Washington homeowners & EPA team up to restore life to dead engineered shorelines

When landscape designer Paul Broadhurst began work on a large waterfront garden on the Eastside of the Seattle area’s Lake Washington, he was faced with a bleak old concrete bulkhead running along the width of the Lake Washington shoreline.

One piece of the puzzle was getting rid of lawn and bulkhead and restoring the shoreline’s ecology. Broadhurst worked with King County and the City of Kirkland to move a sewer line and to understand all the regulations involved.

He credits the Green Shores for Homes (GSH) program, funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, for its help and expertise.

The Green Shores for Homes has two components:

  • It’s a voluntary, incentive-based program that helps waterfront homeowners restore natural shorelines and enjoy the many recreational, scenic, environmental, and shoreline-protection benefits they bring.Cover GSH Guide Dec 2015; and,
  • It’s a tool for waterfront homeowners, contractors and jurisdictions to develop their properties in a shore friendly way. It is built on a format similar to green building rating programs such as Built Green™ and LEED™.

GSH awarded Broadhurst points for removing all the concrete and creating a gradually sloping shoreline. His work also won points for stormwater management, decreasing wave energy, improving habitat and for the native vegetation along the shoreline, which provides food for insects that feed on the aquatic food web.

He also won points for allowing the property to serve as a living laboratory for refining the GSH program, so they can train professionals who visit the property to study and assess the new beach, shoreline and plantings.

Most gratifying for everyone is how the wildlife so rapidly returned to the naturalistic waterfront. Fish swim along the shoreline; freshwater mussels started washing up within five months of the new beach going in; bald eagles, hawks and herons visit. Butterflies and birds populate the garden, freshwater crayfish live among the bulrush and the owners even have spotted sea otters off the beach.

Lake Wash #2

Home #2 after Dar Webb’s shoreline restoration

At a second residence on Lake Washington, the GSH program helped designer Dar Webb of Darwin Webb Landscape Architects and contractor Mark Putzke of Chandler Homes remove a concrete bulkhead with riprap that bordered 78 ft of the shoreline.

The owners wished to build a larger house on thes single-family lot, but needed to reduce some of the setback requirements.  To compensate for the reduced setbacks, they replaced an existing hardened shoreline with a soft shore.

#2 - before

Home #2 before shoreline restoration

The remaining 40 ft was an unarmored beach cove. Almost 50 ft of the hardening was removed, leaving only the below-grade footing in place for structural integrity. A short section of bulkhead was retained to tie into the neighboring property to the north and another portion left to protect a tree at the south end of the shore.

Where the bulkhead was removed, the owners re-sloped the bank, revegetated the riparian area with native plants, and added gravel, boulders and logs to the shore.

Here’s how the GSH program works: A shoreline project is assessed against a series of credits for which a homeowner or builder can achieve points. There are 27 credits for which points may be achieved:

  • Shoreline physical processes: actions aimed at protecting or restoring natural physical processes that are vital to the health of shoreline environments;
  • Shoreline habitat: actions to protect, restore and enhance aquatic and riparian habitats;
  • Water quality: actions to reduce or eliminate the amount of chemical, organic and sediment pollutants discharged to lakes and marine waters in rainwater runoff.; and,
  • Shoreline stewardship: actions that reflect general best management practices and that help to support public values of shorelines.

Participation in the Green Shores for Homes ensures that a neutral third party reviews and verifies a project checklist to evaluate how many credits apply.

The verifiers are members of the Green Shores for Homes team and act as a resource for the homeowner.

Featured photo by Don White from Pixabay. Interior photos courtesy of Paul Broadhurst.

See full article & photo credits.

See Green Shores for Homes website.

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