What is a Living Shoreline?
In Choctawhatchee Bay, many property owners use hardened structures such as sea walls, riprap, groins and bulkheads to stabilize and protect waterfront property from erosion caused by wind and wave action. While these “hard” solutions may prevent some localized shoreline erosion, they often act to increase erosion by reflecting wave energy and altering natural sediment movement. Vertical shoreline structures eliminate the varying water depths, wave attenuation and diverse habitat types associated with natural, gradually sloping beaches, seagrass meadows and salt marshes. Loss of nursery, feeding and refuge habitats leads to loss of vital estuarine species.
A living shoreline is a shoreline management option that uses living plants, oyster shells, sand fill, or a combination of natural structures with riprap or offshore breakwaters to protect property from erosion. Living shorelines present an ecological and economic alternative that is viable for low-erosional settings in Choctawhatchee Bay.
Benefits of Living Shorelines
- Create a natural buffer to reduce erosion.
- Sustain natural coastal processes and shoreline dynamics.
- Maintain land-to-water access for property owners, as well as aquatic and terrestrial organisms
- Trap, retain and cycle stormwater runoff and pollutants.
- More cost efficient than structural stabilization in low-energy environments.
Living Shoreline Initiative in Choctawhatchee Bay
By joining with like-minded stakeholders (see partner list) to promote living shoreline options in Choctawhatchee Bay, CBA has leveraged grant money, in-kind services and good, old-fashioned volunteer labor to restore estuarine habitat.
CBA’s Restoration Program and Living Shoreline Initiative for Choctawhatchee Bay has completed five oyster reefs throughout Okaloosa and Walton Counties. The locations are at both public County or City land as well as individual private homeowner property. They are located along the shore within Fort Walton Beach, Niceville, Destin and Santa Rosa Beach. You can visit our living shoreline projects at Mattie Kelly Park Fishing Pier in Destin and at Cessna Park in Walton County.
Funding partners include the City of Destin, Walton County, the Northwest Florida Water Management District (NWFWMD), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) through the Shell Marine Habitat Grant and the Gulf of Mexico Foundation.
Volunteers for the reef construction have included folks from the Panhandle Flyfishers, Choctawhatchee Audubon Society, Rotary Club (Fort Walton Beach), U.S. Air Force, Leadership Walton and folks like YOU! CBA has also expanded its volunteer base recently--volunteers are not just locals any more. Click here to read our article about Alternative Break options that brought students from over 50 colleges across the country to help restore critical habitat in Choctawhatchee Bay!
If you missed these past volunteer events – don’t worry. There will plenty more Living Shoreline volunteer opportunities this coming year. CBA has received funding this year to building additional Living Shorelines in Choctawhatchee Bay and the Coastal Dune Lakes. Check out our events page for the next oyster building events and watch your emails for Alliance Updates that announce volunteer opportunities. If you want to be added to our volunteer distribution list—please send your contact information toCBA@nwfsc.edu.