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Puget Sound Feeder Bluffs photo

Puget Sound Feeder Bluffs

Feeder Bluffs and Shoreline Armoring

Seawalls and bulkheads are common along much of Puget Sound’s shoreline. Most were built to reduce erosion and to improve access to the water. At the same time, such structures can adversely impact shorelines in a number of different ways, depending on how and where they are built.

Shoreline armoring in Puget Sound poses a particularly serious threat to the function of feeder bluffs, since the ongoing erosion of these bluffs is so important to maintaining the supply of sediment to nearby beaches.

Preventing erosion through shoreline armoring diminishes the delivery of sediment and can have long-term impacts on beach condition. For more on this, see related web pages on Shoreline Stabilization and Restoration of Feeder Bluffs.

A timber pile bulkhead on a feeder bluff
A timber pile bulkhead on a feeder bluff. Initially, some sediment may overtop the structure, but ultimately this source of beach material is prevented from reaching the littoral system.

Shoreline armoring is a classic example of an environmental problem involving cumulative impacts. Individual structures may have a relatively small effect on the sediment budget of an entire drift cell and their effects may take years to materialize. But on many shorelines, the aggregate impact of many small structures can become significant, particularly over longer time frames.

More on Shoreline Armoring

Impacts of hardening the shoreline with erosion control structures have been discussed at length in other publications:

 

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