WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker today joined six other colleagues in introducing the Living Shorelines Act, a piece of legislation that would create a new grant program for nature-based shoreline protection projects known as living shorelines. As sea-level rise and coastal storms continue to threaten thousands of coastal communities and economies, investing in living shorelines can help reduce risk from floods and storms and increase the resiliency of our coasts.

“As climate change continues to threaten our environment, we must ensure that our shore communities are prepared in the face of potentially devastating storms that hit our region,” said Sen. Menendez. “After Superstorm Sandy wreaked havoc on our state, I fought hard for federal funding to make our communities stronger and more resilient. This bill will continue aiding New Jersey’s shore towns in helping protect our families, environment and economy.”

“New Jersey communities are increasingly threatened by the effects of sea level rise and extreme weather events caused by climate change,” said Sen. Booker. “As we saw in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, investments in natural infrastructure, such as living shorelines, can mitigate flooding, improve public safety, and provide a significant return on investment.”

Living shorelines are a type of green infrastructure that protect and stabilize coastal edges by using natural materials such as plants, sand, shell, or rock. Unlike a concrete seawall or other artificial structure, which impedes the growth of plants and animals, living shorelines can grow over time, allowing them to adapt to changing conditions. Using green and natural infrastructure, communities can create a buffer that mitigates the impacts of shoreline flooding by reducing wave energy and decreasing erosion. Green infrastructure is cost-effective and can also provide benefits such as improved local water quality and ecology.

The Living Shorelines Act will:

  • Establish a grant program to help states, towns, and NGOs implement climate resilient living shoreline projects and encourage the use of natural materials in the protection of coastal communities;
  • Direct NOAA to develop criteria to select grantees based on the potential of the project to protect the community, and the ecological benefits of the project, among other things;
  • Prioritize areas that have received a Stafford Act disaster declaration or areas that have a documented history of coastal inundation or erosion; and
  • Authorize $50 million a year for these grants.

Senators Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) are also cosponsoring the legislation. Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-N.J.-06) introduced companion legislation in the House.

Supporters of the Living Shorelines Act include The National Wildlife Federation, the Nature Conservancy, and the American Society of Landscape Architects.