Beaches, Dunes, and Shorelines
Maintaining natural coastlines, beaches and dunes is another area of importance being revisited in the new CCMP. Originally included under Habitat Management, this value has been narrowed to focus specifically on intertidal marshes and flats; sandy beaches; armored shorelines; marsh shorelines; and dunes. The first CCMP focused on reducing the loss of beach and dune habitat through regulation changes, determining the impacts of dredging activities and disposal practices on natural beach erosion processes, researching the extent of shoreline erosion caused by boat wakes and other factors, and reducing the loss of intertidal habitat due to bulkheading or shoreline armoring.
Over the past ten years, an inventory of shoreline changes along the Alabama coast since 1979 has been conducted, as has the re-nourishment of 16.5 miles of Gulf-fronting beach in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach after severe erosion brought on by storms since 1995. A dune restoration project restored 55 acres of primary dune habitat in and around Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, and Fort Morgan. Today, following years of research, the issues of establishing more natural shorelines on bays, backwaters, and rivers have become as important as protecting our Gulf-fronting beaches in an effort to restore and protect healthier, resilient, and habitat-rich shorelines.