Beach Strategies for Nearshore Restoration and Protection in Puget Sound

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This project aims to develop science-based strategies to guide future protection and restoration efforts on Puget Sound beaches. To do this, we need to improve the quality of existing regional shoreline data, work collaboratively with partners to assess critical needs, and help apply the new data to make more informed decisions.

Prior to the initiation of the Beach Strategies project, existing strategies were found to be insufficient; the resolution was coarse, there were many gaps and errors, and they did not support the challenges faced by local governments and restoration groups. The outputs of this project include data sets of higher resolution and accuracy that will enable better tracking of Puget Sound Vital Signs (shoreline armor and armored feeder bluffs) and more effective strategy development and implementation. The strategies that emerge from this project will guide improved protection of nearshore ecosystems, better choices about where and how to restore beaches, and more scientific approaches to monitoring shoreline conditions and vital signs. The Beach Strategies project currently consists of two parts; later elements may be added based on the results of the initial efforts and collaborations with potential end-users of the data products.

Beach CGS.jpg

Part 1 focused on beach strategy geodatabase development through a contract with the Estuary and Salmon Restoration Program (ESRP) through 2017. Part 1 included an assessment of the existing shore armor mapping (in partnership with PSEMP and NOAA) with limited updated mapping (130 miles); refinement to several other nearshore data sets (including net shore-drift, shoretypes, shoreline parcel data other than existing residential parcels); and a user contribution and early-stage development process called the “Straw Dog” workshops, in which collaboration from end-users on potential strategies is compiled. Results of these efforts formed the foundation for further strategy development in Part 2. All data in the geodatabase is Sound-wide, including detailed metadata and a user’s guide. A summary report describes results of the data assessment, all data updates, and potential uses for the data based on the results of the collaborative process with end-users.

This graphic displays the overall flow of the larger Beach Strategies project, which consists of two distinct phases. Phase 1 largely focused on data development followed by some initial outreach to end-users to gain critical feedback that will guide the Phase 2 efforts. Phase 2 is focused on working with end-users to develop strategies, metrics and eventually apply the updated beach strategies.

CGS and partners are currently seeking funding to support Part 2 of this first phase of work. Part 2 will consist of convening stakeholder meetings to identify beach strategy priorities and GIS metrics; and conducting spatial analyses. The resulting new beach strategies will link with previous beach strategy data to enable users to “cross-walk” between the old and updated beach strategy priorities. A web-based mapping tool will be developed for non-GIS users to access the data and a training curriculum will be developed to educate users on how to access and best use the data and analytical outputs. Finally, the data will be transferred to a long-term data steward. CGS will advise the data steward until the transition is complete. The project is led by Coastal Geologic Services, together with the guidance of a multi-agency steering committee that consists of representatives from WDFW, PSP, WDOE, and NOAA.

Part 1 Detailed Tasks

Armor Assessment

The first task entails a compilation of the most up-to-date shore armor data and an assessment of the variable quality of the source data. Armored data sources were evaluated for quality, coverage, data resolution, and eventually ranked with a composite measure of data quality. Ranking was used to identify areas most in need of updated mapping. Updated armor mapping was conducted for the highest ranking 130 miles of shoreline. The data were integrated into an updated version of the Puget Sound Armor database. A long-term armor mapping data collection and management protocol was developed as part of this task.

Identify Potential Beach Strategies: “The Straw-Dog”

This task entails conducting outreach to potential end-users of the Beach Strategies data to better understand the types of questions that would be asked to identify regional beach restoration and protection of priority areas. A workshop was hosted to discuss potential beach strategies and a follow-up data assessment was conducted to identify data sets necessary for analysis and to identify any data gaps.

Beach Strategy Geodatabase Refinements

This task entails applying refinements to several nearshore data sets required to update the Beach Strategies data. Several of these data sets and refinements were already known, and several additional refinements were identified during earlier tasks. Data sets include:

  • Historical feeder bluffs (currently armored bluffs)
  • Integrated shoretypes (including new pocket beach mapping)
  • Updated net shore-drift cells
  • Fetch and erosion potential
  • Comprehensive shoreline parcel database
  • Miscellaneous data refinement

A breif, 15-minute video tour of the Beach Strategies spatial data is available on the Coastal Geologic Services YouTube page.

Reporting and Geodatabase User’s Guide

The Phase 1 report describes all elements of Phase 1 tasks in detail, including assessment methods, database refinement, and results of the beach strategy development process. The geodatabase includes all data layers developed and compiled for the project, with metadata. The User’s Guide is succinct (less than 20 pages) and clearly outlines data sources, explains how to link with previous beach strategies, and details methods used to incorporate new data.

An example of a possible data use scenario is pictured below. This example illustrates how updated armor mapping completed as part of the Beach Strategies project can be used to quickly highlight areas of failing or derelict armor and associate them with adjacent parcels to guide restoration and outreach efforts (this mapping was only updated in selected areas, and is not available Sound-wide. More updated mapping is proposed for Phase 2). These data scenarios, referred to as "baseball cards", were part of the project deliverables (2 total). The completed files, with descriptive text, can be found on the PRISM site (link below).

An example of a data-use scenario involving updated armor mapping as part of the Beach Strategies Project.

Part 1 was completed at the end of 2017. Read the report here:

Report: File:CGS ESRP BeachStrategies SummaryReport 20171025.pdf

Appendices: File:CGS ESRP BeachStrategies SummaryReportAppendices 20171025.pdf

The final report and its appendices, including the Geodatabase Refinements Summary and User's Guide, are also available on the PRISM project site (follow the link below).

Detail on Phase 2 tasks will be updated after the project is scoped. Phase 2 is currently being scoped by the CGS and ESRP teams.