Greetings from the Washington State Department of Ecology! I’m now wrapping up the 6 month mark of my 2 year NOAA Coastal Management Fellowship.
First off, I should probably describe what my project is about: creating guidance to promote “Green Shorelines”. Green Shorelines is an initiative very popular in Puget Sound these days. Due to concerns of shoreline habitat degradation, water quality, public access, and other Puget Sound health issues, Green Shorelines, otherwise known as Alternative Shoreline Armoring, Living Shorelines, or Soft Shorelines, is being promoted along Puget Sound’s marine and freshwater shores. My project is focusing on the shoreline armoring aspect; more specifically, how to implement the removal of bulkheads and seawalls and replace them with either completely natural or those with “soft” and environmentally friendly stabilization techniques.
It has been a whirlwind experience for me and these next few paragraphs describe some of the things I have accomplished during my first 6 months as a fellow:
The first month of the fellowship was spent getting to know the office and familiarizing myself with previous Green Shoreline projects. I then created a plan to network with individuals involved with Green Shorelines projects and gather background information on the needs and barriers to Green Shorelines implementation. For the next three months, I conducted a needs assessment by interviewing experienced individuals from state and local government, shoreline consultants, NOAA, and Washington Sea Grant and discussed with them the issue of Green Shorelines. During this time, I read literature related to Green Shorelines including Puget Sound marine and nearshore literature, Washington Administrative Code related to shoreline armoring, and shoreline stabilization techniques. I have also participated in site visits with Ecology employees, viewed green shoreline sites, and attended public workshops and conferences.
During the last couple of months of 2012, I identified the goals and major long-term outcomes of my project and developed a draft work plan. I then attended a Coastal Training Program class on Project Design and Evaluation and used the skills I learned further refine my project by identifying short- and mid-term outcomes, outputs, and activities suitable for my two year fellowship. I have been in contact with other organizations and individuals involved with Green Shorelines, including the Marine and Nearshore National Estuary Program grant administrators, Puget Sound Partnership, Green Shores for Homes, and others on how to best collaborate our project products in order to further advance green shorelines implementation. I have given project presentations to Ecology and local shoreline planners to facilitate discussion and feedback on my project development. The project products identified so far include a Green Shorelines Stabilization Concept and Management Principles definition geared toward assisting shoreline planners in understanding Green Shorelines stabilization, assistance in promoting Green Shorelines through incentives, and training of local shoreline planners on Green Shorelines. I am currently working on a fellowship project summary to share with interested stakeholders.
It is definitely a steep learning curve, but the frequent shoreline site visits, ferry boat rides on Puget Sound, and the motivated people I meet every day give me the energy to tackle this issue. I anticipate the future months of my fellowship to continue to propel me forward in my mission toward Green Shorelines.