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Scientific Investigations Report 2010–5254

Puget Sound Shorelines and the Impacts of Armoring— Proceedings of a State of the Science Workshop, May 2009

Edited by Hugh Shipman, Washington State Department of Ecology; Megan N. Dethier, University of Washington; Guy Gelfenbaum, U.S. Geological Survey; Kurt L. Fresh, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; and Richard S. Dinicola, U.S. Geological Survey

Thumbnail of and link to report PDF (17.6 MB)Introduction

The widespread extent and continued construction of seawalls and bulkheads on Puget Sound’s beaches has emerged as a significant issue in shoreline management and coastal restoration in the region. Concerns about the impacts of shoreline armoring and managing the potential risks to coastal property are in many ways similar to those in other places, but Puget Sound also poses unique challenges related to its sheltered setting, glacially formed geology, rich estuarine ecology, and historical development pattern.

The effects of armoring on shorelines are complex, involving both physical and biological science and requiring consideration of the cumulative impacts of small-scale activities over large scales of space and time. In addition, the issue is controversial, as it often places strongly held private interests in protecting shoreline property against broad public mandates to preserve shorelines for public uses and to protect environmental resources. Communities making difficult decisions about regulating shoreline activities and prioritizing restoration projects need to be informed by the best science available.

To address these issues, a scientific workshop was convened in May 2009, specifically to bring local and national experts together to review the state of the science regarding the physical and biological impacts of armoring on sheltered shorelines such as those of Puget Sound.

First posted March 1, 2011

For additional information contact:
Guy Gelfenbaum
U.S. Geological Survey
Menlo Park, CA 94025

Part or all of this report is presented in Portable Document Format (PDF); the latest version of Adobe Reader or similar software is required to view it. Download the latest version of Adobe Reader, free of charge.

Suggested citation:

Shipman, H., Dethier, M.N., Gelfenbaum, G., Fresh, K.L., and Dinicola, R.S., eds., 2010, Puget Sound Shorelines and the Impacts of Armoring—Proceedings of a State of the Science Workshop, May 2009: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2010–5254, 262 p.


Puget Sound Shoreline Armoring: State of the Science Workshop. By Hugh Shipman, Guy Gelfenbaum, Megan N. Dethier, and Kurt L. Fresh (PDF 200 KB)

Puget Sound Setting and Context

An Environmental and Historical Overview of the Puget Sound Ecosystem. By Timothy Quinn (PDF 525 KB)

The Geomorphic Setting of Puget Sound: Implications for Shoreline Erosion and the Impacts of Erosion Control Structures. By Hugh Shipman (PDF 635 KB)

Overview of the Ecology of Puget Sound Beaches. By Megan N. Dethier (PDF 165 KB)

Shoreline Development on Puget Sound. By Doug Myers (PDF 375 KB)

Regulating Shoreline Armoring in Puget Sound. By Randy Carman, Kathy Taylor, and Peter Skowlund (PDF 180 KB)

National Perspective and Human Dimensions

Mitigating the Effects of Bulkheads on the Bay Shore of Fire Island National Seashore. By Karl F. Nordstrom, Nancy L. Jackson, and Patricia Rafferty (PDF 335 KB)

Shoreline Armoring Impacts and Management along the Shores of Massachusetts and Kauai, Hawaii. By James F. O’Connell (PDF 880 KB)

The Effects of Armoring Shorelines—The California Experience. By Gary B. Griggs (PDF 645 KB)

A Report from the National Research Council: Mitigating Shore Erosion Along Sheltered Coasts. By Susan Roberts (PDF 240 KB)

Developing Alternative Shoreline Armoring Strategies: the Living Shoreline Approach in North Carolina. By C.A. Currin, W.S. Chappell, and A. Deaton (PDF 430 KB)

Human Dimensions of Nearshore Restoration and Shoreline Armoring, with Application to Puget Sound. By Thomas M. Leschine (PDF 220 KB)

Coastal Geologic and Oceanographic Processes

“Design with Nature” Strategies for Shore Protection: The Construction of a Cobble Berm and Artificial Dune in an Oregon State Park. By Paul D. Komar and Jonathan C. Allan (PDF 775 KB)

Gravel Transport and Morphological Response on a Supply-Limited Beach, Point White, Bainbridge Island. By Phil Osborne, Greg Curtiss, and Jessica Côté (PDF 835 KB)

Assessing Littoral Sediment Supply (Feeder Bluffs) and Beach Condition in King and Southern Snohomish Counties, Puget Sound, Washington. By Jim Johannessen (PDF 2 MB)

Beach Processes and Ecological Response

Biological Effects of Shoreline Armoring in Puget Sound: Past Studies and Future Directions for Science. By Casimir A. Rice (PDF 140 KB)

Fish and Invertebrate Response to Shoreline Armoring and Restoration in Puget Sound. By Jason D. Toft, Jeffery R. Cordell, Sarah M. Heerhartz, Elizabeth A. Armbrust, and Charles A. Simenstad (PDF 440 KB)

Anticipated Effects of Sea Level Rise in Puget Sound on Two Beach-Spawning Fishes. By Kirk L. Krueger, Kenneth B. Pierce, Jr., Timothy Quinn, and Daniel E. Penttila (PDF 380 KB)

Impacts of Shoreline Armoring on Sediment Dynamics. By Peter Ruggiero (PDF 450 KB)

Ecological Effects of Coastal Armoring: A Summary of Recent Results for Exposed Sandy Beaches in Southern California. By Jenifer E. Dugan and David M. Hubbard (PDF 180 KB)

Armoring of Estuarine Shorelines and Implications for Horseshoe Crabs on Developed Shorelines in Delaware Bay. By Nancy L. Jackson, Karl F. Nordstrom, and David R. Smith (PDF 250 KB)

Management Needs

Developing a Guidance Document for Puget Sound Marine Shorelines. By Bob Barnard (PDF 415 KB)

Considerations for Puget Sound Restoration Programs That Restore Beach Ecosystems. By Paul R. Cereghino (PDF 170 KB)

Summary of Discussions from Breakout Groups. By Megan N. Dethier, Guy Gelfenbaum, and Charles A. Simenstad

Appendix A. Conference Attendees (PDF 1 KB)

Appendix B. Puget Sound Shoreline Field Trip: Kitsap County and Bainbridge Island. By Hugh Shipman (PDF 1.7 MB)

Appendix C. Review of Shoreline Armoring Literature. By Jill M. Coyle and Megan N. Dethier (PDF 360 KB)

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