Coastal erosion refers to the removal of coastal land by wind, ocean currents and waves. Land affected by coastal erosion includes beaches and dunes. Sandy, softer land erodes faster than rocky, hard land. There are several methods used to prevent or slow down the rate of coastal erosion.
"Soft" solutions to coastal erosion are those that work with the natural processes of the coastal environment. Managing beach access will stop pedestrians and vehicles from wearing away coastal land. It is possible to reshape dunes and replace lost sand on beaches. Intact sand dunes are some of the most effective methods of erosion management on open coasts. Planting native plants in the sand can also build up sand dunes, preventing them from blowing away with the wind.
Hard Engineering Solutions
"Hard" engineering solutions, such as artificial reefs or rock walls, are not recommended for areas where the natural character of the land is important, as these will change look and feel of the coast. Adding artificial reefs can reduce the wave energy that will hit the headlands, slowing coastal erosion. Walls can be constructed to hold headlands in place. Rock walls using local rock will ensure that the structure does not stand out. Moving storm water drainage from a beach to a rocky area will also reduce the amount of erosion that occurs.
Incorporating vegetation to the coastal area can help protect coastal slopes, strengthen soil, prevent landslides and reduce erosion. This is an inexpensive technique that can also help create wildlife habitats and improve the quality of the coastal land. It is best to use vegetation that is already in the coastal area as this will have a greater chance of surviving. Covering exposed soil will reduce frost and wind erosion by forming gullies and rills. Planting techniques include brush planting, live staking, seeding and using container plants.
Before any coastal erosion steps can be taken, proper consent must be received to ensure that the erosion control methods follow all regulations. Check with local government and state agencies about what methods are allowed. Permits are generally needed for this type of work.