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StormSmart Properties

Find fact sheets for property owners on reducing coastal erosion and storm damage, developed by the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM) as part of StormSmart Coasts.

StormSmart Properties fact sheets—developed by CZM as part of the StormSmart Coasts Program—give coastal property owners important information on a range of measures that can effectively reduce erosion and storm damage while minimizing impacts to shoreline systems. This information is intended to help property owners work with consultants and other design professionals to select the best option or combination of options for their circumstances.

Fact Sheet Index

Fact sheets are currently available on the techniques listed below.

  • Fact Sheet 1: Artificial Dunes and Dune Nourishment - Sand, cobble, or other sediment (of appropriate size) is brought in from offsite to build a new dune (i.e., mound of sediment) or add to an existing dune to protect inland areas from erosion and flooding. Dune projects are appropriate for almost any area with sufficient space to maintain some dry beach at high tide.
  • Fact Sheet 2: Controlling Overland Runoff to Reduce Coastal Erosion - Runoff is water from rainfall, snowmelt, irrigation, and other sources that flows over the ground surface where it can cause erosion. Runoff flowing over a coastal bank, dune, or beach can exacerbate other coastal erosion problems. Runoff-control methods reduce the quantity and speed of water flow and change its direction to reduce erosion.
  • Fact Sheet 3: Planting Vegetation to Reduce Erosion and Storm Damage - Plants can help control erosion by stabilizing soil and sediments with their roots, breaking the impact of raindrops and wave splash, and trapping sand to build dunes. Vegetation projects are appropriate for virtually any dune or bank with exposed sand or other sediments (although their effectiveness as a stand-alone option can be limited in locations regularly inundated or overwashed by tides and waves).
  • Fact Sheet 4: Bioengineering/Coir Rolls on Coastal Banks - Coastal bioengineering projects use a combination of deep-rooted plants and erosion-control products made of natural, biodegradable materials, such as coir rolls. Coir rolls are long, cylindrical rolls of mesh packed with coir fibers (i.e., coconut husk fibers). They can be stitched together to provide a continuous physical barrier that helps reduce erosion of exposed sediments on a bank. Coir rolls can be used on both sheltered and some exposed sites where there is dry beach at high tide, but may require more frequent maintenance in exposed conditions.
  • Fact Sheet 5: Bioengineering/Natural Fiber Blankets on Coastal Banks - These bioengineering projects combine the use of erosion-control plants with mats made of natural fibers (such as straw and coconut husk) that help reduce erosion of exposed sediments from wind, waves, and overland runoff. These blankets can be installed on almost any coastal bank but are most effective where the toe of the bank is not constantly subject to erosion from tides and waves.
  • Fact Sheet 6: Sand Fencing - Sand fencing helps capture sand to build dunes. It is typically made of thin, wooden slats that are connected with twisted wire to wooden or metal stakes. Because of its relatively low cost and minor impacts, sand fencing is appropriate at almost any site not reached by daily high tides and waves from minor storms, except areas with endangered or threatened shorebird or turtle nesting habitat.
  • Fact Sheet 7: Repair and Reconstruction of Seawalls and Revetments - Recommended design practices for seawalls and revetments have advanced significantly over the last 50 years. Any repair or reconstruction project for seawalls and revetments—whether minor repairs or complete reconstruction—should therefore include design improvements based on the best available techniques to reduce impacts, improve structure longevity, and minimize maintenance costs.
  • Cost Comparison Chart - See Comparison Chart - Relative Costs of Shoreline Stabilization Options (PDF, 99 KB) for information on relative costs for each of these techniques.
  • Future Fact Sheets - Additional options will be added to this website over time, such as:
    • Beach nourishment
    • Elevating and relocating buildings
    • Sand-filled envelopes
    • Salt marsh creation and restoration on coastal beaches
    • Design standards for new revetments, seawalls, and groins


In addition to CZM, the following agencies and organizations reviewed and assisted in the development of the StormSmart Properties fact sheets and provided input:

  • Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation
  • Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection
  • Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program
  • Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries
  • Woods Hole Sea Grant

CZM would also like to thank the members of the StormSmart Properties Technical Advisory Committee (TAC)—coastal geologists, coastal engineers, and other environmental consultants with extensive local experience with bioengineering, dune restoration, coastal engineering structures, and other coastal erosion management techniques that minimize adverse effects on shorelines—who provided their expertise and experience in the review of these materials. These TAC members are:

  • Leslie Fields, Woods Hole Group
  • Michael Marcus, New England Environmental, Inc.
  • John Ramsey, P.E., Applied Coastal Research & Engineering, Inc.
  • Lindsay Strode, Cape Organics
  • Peter Sullivan, P.E., Sullivan Engineering Inc.
  • Seth Wilkinson, Wilkinson Ecological Design

Detailed Overview of StormSmart Properties Fact Sheets

The coast is a very dynamic environment and coastal shorelines—especially beaches, dunes, and banks—change constantly in response to wind, waves, tides, and other factors such as seasonal variation, sea level rise, and human alterations to the shoreline system. Consequently, many coastal properties are at risk from storm damage, erosion, and flooding. Inappropriate shoreline stabilization methods can actually do more harm than good by exacerbating beach erosion, damaging neighboring properties, impacting marine habitats, and diminishing the capacity of beaches, dunes, and other natural landforms to protect inland areas from storm damage and flooding. StormSmart Properties—part of CZM's StormSmart Coasts Program—provides coastal property owners with important information on a range of shoreline stabilization techniques that can effectively reduce erosion and storm damage while minimizing impacts to shoreline systems. This information is intended to help property owners work with consultants and other design professionals to select the best option for their circumstances.

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