Encouraging Living Shorelines over Shoreline Armoring: Insights from Property Owners Choices in the Chesapeake Bay

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This study uses data from shoreline modification permit applications in Gloucester County, Virginia to provide insights into how coastal managers can encourage the use of living shorelines over shoreline armoring. The data show that shorelines are more likely to be modified on properties with high neighboring property values and properties threatened by hurricane storm surge and high wave energy, while modifications are less likely in conservation areas and areas with high percentages of natural cover and agricultural use. Compared to armoring, living shorelines are more likely in FEMA Special Flood Hazard Areas and following recent flooding experiences but are less likely to be installed following an FEMA disaster declaration. Property owners are also significantly more likely to install a specific modification if their neighbors have already installed that modification. Based on these results, coastal managers may be able to increase the effectiveness of interventions to reduce shoreline modification by targeting unmodified high value properties in residential areas with high wave energy. To encourage property owners to install living shorelines over armoring, the results suggest that coastal managers should target properties with armored neighbors or properties in business zones and should develop interventions directly following significant storm events.


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