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Before and after composite view at the site of a 2013 bulkhead-removal project on the shore of Penrose Point State Park in Pierce County. Composite: Kris Symer, PSI; original photos: Kristin Williamson, South Puget Sound Salmon Enhancement Group
Before and after composite view at the site of a 2013 bulkhead-removal project on the shore of Penrose Point State Park in Pierce County. Composite: Kris Symer, PSI; original photos: Kristin Williamson, South Puget Sound Salmon Enhancement Group

Shoreline armoring implementation strategy finalized

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Following a public comment and external review period, the EPA-funded Habitat Strategic Initiative team has officially released a Shoreline Armoring Implementation Strategy, which aims to reduce shoreline armoring in Puget Sound. The team developed the strategy in partnership with the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife, Washington Department of Natural Resources, Puget Sound Partnership, Puget Sound Institute, and an Interdisciplinary Team of experts.

Shoreline armoring such as bulkheads and seawalls interrupts natural beach function and reduces food for salmon and other species across more than 27% of Puget Sound’s shoreline. The state has set a 2020 target of removing more armoring than is created in Puget Sound, although progress toward this goal been spare and hard-won. Five regional counties have showed net decreases in armoring since 2011, but officials reported a net gain of .86 miles in new armoring Sound-wide from 2011 – 2016. Collectively, an estimated 800 miles of Puget Sound’s shoreline is classified as armored. The implementation strategy encourages alternatives to hard armor and recommends improved enforcement to stop illegal shoreline structures that can damage habitat.

The Puget Sound Institute (PSI) worked closely with the Strategic Initiative team and its partners throughout the development of the implementation strategy. PSI scientists provided technical support and analysis, as well as a state of the the knowledge report on shoreline armoring in Puget Sound.

Read more about the implementation strategy at the Puget Sound strategic initiatives blog. 

For more about the science and other issues surrounding shoreline armoring, you can read our series “Rethinking shoreline armoring” in the Encyclopedia of Puget Sound.