Because of the many problems with Maintaining Seawalls and Other Structures, there has been a shift in recent years toward non-structural shore stabilization techniques. Non-structural shore protection measures generally seek to enhance the natural ability of shorelines to absorb and dissipate storm energy without interfering with natural beach, dune, and bank processes.
For an overview table of shore protection options in Massachusetts, see the Massachusetts Coastal Hazards Commission’s final report—Preparing for the Storm: Recommendations for Management of Risk from Coastal Hazards in Massachusetts (Appendix C).
In addition, CZM has produced a Coastal Landscaping website, which provides information on storm-damage prevention and other benefits of appropriate landscaping approaches, along with detailed information on how to effectively landscape coastal banks, beaches, and dunes.
Some non-structural shore protection techniques for your community to consider include:
- Renourishing beaches and dunes. See the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection’s (MassDEP) best management guidance file size 2MB and technical attachments file size 1MB .
- Stabilizing dunes with fences and vegetation. (This approach may be prohibited in endangered species habitat. For more information see the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management’s [CZM] Barrier Beach Management in Massachusetts web page and consult the MassWildlife Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program). For detailed information on techniques, see the University of Massachusetts (UMass) Extension’s brochure Selection and Maintenance of Plant Materials for Coastal Landscapes for ideas on which plants might be most appropriate. Be sure to avoid invasive species, which may create their own problems. Check to see if a plant is potentially invasive at the Invasive Plant Atlas of New England web page.
- Protecting, nourishing, or constructing dunes. See CZM’s Barrier Beach Management in Massachusetts web page and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection's Guide to Best Management Practices for Projects in Massachusetts file size 2MB and the guide's technical attachments file size 1MB . Also see CZM's Coastal Landscaping website for information on dune stabilization.
- Re-vegetating/stabilizing shorelines and/or riparian (river) corridors with native plants. See CZM's Coastal Landscaping website and UMass Extension’s brochure Selection and Maintenance of Plant Materials for Coastal Landscapes.
- Creating or restoring wetlands. See the Massachusetts Division of Ecological Restoration website.
- Prohibiting or more stringently restricting the infill of wetlands. Your community may wish to adopt a local wetlands bylaw or ordinance to do this. See the Massachusetts Association of Conservation Commission’s model wetlands bylaw/ordinance.