Report by Friends of the San Juans highlights lack of regulatory review for new waterfront structures

Posted November 25, 2022 at 7:06 pm by

Friends of the San Juans shares news about the results of a research project more than a decade in the making.

With more than 400 miles of coast­line, San Juan Coun­ty is a sanc­tu­ary of breath­tak­ing sea­side views. When left unchanged by the hands of humans, shore­lines and the wide range of life they sup­port are amaz­ing­ly resilient. Often a fear of coastal ero­sion — a nat­ur­al process that builds our beach­es — insti­gates own­ers to build struc­tures near the water, an approach known as shore­line armor­ing. Sea­walls, bulk­heads, and riprap are a few exam­ples. Shore­line armor direct­ly buries and alters safe havens essen­tial to small salmon and their prey, and dis­rupts the process­es that form and main­tain the beach­es we all love.

Friends of the San Juans just released find­ings from a decade’s worth of research that illu­mi­nate how San Juan County’s water­front prop­er­ties are shoring up in the face of devel­op­ment. The results are shock­ing. More than 90 per­cent of new shore­line armor installed in San Juan Coun­ty between 2009 and 2019 was built with­out the nec­es­sary state or local per­mits before being installed. Despite know­ing just how harm­ful armor­ing can be to habi­tat, the instal­la­tion of new shore­line armor is great­ly out­pac­ing removal.

Friends is dis­cussing this research with land man­agers and deci­sion-mak­ers, and work­ing coop­er­a­tive­ly with state and munic­i­pal offi­cials on solu­tions to safe­guard San Juan County’s beaches.

“It’s so impor­tant that we under­stand what’s actu­al­ly hap­pen­ing on the ground,” says Friends of the San Juans Sci­ence Direc­tor Tina Whit­man. “This research pro­vides an objec­tive look at cur­rent armor and per­mit trends. It clear­ly shows that if we are seri­ous about recov­er­ing salmon and orca, we need much bet­ter track­ing and per­mit and enforce­ment systems.”

Friends pro­vides free tech­ni­cal assis­tance to help shore­line prop­er­ty own­ers pro­tect their invest­ments and sup­port marine food webs at the same time. Con­tact Tina Whit­man if you are con­cerned about ero­sion and want to learn how to main­tain a healthy nat­ur­al beach, or are inter­est­ed in remov­ing an exist­ing bulk­head and want to learn about alter­na­tives to hard armor.

You can also learn more about the research and join the con­ver­sa­tion around healthy shore­lines at Friends of the San Juans’ free vir­tu­al event, titled Track­ing Change: Shore­line Armor­ing in San Juan Coun­ty. The event takes place Tues­day, Dec. 6 from noon‑1 p.m.

You can support the San Juan Update by doing business with our loyal advertisers, and by making a one-time contribution or a recurring donation.

Categories: Around Here

No comments yet. Be the first!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

By submitting a comment you grant the San Juan Update a perpetual license to reproduce your words and name/web site in attribution. Inappropriate, irrelevant and contentious comments may not be published at an admin's discretion. Your email is used for verification purposes only, it will never be shared.

Receive new post updates: Entries (RSS)
Receive followup comments updates: RSS 2.0