Suzanne Simon, a
strategic programs manager at the national organization Restore
America’s Estuaries, or RAE, said it began with a “magic wand
unlimited resources, she asked, how can we help promote the use of
A few years ago,
Simon began posing the question to leaders in the restoration and
management community across the United States in one-on-one
discussions about living shorelines. Over the years, Simon had
noticed increasing interest in living shorelines, a sustainable
coastal management method using natural elements, such as marsh
grasses and oyster reefs, to fight erosion, filter water and create
estuarine habitats, and she wanted to know how RAE could help.
heard one request:
person said we want an online, one-stop shop for living shorelines,”
And now that
website, the Living Shoreline Academy, is up and running.
with RAE, the North Carolina Coastal Federation developed the site as
a resource where anyone can learn more about living shorelines, get
training on how to build them and ask questions of experts in the
will unveil the Living Shoreline Academy next week at the national
RAE conference in New Orleans, where Todd Miller, executive director
of the federation, said attendees will have the chance to learn more.
features a question forum, training modules and project databases
targeted to property owners, contractors and policymakers.
shorelines are an alternative to other, hardened management methods,
such as seawalls and bulkheads, which have been shown to cause
erosion farther down the shoreline and to disrupt estuarine
RAE works to
restore and protect bays and estuaries across the country. According
to its website, RAE consists of 10 member organizations, including
the federation, dedicated to protecting 11 estuaries in 16 states.
According to a
cooperative agreement between RAE and the Environmental Protection
Agency, the objective of the Living Shoreline Academy is to increase
coastal wetlands by promoting the understanding of living shoreline
techniques. The EPA is an active partner in the project, providing
feedback on the website and checking in.
has been working two years on the first part of the project,
developing the website. The keys to the Living Shoreline Academy will
be handed over to RAE at the beginning of 2018, and the organization
will work to ensure the website’s long-term sustainability.
Tracy Skrabal, a
coastal scientist for the federation’s Wrightsville Beach office,
said the website is designed to reach any type of person who’s
interested in learning more about living shorelines.
attempting to provide a portal to anyone who wishes to find as much
information about living shorelines as possible,” she said.
showcase the website during a presentation at the five-day conference
and attendees will be able to learn more about the resource at a
While there are
other similar websites out there, Skrabal said the academy’s scope
is what sets it apart. Other websites, which tend to be run by
universities and local governments, focus on small geographic areas.
The academy, she said, is contributed to and can be used by people
across the country.
“There is no
other nationally coordinated effort,” she said.
Simon said the
responsibility of developing the website was given to the federation
because of its skills and experience with living shorelines, which
Skrabal said the federation has been working on since the mid-1990s.
federation has a unique set of talents and experience that made them
great in terms of leading the charge,” Simon said.
website’s features are training modules that teach and quiz the
learner on vocabulary and concepts associated with living shorelines.
Once RAE takes
control of the academy, it will work to keep the website useful and
“We will be
adding content and hopefully building out some of the modules
depending on what is needed on the part of the living shorelines’
broader community, really determining what kind of additional info is
needed, what training is needed, what modules are needed,” Simon
One module is
geared toward helping property owners install living shorelines on
their own properties. A second module covering the design,
construction and permitting of living shorelines targets marine
professionals, contractors and policymakers.
the modules “extremely useful” to people who are new to living
can also view established living shoreline projects from all over the
country, including California, Louisiana and Maryland, in the project
database. Each project has a description, pictures and technical
description, including the installment’s area and materials.
A forum where
people can ask and answer questions about living shorelines was
migrated from the Southern Environmental Law Center’s website to
the academy, adding an interactive function.
people can make the most of the website by browsing the resources
section, which has literature, videos and presentations.
Simon said the
value of the website lies in the ability for people learn from each
other and to contribute to the overall knowledge of living
“By having the
expertise that’s in the community, we’re collectively raising the
knowledge and enthusiasm rather than having people recreate a wheel
in their own state or own region,” she said. “I think there was
some danger of that happening.”
Simon said the
academy welcomes additional input from the public, including
research, literature, projects, examples and contact information.
destruction of Hurricane Matthew, Miller said that it’s more
important now than ever for living shorelines to be implemented.
proved that building seawalls and other hard erosion control
structures to protect waterfront property provides a false sense of
security for waterfront property owners,” he said.
With all the
resources the website offers, Miller said he hopes that the website
becomes a hub for living shoreline activity. Asked about his
long-term goal for the website, Miller’s answer was simple:
the go-to portal for living shorelines.”
article is provided by Coastal Review Online, an online news service
covering North Carolina's coast. For more news, features, and
information about the coast, go to www.coastalreview.org.)