Shoreline Management

  • Marsh Erosion
    Marsh Erosion  The marsh in the foreground still provides some protection to a portion of the bank. Along the rest of the bank, the marsh has eroded away leading to the placement of riprap along the shoreline to stop bank erosion.  Photo by Shoreline Studies Program
  • Marsh Management
    Marsh Management  A stable coastal profile consisting of a wide marsh and vegetated upland.  Photo by Shoreline Studies Program
  • Stable Coast
    Stable Coast  A stable coastal profile consisting of a beach,vegetated backshore, dune, and upland.  Photo by Shoreline Studies Program
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Social, economic, and environmental pressures are increasing in coastal areas along Chesapeake Bay and Virginia’s southeast ocean coast.  People enjoy living by and visiting the coast such that the pressure for more housing and coastal-based services is increasing.  This sort of development places stress on natural coastal habitats that are vital to Chesapeake Bay.

House threatened by erosion because shore protection failedWith approximately 85% of the Bay's shoreline privately owned, a critical need exists to increase awareness of erosion potential and the choices available for shore stabilization that maintains habitats at the land-water boundary.

What is Shoreline Management?

Shoreline Management is the act of dealing – in a planned way – with actual and potential coastal erosion and its relation to planned or existing development activities on the coast.

Through its Shoreline Management Plans , Shoreline Protection Plans, and applied research, The Shoreline Studies Program at the Virginia Insitute of Marine Science, provides information and recommendations to localities and landowners that increases awareness of the choices available for erosion control and shore stabilization.  SSP researches the Geology, Wave Climate, Sea-Level Rise, and Shoreline Erosion Conditions affecting a site in order to make site-specific recommendations.

The Coastal Profile

The goal of shoreline stabilization is to develop a coastal profile that protects the upland structures and provides critical Bay habitats.  Defensive structures, such as revetments or bulkheads, protect property but generally do not provide the environmental edge at the land/water boundary that enhances water quality and supports the animals of the Bay.A natural coastal profile with nearshore, shoreline, and upland vegetation.

In high energy areas, a wide beach with a dune or vegetated backshore and gently sloping upland bank provides natural protection from storm surge and waves. In low energy areas, a wide marsh protects the base of the upland bank from erosion.

As the beaches and marshes become more narrow or non-existent through erosion, the upland is no longer protected from storm surge and waves.  In inhabited areas, this usually results in the landowner taking steps to protect their property and stabilize the shoreline.

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