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Living Shoreline Tool

Full Title: Living shoreline site suitability model transfer for selected water bodies within the Gulf of Mexico: A GIS and remote sensing-based approach

This project adapted an existing computer model for assessing the suitability of a site for construction of a living shoreline, applied the model to Perdido Bay/Wolf Bay/Ono Island complex in coastal Alabama; Lake Pontchartrain, Louisiana; and Galveston Bay, Texas, and developed an interactive decision support tool that allows for a rapid assessment of a site.

The Team: Chris Boyd (Lead Investigator, Troy University,, Xutong Niu (Troy University), Stephen Jones (Geological Survey of Alabama), Lee Anne Wilde (Galveston Bay Foundation), and Marcia R. Berman (Virginia Institute of Marine Science)

Technical Monitor: Cynthia Meyer (

Federal Program Officer/Point of Contact: Frank Parker (

This project began in June 2017 and ended in December 2020.

Award Amount: $519,853

Why it matters: Living shorelines are an infrastructure technique that uses native vegetation alone or in combination with offshore structures to stabilize the shoreline while maintaining natural coastal processes. Living shorelines provide a natural alternative to `hard’ shoreline stabilization methods like stone revetments or bulkheads, and provide numerous benefits including erosion control, the reduction of nutrient pollution, essential fish habitat, and buffering of the shoreline from waves and storms. This project will produce a decision support tool which property owners and environmental managers can use to determine what areas are best suitable for conversion from `hard’ shoreline to living shoreline infrastructure.

What the team is doing: In deciding whether a living shoreline is an appropriate solution for reducing erosion at a particular site, a living shoreline suitability computer model can be used to provide recommended upland and shoreline best management practices. This project will customize an existing living shoreline suitability model developed by the Virginia Institute of Marine Science to work in Perdido Bay/Wolf Bay/Ono Island complex in coastal Alabama; Lake Pontchartrain, Louisiana; and Galveston Bay, Texas. In addition, the developers will create an interactive decision support tool for these areas as well as Tampa Bay, Florida, where model adaptation is already underway, to illustrate the principles of the basic model and allow users to interact with it.

Expected Outcome: The application of this model and tool to other water bodies within the Gulf of Mexico will help promote living shoreline protection options to federal and state agencies, homeowners, marine contractors, natural resource managers, and city planners. A series of workshops conducted by the model developers will assure the model and tool reach decision makers.

From the seminar “Lessons Learned from the Gulf of Mexico Living Shorelines Suitability Models and Decision Support Tool” 
Presenter: Dr. Chris Boyd, Troy University

Other Resources

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