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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.
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).