10 Questions to Ask When Building Defenses to Protect Hudson River Shorelines

shore zones


The questions included in this guide are designed to help you choose the right kind of shore defenses (if any) for your site. They are intended to open and guide your discussions with engineers, landscape architects, and regulators who will work with you.


Shore zones (the area near the shore, on both the land and water sides) are valuable for both people and nature. People use shore zones for all kinds of recreation – hiking, swimming, fishing, hunting, boating, bird-watching, and contemplation – as well as building houses, marinas, roads, sewage treatment plants, and other infrastructure.

Shore zones also are often vital habitat for fish, shellfish, wildlife, birds, and plants, and can perform important ecological services (water purification, erosion protection) for people. People often build shore defenses like bulkheads, revetments, levees, and breakwaters to protect shore zones against erosion and flooding, or improve them for specific human uses. In the past, these typically were built without regard to their ecological effects, and often caused serious ecological damage.

We now realize that careful design, construction, and management of shore defenses can both meet human needs and protect (or even enhance) habitat for the species that share shore zones with us.

The following questions are designed to help you choose the right kind of shore defenses (if any) for your site. They are intended to open and guide your discussions with engineers, landscape architects, and regulators who will work with you.

Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies | Millbrook, New York 12545 | Tel (845) 677-5343

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