The erosion of coastal wetlands along the shoreline is, to a large degree, a natural process that has been occurring over a long period of time, shaping and reshaping the coastal environment. For this reason, doing nothing to address erosion is an option that should be considered. If the erosion is natural and not causing an immediate hazard to property, structures, or infrastructure, doing nothing is usually the least costly and environmentally preferable option.
In evaluating the “do-nothing” alternative, assess the level of risk you are willing to accept in conjunction with the existing and expected uses of the property. The “do nothing” alternative makes the most sense if:
- there aren’t any structures on your property,
- the property is in areas of critical habitat,
- or in areas where erosion is minimal and a structure is located far away from the wetland.
Expect wetland boundaries to change. The nature and location of coastal wetlands may change in the future with increasing elevation of the highest annual tide due to sea-level rise. (See the Maine Geological Survey mapping efforts for sea-level rise in southern Maine.)
The steps below will help you decide if the “do-nothing” alternative makes sense for your property.
1) Contact local, state and/or federal regulatory officials. Individuals experienced with coastal regulations may not need to consult officials in all cases; however, if in doubt seek regulatory advice before proceeding with a project.
2) Obtain an environmental assessment from a certified engineer or other qualified professional with expertise in coastal geology and biology. In most cases local, state, and/or federal regulators can help direct you to the best professional discipline to assist with your specific project. Sometimes it is helpful to have the consultant completing the environmental assessment and the construction contractor present at regulatory consultation meetings.
3) Evaluate your risk. Check your insurance coverage to make sure you have adequate liability coverage related to loss due to shoreline erosion or flooding, as well as flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program.