Futurewire Newsletter

 

Futurewise Update: Our Innovative Work on Shoreline Protections in Puget Sound

by Heather Trim

Shorelines of the Salish Sea basin are fragile narrow ribbons that support our marine ecosystem in vital ways, from serving as the nursery areas for many aquatic species, to being the migration corridor for outgoing juvenile salmon and the sources of land-based nourishment to the water. Futurewise has been working on several related projects to help protect these shorelines. One project is the creation of a set of 5 practical guides related to implementing shoreline regulations and protections. The first guide is about incentives. We have also been working on assessing shoreline property owner characteristics in order to prepare for a social marketing campaign to incentivize shoreline armor removal.

Importance of incentives
In 1972, citizens in Washington State passed a referendum which adopted the Shoreline Management Act. The Act is designed to guide the management and use of shorelines of the state while protecting its natural resources and allowing for responsible development and public access. Under the Act, cities and counties in Washington are required to adopt, update and implement local Shoreline Master Programs (SMPs), which are land use policies and regulations designed to manage shoreline use.

One essential element in facilitating the transition towards less environmentally damaging shoreline activities and towards improving already degraded shoreline areas is a coherent and favorable framework for influencing property owners to recognize and value environmental shoreline stewardship. Within such a framework, it is important that governments and property owners act in a coherent way while seeking to improve shoreline conditions and rewarding environmental stewardship. Incentives can be used to preserve natural areas and motivate stewardship and can be especially helpful to increase the amount of shoreline restoration. Many existing restoration efforts already incorporate the use of incentives, and these techniques and others could be leveraged to significantly increase the acreage of preserved and restored areas within local jurisdictions.

Creating an Incentives Guide and Toolkit
To assist and inform the use of incentives for stewardship, better knowledge on incentives is required and a reliable basis for assessing performance needs to be developed. With this in mind Futurewise, with funding support from the Puget Sound Marine and Nearshore Grant program stewarded by Washington State Department of Natural Resources and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, developed a practical guide and incentives toolkit to assist with and to increase the use of incentives in protecting and restoring shoreline ecosystems.

The approach in developing the guide and toolkit has been a combination of literature review and expert consultation through interviews. The process identified a variety of incentives in use in Washington State, other areas of the US, or internationally. The data on incentives and views from literature were then enriched through Puget Sound stakeholder interviews with local planners and state and federal agency staff. Twenty-nine funding tools and incentives are presented in the toolkit. Funding tools include taxes and the creation of special districts, and financial incentives range from tax credits to low interest loans. Non-financial incentives include education and technical assistance as well as permit streamlining.

The Incentives Guide and Toolkit will be published on Futurewise’s web page in August. The early drafts were circulated for peer review and sparked interest by fellow stakeholders. One outcome has been that Futurewise has been engaged to help conduct a stakeholder process under the leadership of the Snohomish County MRC to investigate and narrow down potential incentives to use in Snohomish County to incentivize shoreline armor removal. The end product will be a report that outlines the steps to potentially pilot 2-3 incentives.

Shore Friendly social marketing campaign
The Puget Sound Marine and Nearshore Grant Program also funded a new project to develop a social marketing framework and strategies for voluntary removal of hard armor, avoidance of armor, and installation of soft shore protection for residential parcels. Futurewise, in partnership with Colehour + Cohen, Applied Research Northwest, Social Marketing Services, and Coastal Geologic Services conducted the background research and developed the social marketing campaign. The social marketing campaign is called Shore Friendly and components are planned to be piloted in 2014-2016 with funding from the grant program.

Shoreline parcel characteristics
The initial phases of the project included assessment of shoreline properties from a geomorphologic/ecological perspective in order to determine which parcels are the highest priority for the campaign. A GIS assessment of all residential marine parcels in Puget Sound identified shoreform, mapped habitats (such as forage fish spawning), and presence/absence of armor. Of the 45,276 residential shoreline parcels in the marine areas of Puget Sound, 48% have existing armor. In addition, 26% of residential shoreline parcels were identified as having forage fish spawning areas; of these 58% are armored. About 6,000 parcels have armored feeder bluffs; of these, 2,000 parcels also include forage fish spawning; 843 of these parcels (representing 32 miles of shoreline) do not have a home present.

Shoreline parcel owner characteristics
In addition, the characteristics of the owners of shoreline parcels were assessed in order to create a profile that could aid in strategic approaches for the social marketing campaign. It was determined that 39.5% of all parcels are owner occupied; about 46% of parcels with homes are owner occupied. Beyond the 39.5% of owner-occupied parcels, 22% of shoreline parcels are owned by residents who reside elsewhere in the county, 30% live in a different county, 8% live out of state and 1% live outside the US. The largest percentage of shoreline residential parcels are owned by persons in the 60-69 age range, followed by those in the 70-79 age range.

Motivators, barriers and strategic approach
Qualitative interviews followed by a quantitative survey distributed to a cross section of shoreline property owners drilled down into barriers and motivations tied to target behaviors. The highest barriers were concern with erosion, expense for armor removal and/or installation of soft shore protection, and complicated nature of regulatory and permitting process to remove armor.

The Shore Friendly campaign will create a consistent Puget Sound-wide look and feel for shoreline armor reduction efforts and provide a rallying point for localized efforts. The Shore Friendly campaign is designed to be implemented independently at the local level by jurisdictions and other influencer organizations throughout Puget Sound. Strategies include free onsite erosion assessment, Shore Friendly Ambassadors, Shore Friendly Certification Program for coastal professionals including contractors, Shore Friendly Workshops for homeowners as well as for real estate brokers, and Shore Friendly New Homeowner Visits/Packets, as well as streamlined permitting and enhanced financial incentives.

Moving forward
These two major projects are designed to tackle the difficult challenge of reducing the amount of shoreline armor in Puget Sound as well as incentivize other “green” shoreline features. These voluntary efforts will suppliment the regulatory programs that are being implemented through updates Shoreline Master Programs. Combined these programs will ensure that we start to see a slowing down and then a reversal in the trend of increasing shoreline armor in Puget Sound.

About the Author:
Heather Trim is the Science & Policy Director at Futurewise.

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Combined these programs will ensure that we start to see a slowing down and Cheap Computer Speakersthen a reversal in the trend of increasing shoreline armor in Puget Sound.

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