What Are Bulkheads



Why are bulkheads a concern?

Many marine waterfront properties in Mason County have bulkheads or other types of shoreline armor that were installed years earlier. “Hard shoreline armor” refers to waterfront walls made from cast concrete, rock, creosote, piles of broken concrete, old tires, railroad ties, and other materials that were installed to slow or stop erosion.

Today we know that bulkheads are not always the best (or the only) option for dealing with erosion. This is good news for Puget Sound. Why? Well, we better understand that coastal erosion is actually a valuable process for maintaining the health of Puget Sound. Over time, erosion provides the sediment that creates and maintains the beautiful beaches that we enjoy so much. However, shoreline armor like bulkheads interferes with the process of sediment deposition, “starving” beaches and changing their form – and even their ability to support marine species. Hard shoreline armor can also cause other unintended problems such as accelerated beach erosion, eventually undermining the stability of the armor itself. It also leaches toxic chemicals from creosote and heavy metals from pressure treated wood into the water.

[/one_half] [one_half_omega]

What options are there for waterfront properties with bulkheads?

  • In some situations, it may be possible to remove a bulkhead completely or to replace it with a “soft shoreline stabilization” alternative that slows down erosion – but also provides valuable habitat.
  • In other cases, shoreline armor may be too risky to remove, but there are ways you can help to improve environmental conditions on your shoreline.

We can help you assess whether a bulkhead alternative – or even a removal project – might work for your waterfront. If such a project is feasible, we can discuss the options available to you, including potential sources of funding for removal. Even if shoreline armor can’t be removed, there are still steps you can take to support the health of Puget Sound.