Describe Your Solution:
Our solution seeks to restore and protect California?s shoreline ecosystems and communities using an innovative restoration technique known as the ?living shorelines? approach. A living shoreline is defined as a nature-based solution that uses ?a suite of bank stabilization and habitat restoration techniques to reinforce the shoreline, minimize coastal erosion, and maintain coastal processes while protecting, restoring, enhancing, and creating natural habitat for fish and aquatic plants and wildlife? (NOAA Habitat Restoration Center). The shoreline of California historically included a diverse patchwork of native oyster beds, eelgrass beds, marshes, and other subtidal and intertidal habitat that acted as a buffer against storm surges, sea level rise, and coastal flooding. Human activity has destroyed much of this habitat along the California coast, and by recreating and restoring this native habitat, we hope to provide a foundation for native species to recover and once again provide these important ecosystem services. Living shorelines provide living space for estuarine and coastal organisms, while increasing connectivity of wetlands, intertidal and subtidal habitats, and providing a measure of shoreline protection. Although living shoreline techniques have been implemented in other regions such as Chesapeake Bay, the concept is new to California, and we are conducting pilot studies at multiple sites along the California coast in order to see which techniques and methods work best. Working with local partners, we have implemented pilot projects in San Francisco Bay and Alamitos Bay and a third project is in development stages in San Diego Bay. One of our goals is to have these pilot projects serve as a model for communities to create ecosystem based solutions for shoreline protection without having to depend on large and expensive hard infrastructure projects like seawalls and armored shorelines. Living shorelines can be scaled up or down to suit a specific community?s needs and resources, so the method can be replicated as a lower cost, lower technology method of shoreline protection and habitat restoration.