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Living Shoreline Suitability Model for Tampa Bay

Living shoreline in Panama City

Photo credit: Saint Andrew Bay Watch

Shoreline erosion from strong storm action and sea level rise affecting waterfront property values has emphasized the need for shoreline protection in coastal areas. In the recent past, shorelines have been stabilized with hardened structures, such as bulkheads, revetments, and concrete seawalls. Ironically, these structures often increase the rate of coastal erosion, remove the ability of the shoreline to carry out natural processes, and provide little habitat for estuarine species. Alternatively, government agencies responsible for resource protection have proposed more natural bank stabilization and erosion control called “living shorelines.” These solutions incorporate vegetation or other native elements (such as oyster shell) to maintain continuity of the natural land-water interface and reduce erosion while providing habitat value and enhancing coastal resilience.

The Fish and Wildlife Research Institute’s Center for Spatial Analysis applied the Virginia Institute of Marine Science’s Living Shoreline Suitability Model (LSSM) to the Tampa Bay region.  The LSSM requires information about existing environmental conditions to correctly apply a decision tree, such as existing habitat, slope of coastal waters, environmental conditions, and potential construction barriers. Based upon this decision tree, the LSSM provides best management practices of shoreline protection techniques to property owners and management entities. 

Learn more about how FWC's Coastal Wildlife Conservation Initiative is taking action to promote and educate people about living shorelines and find out more information about their relative benefits to other forms of shoreline stabilization. 

Living Shorelines Web Map Thumbnail

Project results are summarized in the Tampa Bay Living Shorelines Story Map. The ArcGIS Online Story Map demonstrates the benefits of living shorelines and provides a tool for managers to identify potential preservation and mitigation areas.

Explore the Tampa Bay Living Shorelines Story Map

Additional Data and Maps

Explore the Tampa Bay Living Shorelines Web Mapping Application

Download GIS Data for the Tampa Bay Living Shorelines project

For detailed project methods and results check out the Final Project Report: Living Shoreline Suitability Model for Tampa Bay: A GIS Approach

Contact Information

For more information about this project, please contact Chris.Boland@MyFWC.com or Kathleen.OKeife@MyFWC.com.

This project was funded by the Tampa Bay Environmental Restoration Fund and the Gulf of Mexico Alliance Habitat Resources Priority Issue Team (GOMA Grant No.: 121623-00).