So, once upon a time, there was a $4.5 million study entitled: “Impacts of shoreline hardening and watershed land use on nearshore habitats”
It was NOAA-funded, 7 year SERC-led project with 19 Places studied, by 8 Institutions: SERC, USGS, Utah State, MD DNR, UMCES, VIMS, UDE, PSU), and published in 2015.
The main findings from NOAA project: The combined effects of shoreline hardening and watershed Nutrient discharges can degrade nearshore habitats for submerged vegetation, water birds, fish, crabs, benthic invertebrates, and coastal wetland plants.
Sounds right and the sheer volume of evidence supporting the conclusions in the detailed report (link follows) is impressive.
But, so what?
We still keep on hardening shorelines at the same rates, instead of using Living Shorelines as the solution.
Chief victims will continue to be water quality, underwater plants, water birds, fish, crabs, bottom dwellers and marsh grasses. But ultimately, we victimize ourselves by preventing the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries from being what they could be by frustrating nature’s efforts to get there right at our very shoreline.
We could love the Bay back to much higher levels of water quality and life than now if we just choose to at the individual level on up through government policy. The latter takes time and [precious] consensus, but the former is in our personal control. We can make the right just as easily as doing the same old [wrong] choices.
There are barriers: lack of education about best practices, marine contractors stuck in the same old ruts, needs for better solutions, and of course, investment. However, to paraphrase the old USCG motto, we can save marine lives and our own properties. So, waterfront property owners, let’s get started!