction to Economics for Coastal Managers

Note: This document provides information about how economics can be applied to coastal resource management by describing different ways of assigning value to resources, discussing a few methods for comparing and assessing different management alternatives, and providing several case studies that show how economic methods were applied to coastal resource management in real-life situations.

Parsons, George R. and Michael Powell. 2001. Measuring the Cost of Beach Retreat. Coastal Management 29: 91-103.

Note: This paper estimates the cost over the next 50 years of allowing Delaware's ocean beaches to retreat inland. Attention is focused on land and capital loss costs, especially in housing. The study uses a hedonic price method  to estimate the value of land and structures in the region. Then, using historical rates of erosion along the coast and an inventory of all housing and commercial structures in the threatened coastal area, predicts the value of the land and capital loss assuming that beaches migrate inland at these historic rates. Comparing these estimates to the current costs of nourishing beaches concludes that nourishment make economic sense, at least over this time period.

US Army Corps of Engineers, Economics of the Shoreline: An Annotated Bibliography for the National Shoreline Management Study

Note: This link is to a PDF of an annotated bibliography for economic literature used in the US Army Corps of Engineers National Shoreline Management Study. For a complete bibliography of all of the economic literature, including resources that are not included in the annotated bibliography, you can also go here.