The erosion of soft coastal bluffs along the shoreline is, to a large degree, a natural process that has been occurring consistently over 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 not causing an immediate hazard to property 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 often makes the most sense if there aren’t any structures on the property, or if existing structures are located far away from the eroding bluff, and the bluff has an identified and steady erosion rate.
Prior to deciding if the “do-nothing” alternative is right for a given situation coastal property owners should:
1) Contact local, state and/or federal officials to obtain regulatory advice. Individuals experienced with coastal regulations may not need to seek regulatory advice in all cases; however, if in doubt seek advice before proceeding with a project.
2) Obtain an assessment from a certified engineer or other qualified environmental professional. In most cases, local, state, and/or federal regulators can help identify the best professional discipline to assist with a specific project. And sometimes it is helpful to have the consultant completing the environmental assessment and the construction contractor present at regulatory consultation meetings.
3) Owners of coastal property along eroding bluffs or near landslide-prone areas should check their insurance coverage to make sure they have adequate liability coverage related to loss due to landslides or shoreline erosion, as well as flood insurance.