Dot’s Reading Room: Keeping the Ocean at Bay 

April 26, 2024

Rising seas are a growing concern along the east coast (and all coasts, for that matter.) Photos of Scituate, Plum Island or Hampton Beach at high tide with the ensuing damage to waterfront homes are becoming more and more common. If you have a cottage along the Massachusetts, New Hampshire, or Maine coasts, reading this story from one of our fellow non-profit journalism services, MongaBay, will be encouraging.

U.S. East Coast adopts ‘living shorelines’ approach to keep rising seas at bay

Writing from Blue Hill, Maine, photojournalist and editor Eric Hoffner reports:

“Along the U.S. East Coast, communities are grappling with the dual destructive forces of rising sea levels and stronger storms pushed by climate change, resulting in effects ranging from ‘ghost forests’ of saltwater-killed coastal trees in the Carolinas to inundations of New York City’s subway system.

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“While the usual response has been to build higher seawalls and other concrete or rock structures, a natural approach that aims to protect coastal areas with natural assets that also create habitat and are generally cheaper and less carbon intensive — ‘living shorelines’ — is increasingly taking hold.

“State agencies and landowners alike are shoring up the shore with innovative combinations of locally-sourced logs, rocks and native plants and shrubs to protect homes, dunes, and beaches. In Maine, where a trio of powerful winter storms recently pummeled the coast, living shorelines designers are in growing demand.” 

Here is more of Hoffner’s story and compelling photos about this new approach to saving the coastline:

BLUE HILL, Maine — January brought a pair of rough storms to the northeastern U.S. They hit when the tides were high and pushed higher than normal by rising sea levels, setting numerous high-water records and prompting Maine Governor Janet Mills to request a federal disaster declaration. These events, just three days apart, built on damage suffered during another storm during the December 2023 holidays and another during the previous December.

“Extensive” is the word that Peter Slovinsky, a marine geologist for the Maine Geological Survey, chose to describe the most recent damage during an interview with Mongabay. He pointed to an estimate that 60 percent of Maine’s working waterfronts were severely damaged. 

Hoffner toured one endangered property with a contractor who is taking a different approach to “shoring up” the bluff where the home is located.

Read his story at

MongaBay is a non-profit conservation news service.

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