Top 10 Reasons to Build a Living Shoreline

  1. Save money.
    Data collected after Hurricanes Irene (2011) and Arthur (2014) show that property owners with bulkheads reported double the price to repair hurricane damage to their property and four times the cost for annual shoreline maintenance compared to property owners with living shorelines.
    *Source: Smith A., Carter S., Gittmanb, Rachel K., et al. (2017) Hurricane damage along natural and hardened estuarine shorelines: Using homeowner experiences to promote nature-based coastal protection.
  2. Increase your property value.
    The multitude of benefits listed here make your property more valuable.
    *Source: Coastal Review Online. 07/27/2015. Report Cites Benefits of Living Shoreline
  3. Improve the aesthetics of your property.
    Bulkheads simply cannot offer the natural beauty provided by a living shoreline.
  4. Improve water quality near to your property.
    The ability of living shorelines to remove nitrogen improves water quality and reduces the likelihood of excessive algal growth that can harm human health and aquatic life.
    *Source: Coastal Review Online. 08/09/2018. Study: Living Shorelines Help Water Quality.
  5. Reduce bank erosion and property loss.
    Living shorelines can protect land from erosion. Salt marshes have been shown to dissipate wave energy by 50 percent.
    *Source: NOAA Habitat Blueprint. 2015. NOAA Guidance for Considering the Use of Living Shorelines.
    Case Study: Durant’s Point Living Shoreline
  6. Improve storm resiliency. 
    Living shorelines have outperformed hardened shorelines during storm events. On sheltered coasts along North Carolina’s Outer Banks, marshes outperformed bulkheads during Category 1 Hurricane Irene in 2011 and Hurricane Mathew in 2016.
    *Sources: Smith, Carter S., Pucket, Brandon, Gittman, Rachel K., Perterson, Charles H. (2016) Living Shorelines Enhanded the Resilience of Saltmarshes to Hurricane Matthew.
    Gittman, R.K., A.M. Popowich, J.F. Bruno,and C.H. Peterson (2014) Marshes with and without sill protect estuarine shorelines from erosion better than bulkheads during a Category 1 hurricane. Ocean & Coastal Management 102: 94-102.
  7. Provide recreational access to your beach.
    Living shorelines can be used to increase your beach and swimming area.
    *See Center for Coastal Resource and Management. Living Shorelines: Beaches and Dunes
  8. Increase spawning habitat for aquatic life.
    The abundance of crabs, bivalves like clams and oysters, and many fish species decline as the amount of hardened shoreline increases. Hardened shorelines also show significantly less spawning by Atlantic silversides, an important small fish that many larger fish rely on for food.
    *Source: National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science. 02/08/2018. Living Shoreline Research featured in “Estuaries and Coasts” Special Issue.
  9. Restore wildlife habitat.
    Living shorelines feature beneficial, natural plant life and allow loose seaweed and other vegetation to wash up, which provides nesting habitat for turtles and other animals and shelter for juvenile creatures.
    *Source: Maryland Department of Natural Resources. 10/01/2015. Living Shorelines, Healthier Waters
  10. Permitting is quick and inexpensive.
    In Virginia, for soft shoreline permits, neither a public interest review, notification of adjoining landowners, nor a permit fee is required as they are in other shoreline hardening activities. For more advanced living shorelines, neither a public interest review nor a permit fee is required for the permit.


Restore America’s Estuaries. 2015. Living Shorelines: From Barriers to Opportunities. Arlington, VA.

Coastal Review Online. 07/27/2015. Report Cites Benefits of Living Shorelines.

FEMA. June 2018. Fact Sheet: Bioengineered Shoreline Stabilization.

Stafford, S., Guthrie, A.G. What Drives Property Owners to Modify Their Shorelines? A Case Study of Gloucester County, Virginia. Wetlands (2020).

Northern Neck Planning District Commission. Living Shorelines Initiative.

Coastal Review Online. 08/09/2018. Study: Living Shorelines Help Water Quality.

Coastal Review Online. 02/09/16. Evidence Mounts of Shorelines’ Success.

Southern Environmental Law Center. 05/23/2016. Shift to Living Shorelines Preserves Precious Coast.

Coastal Restoration Toolkit: Coastal Erosion Project Examples   

The Costs of Shoreline Stabilization

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