Options for Coastal Erosion

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    Dunes

    • Dunes are a natural occurrence formed by wind pushing sand up into a pile, like a snowdrift. They come in all shapes and sizes and protect the land from waves. Dunes are a good choice in preventing erosion because dune formation is a natural process. A dune can be created by having obstacles, such as vegetation, in place that can trap the sand, encouraging formation. An alternative, with mixed results, is the placement of hay bales.

    Vegetation

    • The root systems and leaves of small plants may prevent soil erosion from water. Larger plants such as mangroves and sea grapes may help in blocking damage from wind. By allowing wetlands and vegetation to migrate inland and having laws in place to prohibit the removal of certain vegetation, erosion may be slowed in the long term.

    Construction

    • This is a controversial option for minimizing erosion because it is not a natural process. Seawall and bulkheads are made from such things as rock, timber and concrete and are used to create a wall against waves and soil washout. Walls work well in the area where erected but can exacerbate or create new problems elsewhere because of a change in water direction that the wall may cause. A more natural approach may be in the use of riprap.

    Sand Replenishment

    • Bringing in sand to replenish the beach works well in the short term, but because it must be a recurring process it can be costly. Another concern is the dredging to acquire the sand. Dredging can alter the environment somewhere else, potentially causing new erosion issues. The sand that is brought in must be similar in composition to the current sand so that it does not upset the natural habitat of turtles and birds. An alternative may be using sandbags.

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