Private Development and Corporate Funding to Fight Shoreline Erosion
At its simplest, shoreline erosion is the result of the combination of processes, both natural and manmade, by which shoreline and beaches are damaged or lost. For this discussion, wetlands are also included. There is an ongoing debate over the best way by which to preserve beaches, shorelines, and wetlands. Conservation extremists argue that limiting or restricting land use, and restoring damaged property with tax money represents the most prudent answer to shoreline erosion. Included in this position is the inherent role of government intervention to preserve America’s shoreline. There are many problems with the conservation position, and many advantages to the alternate solution --- private development and corporate funding.
The most damaging factor to America’s shoreline is that of poorly planned development in environmentally fragile coastal areas that lead to erosion and various forms of pollution. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers estimated in 1971 that 40% of the total shoreline of the lower 48 states was experiencing significant erosion. Wind and wave action associated with high tides are the cause of natural erosion. Damming rivers restricts the flow of eroded rock, which is the source of much sand (Rhinehart, 1997). These factors are best addressed by infusions of venture capital applied with sound business principles and sensitivity for environmental concerns.
Sound planning by the private sector is essential. The number of people living within 50 miles of the U.S. coastline rose from 61 million to 130 million between 1940 and 1988. More than 50% of Americans currently live within 50 miles of the shoreline, but the figure is projected to rise to 75% by 2010. The number of nonresident tourists traveling to coastal areas has also grown substantially. Many, if not most, of our coastal environment concerns stem from population growth pressure (Rhinehart, 1997). These trends make it clear that the hodgepodge of environmental and zoning laws throughout the country --- many at odds with each other --- are unable to cope with the pressures brought to bear on America’s shoreline resources. Only the consistently well-reasoned principles of private industry can answer the growing needs of shoreline, beach, and water resource management.
There are many wise and sensible voices pointing out the failures and shortcomings of the conservation movement. Washington State Representative Joyce Mulliken, R-Ephrata, has recently announced the proposal of legislation to repeal shoreline regulations approved by the Washington Department of Ecology (DOE). The regulations would prohibit the use of all lands within 200 feet of a shoreline, including commercial development, farming, ranching, and other essential activities. Rep. Mulliken points out those state’s most extreme environmental lobbyists created these rules, without concern for legitimate business...