The current trend in Mississippi and Alabama is to install hard structures, such as bulkheads, seawalls or rip-rap on the shoreline to protect waterfront coastal property from erosion. Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant supports the use of living shorelines, in many circumstances, instead of bulkheads to control shoreline erosion.
Bulkheads may be the best option for areas with high wave energy. But, in areas with medium or low wave energy, living shorelines can protect against erosion without the negative effects of bulkheads and similar structures. Negative effects of bulkheads can include loss of water access for residents and animals, erosion of nearby properties and elimination of shoreline habitats that existed where the water and land met. Living shorelines use materials, such as living plant material, oyster shells or offshore breakwaters, to protect against erosion.
Through research, education and outreach, MASGC works to discover and share current information about living shorelines. MASGC-funded scientists are evaluating the effectiveness of different types of living shorelines and are creating ways to help people decide which option would work best for them. MASGC outreach team members research rules and regulations related to building living shorelines. They also analyze the cost to install them. And, they raise awareness so more property owners and managers know about the erosion-control options.
MASGC also participates in living shorelines restoration projects with volunteers, teachers and students.