Priorities for 2018-2022 focus on accelerating progress toward the Shoreline Armoring Vital Sign.
Puget Sound’s 2,500 miles of shoreline are among the most valuable and fragile of our natural resources. A dynamic area where land and marine ecosystems meet, the shoreline is constantly changing with the action of wind, waves, tides, and erosion. These forces are also the reason why people often build bulkheads or other structures to harden the shoreline. Indeed, approximately 27 percent of the shoreline has been armored to protect public and private property, ports and marinas, roads and railways, and other uses. Shoreline armoring, the practice of constructing bulkheads (also known as seawalls) and rock revetments, disrupts the natural process of erosion, which supplies much of the sand and gravel that forms and maintains our beaches. Erosion also creates habitat for herring, surf smelt, salmon, and many other species in Puget Sound. Over time, shoreline armoring may cause once sandy beaches to become rocky and sediment starved, making them inhospitable to many of our native species. The Shoreline Armoring Vital Sign indicator tracks changes in the total amount of shoreline armor in the nearshore, marine environment. Preventing new armor and restoring natural shorelines through armor removal is a priority to sustain the physical processes that sustain shoreline structure and function. Protection and restoration of feeder bluffs are one of the highest priorities due to their important sediment supply role.
Derived from the Shoreline Armoring Implementation Strategy, the 2018-2022 Regional Priorities focus on protecting and restoring shoreline processes. The Priorities first emphasizes that the information (armor location and attributes, sea level rise projections, and vulnerable infrastructure, etc.) and the regulatory capacity are in place to enable protection and restoration planning and implementation of existing regulations. The design of multi-benefit plans is seen as the most viable approach to identifying high-quality protection or restoration sites along the shoreline while addressing the needs of residential property owners, public land uses, and industrial or commercial infrastructure. At the same time, the Regional Priorities provide an opportunity to address the regulatory implementation and compliance issues that reduce the protectiveness of existing regulations or make restoration difficult to implement. Finally, once the capacity and plan are in place, the Regional Priorities promote implementing the site specific actions identified through planning and prioritization, developing education and incentive programs to assist residential property owners in protection or restoration, and monitoring project outcomes to help achieve long-lasting and adaptable shoreline protection and restoration.