Government agencies, research institutions, and conservation groups are another step closer to creating a streamlined process for Alabama and Mississippi residents and contractors looking to protect against shoreline erosion without the use of harmful bulkheads and sea walls.
The Dauphin Island Sea Lab, University of South Alabama, Weeks Bay Reserve, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, Mobile Bay National Estuary Program, Mississippi Alabama Sea Grant Consortium, and the Southern Environmental Law Center are working together under a grant from the Habitat Conservation and Restoration Priority Issue Team of the Gulf of Mexico Alliance to develop design guidelines for living shoreline projects in Alabama and Mississippi.
Nearly half of Mobile Bay’s shoreline and large stretches of Mississippi’s shoreline are currently armored with bulkheads and sea walls. These temporary structures are expensive and can actually accelerate erosion, destroying coastal habitats and valuable ecosystems.
“Living shorelines” are a more natural approach for erosion control that can last for decades, creating a critical aquatic habitat for many species, including shrimp, oysters, and other marine life essential to water and shore health.
The key to living shorelines is reducing wave energy while accommodating for sea level rise and managing sand movement. This can be done by planting marsh grass and constructing reef breakwaters, helping to enhance the shoreline ecosystem and decrease erosion.
The funding will allow the team to develop design guidelines that property owners and contractors can use to develop living shoreline plans that will work for them. To get the word out about the design guidelines, the team will conduct a series of workshops.
Press Release, April 2, 2014