Gulf of Mexico
Destin Log

FL - Tough as nails, living shorelines abound in Okaloosa and Walton counties

A sea wall is at its greatest strength on the day it’s installed, says Rachel Gwin.

A sea wall is at its greatest strength on the day it’s installed, says Rachel Gwin.

In comparison, natural living shorelines “grow stronger with time,” said Gwin, who is the restoration coordinator for the Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance of Northwest Florida State College. “They’re low maintenance and not very costly to repair.”

The nonprofit, Santa Rosa Beach-based Basin Alliance has worked in various ways to sustain healthy waterways for a quarter of a century. According to the organization, a living shoreline is a shoreline management option that uses living plants, recycled oyster shells, fossilized oyster shell, sand fill, or a combination of natural structures with riprap or offshore breakwaters to protect property from erosion.

Since about 2009, alliance employees and volunteers have installed and helped install living shorelines on dozens of privately and publicly owned properties around Choctawhatchee Bay and some of its connecting water bodies such as Santa Rosa Sound. Most of the living shorelines stand within 10 feet of the mean high water line.

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