Preventing Puget Sound shoreline erosion

Erosion occurs naturally on most of Puget Sound’s shoreline, shaping coastlines and creating beaches. The typical response to erosion has been the construction of bulkheads and seawalls — the armoring of the shoreline. When designed and sited correctly, such measures can help reduce risks from erosion and storms, but they also impact neighboring properties and harm shoreline ecology. Over time, the construction of these structures can result in the loss of beaches and critical habitats.

We provide information and assistance associated with coastal erosion and shoreline armoring by:

  • Working with local governments to develop regulations that encourage good practices.
  • Educating professionals and property owners about coastal processes and the hazards of building on the shoreline.
  • Collaborating with other agencies and organizations to improve the technical and scientific information on which good decisions are based.

A river showing the armored bank with large rocks protecting the shore.

What is shoreline armoring?

Shoreline armoring — the construction of bulkheads, seawalls, and revetments — is a widespread practice on coastlines around the world. When designed correctly, these types of structures can reduce erosion and protect upland development from storms and landslides. But at the same time, they have serious consequences for coastal ecosystems and even the long-term preservation of beaches. This is as true on Puget Sound as it is elsewhere, although the details differ because our geology and our ecology are unique.

Protecting shorelines

We provide information and assistance on a wide range of shoreline topics related to our beaches and to shoreline stabilization practices. This includes targeted guidance for local governments as well as more general information useful to any shoreline property owner. We collaborate with other agencies to develop technical guidance, provide educational materials, and contribute to scientific research.

Understanding shoreline processes Shoreline planning Soft Shorelines Feeder bluffs and coastal landslides Puget Sound shoreline science Sea level rise