Presentation Title

Ecosystem services of beaches that are affected by armoring, and how this relates to priorities for bulkhead removal

Session Title

Bulkhead Removal - Putting goals into practice

Conference Track

Shorelines

Conference Name

Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference (2016 : Vancouver, B.C.)

Contributing Repository

Digital content made available by University Archives, Heritage Resources, Western Libraries, Western Washington University.

Type of Presentation

Oral

Abstract

Shoreline armoring can impact a variety of “goods and services” provided by beaches and nearshore ecosystems of the Salish Sea. Shoreline managers struggle to balance genuine need for armoring to protect infrastructure versus unacceptable losses of ecosystem services – whether these be in marshes, sand dunes, or beaches. Changes caused by armoring may not be apparent to the public because they may be very gradual or ‘invisible’ below the ocean surface, whereas the benefits of armoring in terms of protection of homes are obvious. These tradeoffs and the uncertainties inherent in quantifying impacts mean that policy changes are readily resisted. We argue that we now know enough about negative consequences of shoreline armoring in a variety of physical environments that we can make science-based recommendations for prioritizing restoration actions. All armoring prevents shoreline translation and reduces marine-terrestrial connectivity to some extent, but our recommendations focus on two concrete issues: elevation of armoring, and locations critical for sediment supply. Armoring that is emplaced relatively low on the shore, and thus encroaches on the beach and actually covers some habitat types, has the potential to affect a wide variety of ecosystem services from forage fish spawning to beach recreation. Removing armoring from feeder bluffs is clearly another restoration target, because sources of sediment are essential to the maintenance of beaches and all their functions. In addition, our data suggest there is a cumulative effect of emplacing more armoring on already-altered shorelines; this effect is manifested in changes in grain size distributions, which indirectly affect many functions of beaches. We summarize what we have learned about armoring impacts in the Salish Sea and discuss the links to ecosystem goods and services that the public can relate to; emphasizing these linkages may make it more palatable to undertake large restoration projects or tighten armoring restrictions.

Rights

This resource is displayed for educational purposes only and may be subject to U.S. and international copyright laws. For more information about rights or obtaining copies of this resource, please contact University Archives, Heritage Resources, Western Libraries, Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA 98225-9103, USA (360-650-7534; heritage.resources@wwu.edu) and refer to the collection name and identifier. Any materials cited must be attributed to the Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference Records, University Archives, Heritage Resources, Western Libraries, Western Washington University.

Language

English

Format

application/pdf

Type

Text

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Ecosystem services of beaches that are affected by armoring, and how this relates to priorities for bulkhead removal

2016SSEC

Shoreline armoring can impact a variety of “goods and services” provided by beaches and nearshore ecosystems of the Salish Sea. Shoreline managers struggle to balance genuine need for armoring to protect infrastructure versus unacceptable losses of ecosystem services – whether these be in marshes, sand dunes, or beaches. Changes caused by armoring may not be apparent to the public because they may be very gradual or ‘invisible’ below the ocean surface, whereas the benefits of armoring in terms of protection of homes are obvious. These tradeoffs and the uncertainties inherent in quantifying impacts mean that policy changes are readily resisted. We argue that we now know enough about negative consequences of shoreline armoring in a variety of physical environments that we can make science-based recommendations for prioritizing restoration actions. All armoring prevents shoreline translation and reduces marine-terrestrial connectivity to some extent, but our recommendations focus on two concrete issues: elevation of armoring, and locations critical for sediment supply. Armoring that is emplaced relatively low on the shore, and thus encroaches on the beach and actually covers some habitat types, has the potential to affect a wide variety of ecosystem services from forage fish spawning to beach recreation. Removing armoring from feeder bluffs is clearly another restoration target, because sources of sediment are essential to the maintenance of beaches and all their functions. In addition, our data suggest there is a cumulative effect of emplacing more armoring on already-altered shorelines; this effect is manifested in changes in grain size distributions, which indirectly affect many functions of beaches. We summarize what we have learned about armoring impacts in the Salish Sea and discuss the links to ecosystem goods and services that the public can relate to; emphasizing these linkages may make it more palatable to undertake large restoration projects or tighten armoring restrictions.