Natural Shorelines

Shoreline Restoration

Restoring our shorelines so people and nature can thrive.

Friends improves nearshore habitat conditions for fish, wildlife and people. Healthy ecosystems make a healthy food chain — and it starts with habitat. Working with interested private and public landowners, Friends restores shoreline properties impacted by unnecessary shoreline modifications.

Restoring Natural Shoreline Processes

Many believe that seawalls and bulkheads are the best ways to combat erosion and rising sea levels. However, shoreline armoring can actually exacerbate erosion. It also can reduce or eliminate forage fish spawning habitat by directly covering the habitat or starving the beach of the sand and gravel required to successfully incubate eggs. Smaller numbers of fish and invertebrates negatively impact species like salmon and orcas.

In San Juan County, there are many shoreline structures that are outdated or unnecessary and can be removed or redesigned to better protect property and also provide direct benefits for fish, wildlife and people. Methods for protecting shoreline property and protecting or restoring nearshore habitat include:

Reconnecting Coastal Wetlands

Coastal wetlands are unique and critical habitats for the San Juans. Removing barriers to restore the connectivity between the uplands and the sea improves water quality, fish passage, the transfer of nutrients and sediments, and can reduce the risk of flooding. Restoration actions include removal of fill tide gates or culverts or the installation of large open bottom culverts or short span bridges. 

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After

Beach Nourishment

Nourishment projects often involve removing large rocks, then adding smaller sediment. Adding appropriately sized sands and gravels back to beaches can restore the natural slope and substrate, resulting in a more aesthetically pleasing and accessible beach that also benefits fish and wildlife.

Before

After

“As we were walking along our beach on July 31 at 9:30 PM, to our surprise, excitement, and amazement, all of the effort involved with this project came to fruition as the surf smelt returned to spawn and now had use of the additional beach. As the surf smelt were spawning, two salmon were also observed foraging on the surf smelt which is all part of this marine environment life cycle! We have such a feeling of fulfillment and gratification.”

Gary & Patty Bergren

Derelict Structure Removal

Many unnecessary, degraded or outdated modifications exist along local shorelines including legacy structures and creosote pilings that are impeding healthy shoreline functions. Debris removal reduces known sources of toxic materials into water and sediments and recovers shallow water and beach habitat for fish, shellfish and people.

Before

After

friendsShoreline Restoration