Landowner experiences with soft shore projects in Puget Sound
von Reis Crooks, Skadi Anna
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Soft shore projects have been implemented in Puget Sound as alternatives to hard armoring structures to ameliorate armoring-associated physical and ecological impacts. Private landowners steward the majority of Puget Sound shorelines and their perspectives are critical to informing management. Using qualitative research methods this study examined landowners’ decision-making and evaluations of their implemented soft shore projects. Semi-structured interviews were conducted at 12 sites with 15 participants. Decision-making was focused around fulfilling goals of erosion control and securing access to the beach. A dozen other factors were involved with decision-making that varied across experiences. Landowners’ evaluations of projects covered a broad range of themes including site-specific aspects, focused on erosion control and maintenance, and external impacts, including interactions with neighbors and neighboring sites. Experiences were also shaped by the broader management contexts including permitting and guidance, and respondents shared many ideas for improvements. There was variation observed in landowner goals, concerns, and overall evaluations. Incorporating the experiences and knowledge of local stakeholders helps foster shared understandings, expands the dialogue of what is considered important to landowners, gives implications for management grounded in real-life experiences, and demonstrates the value of attention to the social context within which shoreline management is embedded.
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