Integrated Living Shoreline Tools and Community Outreach

Principal Investigator

A high percentage of the Texas coastline, Galveston Bay in particular, is privately owned. Many waterfront landowners have witnessed a loss of property due to storm-driven erosion, energy from boat and/or ship wakes, as well as subsidence and sea level rise. A common response to these impacts is the installation of bulkheads or other forms of armoring that often increases erosion on adjacent properties and in front of the structure itself. This form of armoring also eliminates or reduces access to valuable habitat. Therefore, it is imperative that waterfront landowners are educated on the importance of living shorelines and have access to resources that allow them to consider a living shoreline as an erosion control response.

Led by Dr. James Gibeaut, Endowed Chair for Coastal and Marine Geospatial Sciences at the Harte Research Institute (HRI), in collaboration with the Galveston Bay Foundation (GBF), this project will align the two living shoreline models described below and develop an online decision support tool for the Texas coast. Through this collaborative effort, a consistent and informative tool set will be developed to help guide local citizens, natural resource agencies, contractors, organizations, and other entities towards more sustainable shoreline protection practices. The project runs January 2021 through December 2021.


About the Galveston Bay Shoreline Protection Model

In an effort to guide communities and regulatory agencies towards more sustainable shoreline protection, GBF partnered with Troy University and the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) to create a GIS-based tool, the Galveston Bay Shoreline Protection Model (Galveston Bay Model). The Galveston Bay Model was adapted from the Shoreline Management Model developed by the Center for Coastal Resources at VIMS. As a GIS spatial model, it can be utilized to determine the appropriate shoreline best management practices from the desktop using available spatial data and decision tree logic. The map-viewer provides local citizens and professionals with the ability to view the conditions and associated shoreline protection recommendations at any location along the Galveston Bay shoreline. The model produces five shoreline protection recommendations (e.g. high-profile breakwater with marsh planting) in addition to six “special considerations” which encourage the user to seek advice from a professional.

In addition to the map-viewer, VIMS developed a Decision Support Tool that provides shoreline management recommendations based on data supplied by the user. This allows an end user to enter data in real time based on observed conditions, as opposed to the model which makes recommendations based on data previously collected from a variety of sources. However, the Decision Support Tool created by VIMS is specific to the Chesapeake Bay region and needs to be adapted to the Texas coast to include more common terminology and conditions applicable to Texas.


About the Living Shoreline Site Suitability Model

Independently, HRI was contracted by the Texas General Land Office (GLO) to develop a Living Shoreline Site Suitability Model covering all bay shorelines, including the Galveston Bay system where it overlaps with the GBF model. While similar in design to the GBF Galveston Bay Shoreline Protection Model, the HRI-GLO model provides more generalized shoreline treatment recommendations such as soft stabilization, hybrid stabilization, retrofit, and not suitable.