Document Type



Virginia Institute of Marine Science

VIMS Department/Program

Center for Coastal Resources Management (CCRM)

Publication Date



Shoreline habitats and processes are impacted by the decisions we make about managing coastal development and shorelines. Shoreline Management is making choices to address the desire to protect upland property from erosion or develop property balanced with the benefits and uses of natural and nature-based shoreline features and shoreline habitat restoration. This requires a weighing of the private benefits and cots of management actions and the benefits and costs to public held common resources, also known as the public trust. The natural features along our shorelines -tidal wetlands, beaches and dunes, and riparian buffers, are economically and ecologically valuable. They provide food, shelter, and breeding grounds for a variety of marine animals; recreational and commercial opportunities; water quality services; and can serve as significant protection against coastal storms by dissipating wave energy and absorbing flood waters.

Shoreline change can be both slow and chronic–from daily tides for example, or sudden and dramatic–like after a hurricane or Nor-Easter. The natural process of erosion can result in loss of upland property with the distribution of sediment and nutrients into our waters, while also providing material to support wetland and beach habitats.There are two primary reasons for the establishment of legal programs to preserve and manage shoreline resources:

1.Shoreline features provide services valued by society including water quality, erosion control, flood buffering, primary production in support of the estuarine food web, recreational opportunities, and aesthetics.

2.Tidal wetlands, beaches and dunes have been adversely impacted by development with significant losses.


doi: 10.25773/9hns-mn88


Shoreline management, Shore protection

Publication Statement

A report to the Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program Department of Environmental Quality and NOAA


This project, Task # 92.01 was funded, in part, bythe Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program led bytheVirginiaDepartment of Environmental Quality through Grant #NA18NOS4190152)of the U.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, under the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972, as amended.



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