A new grant-funded project will develop critical tools to encourage shoreline property owners to make their shorelines greener. Tools will include a voluntary rating system for shoreline development, along with incentives.
The City of Seattle, San Juan County, Washington Sea Grant and Islands Trust in British Columbia are partnering on the Green Shores for Homes grant.
The project will focus on both freshwater and marine shorelines.
More than 70 percent of the Lake Washington and Lake Sammamish shorelines are lined with bulkheads, rip rap or other armoring. Along Puget Sound shorelines, 25 to 60 percent of the shoreline is armored. These hard shorelines don’t provide shelter and limit food for fish, birds and other wildlife. They have also lost their natural function of replenishing beaches with sediment.
The US Environmental Protection Agency awarded Green Shores for Homes a four-year grant of over $500,000 to develop and test technical guidelines and incentives. The project will build on Seattle’s existing Green Shorelines guidebook.
The rating system will be based on the Green Shores for Coastal Development Rating System (CDRS) developed by the Stewardship Centre of British Columbia. The CDRS is a voluntary rating certification framework for coastal development modeled after the highly successful LEEDtm Green Building rating.
The Green Shores for Homes program will be completely voluntary. The rating system will help homeowners evaluate options to improve their shorelines. Projects could include elements such as:
- Planting native shoreline vegetation to provide food and shelter for wildlife
- Removing or setting back a bulkhead
- Creating a beach or beach cove to provide shallow shoreline habitat
- Diverting stormwater runoff
- Reducing shoreline lighting
- Changing docks to reduce dark shadows that hide fish predators
The project will also develop incentives to encourage homeowners to build or retrofit a more sustainable shoreline. Incentives could include expedited permit processing, planning guidance, property tax credits or other assistance. Partners will develop trainings for homeowners and the building and landscape industries in Seattle and San Juan County.
The project is now getting off the ground with the formation of a technical advisory committee.
The first task is to map and classify shoreline areas amenable to greener shorelines. This will help determine which properties could successfully remove their bulkheads without risking loss from erosion, and which properties would need to take a more modest approach.
For more information about Green Shores for Homes, contact Maggie Glowacki at the City of Seattle, (206) 386-4036 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
What incentives do you think would best encourage green shoreline development?
Find photos, examples and details about green shorelines here.