Protect your shores and the environment
BILOXI, Miss. -- Most folks dream of owning a piece of shoreline property on a river, a lake or the Gulf Coast. There is something about looking out over the water that is hard to describe.
Additionally, recreational opportunities like fishing aren’t bad either.
If you’re fortunate enough to own a piece of shoreline property, the last thing you want to happen is for it to erode.
This fear of losing shoreline combined with an increase of shoreline stressors, such as powerful boat wakes, has led to the hardening of many shorelines throughout the state. Typical types of hardened shorelines are bulkheads and seawalls.
For example, more than 62% of all the privately owned parcels of land along the shores of Back Bay on the coast are already hardened.
While these structures do a good job of reducing erosion and are necessary in some higher energy situations, they are considered harmful for the environment.
There are many ways they cause harm. For one, they limit the exchange between the shoreline and water that many fish and wildlife rely on for habitat and nutrition. Another is that armored shorelines typically lead to a reduction of buffer vegetation that is critical for limiting erosion and intercepting and filtering out runoff pollution before it enters the water.
As an alternative to shoreline hardening, living shoreline projects reduce or reverse erosion and are good for the environment. Additionally, these projects are typically cheaper and longer lasting than hardened shorelines. The types and shapes of living shoreline projects vary according to the specific location and desires of the property owner, but all of them involve conserving or restoring native shoreline vegetation.
This vegetation plays a critical role in maintaining the health of waterbodies, but it also provides other benefits that are at the core of why some people purchase shoreline property: nature and wildlife.
Private landowners are by far the largest group of shoreline property owners. Therefore, they have the collective power to improve health for themselves, fish, wildlife and most waterbodies across Mississippi.
A simple decision of choosing a more natural shoreline management option over a hardened shoreline can lead to big environmental changes.
If you are interested in learning more about shoreline management, feel free to contact me, the director of coastal and marine Extension with the Mississippi State University Extension Service and coastal ecology specialist with the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 228-546-1025.
Editor’s Note: Extension Outdoors is a column authored by several different experts in the Mississippi State University Extension Service.