Living Shorelines

A common concern of many Galveston Bay landowners with shoreline property is erosion, and a common response to erosion control is to install a bulkhead. Unfortunately, bulkheads can increase erosion on adjacent unprotected shorelines, are prone to structural failure over time, and cause loss of highly valuable fishery habitat.

“Living shorelines” are attractive shoreline management options that provide erosion control benefits while working with nature to enhance the existing natural shoreline habitat. Living shorelines often allow for natural coastal processes to remain through the strategic placement of plants, stone, sand fill and other structural and organic materials. These structures act as wavebreaks by reducing wave energy and erosion, supporting plant growth and marsh creation. Depending on the location of the property, the wavebreak itself can even become encrusted with oysters and other crustaceans, producing an artificial reef. Living shorelines also result in increased water quality and clarity for the landowner, the bay, and its fish. As an added benefit, the marsh reduces wave energy created by boats and other sources, which reduces erosion on neighboring properties as well.

[genesis_column size=”one-half” position=”first”]Shoreline of Galveston[/genesis_column][genesis_column size=”one-half” position=”second”]Galveston Shoreline[/genesis_column]

Living shorelines protect the shoreline habitats that support our fisheries and coastal economies and provide ecotourism opportunities. Living shorelines are cost efficient compared to bulkheads, sometimes costing up to 50% less than a traditional bulkhead installation. Because living shorelines absorb wave energy from boat wakes and wind, they do not contribute to erosion on neighboring properties along the shoreline as traditional bulkheads can. The Galveston Bay Foundation and its partners offer assistance in creating individually designed living shoreline structures for your unique situation and property, which can support aquatic habitat and protect your shoreline from erosion.

Areas in which we can help:

  • Project design
  • Materials selection
  • Permit applications
  • Construction
  • Plant selection and installation

We can also help you identify whether grant funds may be available for your project, which could help make your project even more cost advantageous over a traditional bulkhead.

For more detailed information about living shorelines, please see our publication titled Living Shorelines: A Natural Approach for Erosion Control (PDF). A summarized tri-fold brochure about Living Shorelines is also available for download. For additional information about living shorelines, please contact Lee Anne Wilde at lwilde@galvbay.org.