The widespread extent and continued construction of seawalls and bulkheads on Puget Sound's beaches has emerged as a significant issue in shoreline management and coastal restoration in the region. Concerns about the impacts of shoreline armoring and managing the potential risks to coastal property are in many ways similar to those in other places, but Puget Sound also poses unique challenges related to its sheltered setting, glacially formed geology, rich estuarine ecology, and historical development pattern.
The effects of armoring on shorelines are complex, involving both physical and biological science and requiring consideration of the cumulative impacts of small-scale activities over large scales of space and time. In addition, the issue is controversial, as it often places strongly held private interests in protecting shoreline property against broad public mandates to preserve shorelines for public uses and to protect environmental resources. Communities making difficult decisions about regulating shoreline activities and prioritizing restoration projects need to be informed by the best science available.
To address these issues, a scientific workshop was convened in May 2009, specifically to bring local and national experts together to review the state of the science regarding the physical and biological impacts of armoring on sheltered shorelines such as those of Puget Sound.