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New living shorelines nationwide permit proposed

By: Niki Pace / Published: Jun 15,  2016

On June 1, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) released its list of proposed nationwide permits, including a new permit for living shorelines. Every five years, the USACE reauthorizes nationwide permits for wetland activity under § 404 of the Clean Water Act. This reauthorization period is an opportunity to update, revise or modify existing permits. It is also a time to create new permits.

“Proposed NWP B. Living Shorelines” would create a nationwide permit specific to the construction and maintenance of living shoreline projects where those projects have minimal environmental impacts. Though living shoreline projects occasionally fall within Nationwide Permit 13 for bank stabilization or Nationwide Permit 27 for aquatic habitat restoration, the projects often require more time-consuming individual permits under the existing USACE permitting framework.

In the proposed new permit, the USACE defines living shorelines broadly to encompass a “range of shoreline stabilization techniques along estuarine coasts, bays, sheltered coastlines, and tributaries.” The USACE also recognizes the environmental benefits that living shorelines provide, such as maintaining the natural land-water interface while providing shoreline stabilization, ecosystem services and storm attenuation.

This coir log at the Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in Mississippi is part of a living shorelines project. It protects the shoreline without blocking the connection between the land and water.
This coir log at the Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in Mississippi is part of a living shorelines project. It protects the shoreline without blocking the connection between the land and water.

Through this permit, the USACE seeks to create an efficient mechanism to permit living shorelines at the federal level. However, projects will still need to comply with applicable state and local permitting requirements as well.

The USACE is soliciting public comment on the proposed nationwide permits now through August 1. For detailed information, please visit https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2016/06/01/2016-12083/proposal-to-reissue-and-modify-nationwide-permits.

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