Issue Brief: The Living Shorelines Act


Rising sea level and increased storm surges pose vital threats to coastal communities, including increased risks to human health and safety and damage to property, infrastructure, and ecosystems. Economic impacts include evacuation and emergency response costs, infrastructure repair costs, and in some instances community rebuilding costs. Using site planning and design that incorporates natural materials and nature-based systems, landscape architects play a critical role in helping coastal communities address the impacts of sea-level rise and increased storm surges, which are a result of our changing climate.

Background & Analysis

On December 1, 2017, Congressman Frank Pallone Jr. (NJ) introduced H.R. 4525, the Living Shorelines Act of 2017. The measure would promote the use of natural infrastructure to help protect coastal communities from the rising threats of climate change, including increased storm intensity and frequency, increased flooding, and sea-level rise.

Specifically, the measure would create a federal grant program to assist states, localities, and nongovernmental organizations in developing and constructing infrastructure projects that mitigate the effects of shoreline erosion by incorporating natural and organic materials such as wetland plants, aquatic vegetation, oysters and other shellfish, and native grasses, shrubs, and trees.

The bill would establish the Living Shorelines grant program administered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Priority will be given to projects that are to be conducted in areas where a natural disaster has occurred in the previous 10-year period. Recipients of grants will be required to monitor, collect, and transmit data on living shoreline projects and may use grant funds for these purposes.

On June 19, 2018, Senators Kamala Harris (CA) and Chris Murphy (CT) introduced S. 3087, Senate companion legislation to the House of Representatives measure.


Congressman Frank Pallone Jr. (NJ) and cosponsors.
Senators Kamala Harris (CA), Chris Murphy (CT) and cosponsors

Current Status  

H.R. 4525 was referred to the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Power, and Oceans, where it is awaiting further action. S. 3087 was referred to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.


In the aftermath of major hurricanes and superstorms, including Hurricanes Harvey and Katrina, Superstorm Sandy, and others, the United States has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in evacuation, cleanup, and rebuilding efforts. The Living Shoreline Act will promote the use of nature-based systems and materials, which can help coastal communities address climate-related events and rebuilding efforts in a more resilient and cost-effective manner.


Smart Policies for a Changing Climate
Congressional Climate Solutions Caucus
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration—Climate
The Paris Agreement—United Nations Climate Change

EPA: Climate Change in Coastal Communities
EPA: Green Infrastructure and Coastal Resiliency
NOAA: Protecting Coastal Communities
The Nature Conservancy: Coastal Resilience
Harris, Murphy Introduce Bill to Help Communities Protect Their Coasts

Related ASLA Public Policies

Environmental Sustainability
Coastal Zones
Water Quality and Conservation
Nonnative Species


ASLA Government Affairs