Shoreline Best Management Practices

Guidance intended to help regulators, property owners, and others make decisions regarding coastal resources based on surrounding shoreline conditions.  It is the Commonwealth’s policy that living shoreline practices are the preferred alternatives where possible. The definition of a living shoreline means a shoreline management practice that:

  • provides erosion control and water quality benefits;
  • protects, restores or enhances natural shoreline habitat; and
  • maintains coastal processes

through the strategic placement of plants, stone, sand fill, and other structural and organic materials.  [Code of Virginia §28.2-104.1]

Shoreline Decision Tools

The most current scientific understanding based on CCRM research and published literature underpin shoreline decision support tools.

Self-Guided Decision Trees – 2010

Description: A series of tree-like flow charts with questions and answers about shoreline characteristics that leads the user to the environmentally preferred approach for management of that shoreline. 

Target Audience: For use by local government staff, citizen board members, and state regulatory and non-regulatory agents involved in shoreline management project review and permitting. 

Format: Printable handout

Gateway: Self-Guided Decision Trees

Shoreline Management Model – 2019

Description: The Shoreline Management Model (SMM) is a GIS model that applies decision tree logic to derive the best management practices for a shoreline and where living shorelines are suitable.  In the current version (v 5.1) there are 6 possible shoreline best management practices: 1) non-structural living shoreline, 2) plant marsh with sill, 3) groin field with beach nourishment, 4) maintain beach or construct offshore breakwater with beach nourishment, 5) revetment, and 6) revetment/bulkhead toe revetment.

The model is limited in ability to derive a preferred shoreline management practice for settings where remotely sensed data is limited or best practices require highly engineered solutions, such as intensely developed landscapes or shorelines with banks greater than 30 feet high. This means there are sections of the shoreline that do not produce a recommendation of management. The model output for these condition is captured under “Special Considerations” to address ecological or land use management conflicts, special geomorphic features, and engineering challenges.  

The model is available for all of Tidewater Virginia, along major portions of the Gulf of Mexico, and portions of Maryland.  Since the model is automated, the user merely needs to identify the location of the site of interest.  No other knowledge is required. 

Target Audience: The model was primarily developed for use by local government staff, citizen board members, and state regulatory agents involved in shoreline management project review and permitting. 

Format: It is best used for desk-top reviews. Shoreline Management Model v. 5.1, 2019

Gateway:  Shoreline Management Model output is delivered for each locality in a Comprehensive Map Viewer and digital shape file found in CCRMP Locality Portals. 

Shoreline Decision Support Tool – 2020

Description: The Shoreline Decision Support Tool (DST) is an interactive tool that combines on-site observations with Shoreline Management Model recommendations to provide on the fly shoreline best management options based on user input to a sequence of questions. There are imbedded help menus, photos, examples and links for more information to assist the user in answering questions accurately and following up on next steps.

Target Audience: The DST is for homeowners, marine contractors, local government staff, citizen board members, and state regulatory agents involved in shoreline management project review and permitting. 

Format: Interactive program that works on desktop and mobile devices.

Gateway:  Shoreline Decision Support Tool