Armoring shorelines with bulkheads has long been the method most often used in protecting waterfront properties. They do prevent progressive inward erosion of the property they protect but can also have other undesirable consequences. Those include increased erosion of the shoreline at the edges of the armoring, altering flow of the natural of material along the shoreline and erosion of the beach from waves reflected off the bulkhead. The altered flow of material can negatively affect wildlife on the shoreline. And, beach erosion can sometimes drop the level of the beach to the point that it is always covered by water, even at low tides, making the beach unusable.
More recently, a new approach has emerged call soft shore. It is an engineered approach to controlling erosion that mimics nature. It involves adding sand and gravel to absorb wave energy, anchoring driftwood and large boulders to provide stability and planting native plants to provide habitat and hold the beach in place. This approach provides a more natural look, gives easier access to the beach and provides wildlife habitat.
Shore Friendly is a program of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to provide property owners with information that will help them manage their shoreline properties with the environment in mind, including soft shore measures.
Shore Friendly Kitsap is a new program to assist Kitsap County waterfront homeowners who currently have a bulkhead and are interested in voluntarily removing all or part of it and possibly replacing it with soft shore stabilization. Shore Friendly offers cost-share incentives, free site visits to discuss feasibility and assistance in the permitting process.