Kitsap County Social Marketing Campaign to remove shoreline armor

The county believes bulkheads (Shoreline Armoring) deprives beaches of their natural sources of sediment and can degrade the ecological functions of the shoreline. The cumulative impact of numerous bulkheads along a reach of shoreline may be long-term, irreversible loss of habitat and increased erosion on the property of others. Kitsap Shoreline Booklet 

The County proposes to spend a $366,000 Bulkhead Removal Marketing Grant from the state Department of Fish and Wildlife to convince 5 shoreline owners to remove their bulkheads.

The purpose of the grant is to persuade 5 homeowners to remove their bulkheads, and substitute a soft bulkhead. Out of a $366,000 grant, $105, 000 goes to the county, $87, 500 goes to Futurewise, $41, 000 goes to Wasgington Sea Grant, $62,000 goes to Geo Tech Surveyors and at best $14,000 goes to an individual home owner. 

“When landowners enter into cost share agreements, they will be required to sign a Landowner Agreement with Kitsap County for a period of ten years from the completion date, which includes construction and monitoring, as well as requirements to maintain any buffer plantings and other project performance measures. Shore stewards will be offered and included in long term maintenance assistance.”

The mitigation rules for this bulkhead removal program have not been written, however this action enables the implementation of the New Kitsap County Shoreline Master Program (SMP). Current homeowners have their property grandfathered; Current structures, boathouses, and landscaping setbacks and that you have in place are considered conforming until an action such as this triggers the new SMP Rules.

Assuming the mitigation requirements will conform to the New SMP here are some issues the homeowner should consider carefully prior to embarking on the program.

1. If you go through with the program your decision is permanent

“Mitigation requirements shall run with the parcel, and notice of such requirements shall be recorded as a Notice to Title. Mitigation as conditioned under project approval shall be maintained in perpetuity, except where authorized through review of an alternative mitigation plan.” (22.400.110.C)

“New structural stabilization measures shall not be allowed except when necessity is demonstrated in the following manner:

To protect legally existing primary structures:

New or enlarged structural shoreline stabilization measures for the existing primary structure, including residences and their primary appurtenant structures or uses, shall not be allowed unless there is conclusive evidence, documented by a geotechnical analysis, that the lawfully established, primary structure is in imminent danger from shoreline erosion caused by tidal actions, currents, or waves;” (22.600.175.D.2.c.i.1)

 2.The Bulkhead removal permit triggers additional SMP Provisions

Vegetative Buffers (22.400.120)

“Vegetation conservation buffers provide a means to conserve, protect and restore shoreline vegetation in order to provide for ecological and habitat functions as well as human health and safety. Buffers shall consist of a non-clearing area established to protect the integrity, functions and values of the affected critical area or shoreline”

Vegetative Buffer Setbacks (22.400.120)

  1. High Intensity: 50 feet
  2. Shoreline Residential: 85 feet
  3. Urban Conservancy: 100 feet
  4. Rural Conservancy: 130 feet
  5. Natural: 200 feet

3.Any mitigation plan requires monitoring and reports

“Kitsap County shall require monitoring reports on an annual basis for a minimum of five years and up to ten years, or until mitigation success is demonstrated through at least two consecutive monitoring reports. The mitigation plan shall provide specific criteria for monitoring the mitigation project. Results and additional conditions shall be electronically tagged to the parcel for future reference.” (22.400.110.C)

This may require the owner to pay for and post an Assurance Bond, Allowing county inspectors access to your property

4. Any property lost through erosion can not be replaced

The county sees this program as a natural way to feed the beach with sediment. The Property owners see bulkheads as a means of protecting property from waves and erosion. Feeding sediment to the beach results in permanant loss of front yard.

“Shoreline stabilization measures shall not be for the purpose of creating dry land. Leveling or extending property, creating or preserving residential lawns, yards or landscaping shall not be allowed except when other otherwise allowed in this section due to health and safety”. (22.600.175.1.f)

5. Removes a more or less permanent hard structure and substitutes a temporary wood structure that will need to be replace in 20-30 years.


The purpose of this project is to pilot and test Category 2 (armored properties with no to moderate erosion risk) social marketing strategies in 2 locations in Kitsap County to motivate shoreline armor removal within priority drift cells. Within the period of the grant, the key objective is to successfully have at least 5 shoreline property owners in the process of removing armor and/or replacement with soft shore protection and many more considering removal.

Kitsap County, Futurewise and Washington SeaGrant are the partners working together on this project. Kitsap County will use local knowledge and research to determine priority shorelines, and will seek to identify and improve the permit processes for shoreline armor removal within its Department of Community Development. Futurewise will take the lead on the social marketing, materials and media development, community outreach including demonstration site tours, and influencer outreach. SeaGrant will lead the Shore Ambassador component of the project, including direct landowner outreach, developing relationships with property owners with potential for armor removal/replacement and assist with the barriers identification and refinement.

Task 1: Project Plan and Performance Evaluation. Kitsap County $ 11,103 Complete a detailed project plan and performance evaluation plan. Evaluate success of the project as outlined in the performance evaluation plan, and produce a final project evaluation report.

Task 2: Progress Reports. Kitsap County $ 3973 Complete bi-annual FEATS progress reports, as well as a draft final FEATS report and final project narrative report.

Task 3: Social Marketing Campaign Development and Deployment. Futurewise $ 87,546, Washington Sea Grant $41,138

The social marketing campaign will include:

  • Outreach and branding: Futurewise Create Shore Friendly outreach materials, conduct outreach at community events, work with local nurseries to create “Shore Friendly” sections of appropriate native plants, create signage, and other activities for the West Sound broader area. The project and outreach materials will be also coordinated with the West Central LIO and the Hood Canal Coordinating Council, which include representatives from the city and county jurisdictions, and tribes.
  • Earned media and testimonials: Futurewise Create and implement a media plan to generate feature articles in local media.
  • Demonstration boat tours: Futurewise Conduct at least 3 boat tours which will include visits to demonstration sites as well as provide education about shoreline processes and the benefits of armor removal. First priority will be given to shoreline landowners in target pilot areas. Boat tours will be videotaped for outreach/webpage use afterwards.
  • Shore Friendly ambassadors: Washington SeaGrant Work with a team of selected Kitsap watershed stewards to become Shore Friendly ambassadors who will provide one‐to‐one outreach to landowners in pilot areas. Train Shore Friendly ambassadors in social marketing messaging and approach and permit writing. Ambassadors will provide direct education and outreach to landowners marketing the campaign (and explaining incentives), and help landowners through the permit process. They will maintain contact with their selected landowners through the entire process of armor removal and/or installation of soft shore protection.

Task 4: Financial Incentives and Permit Streamlining Kitsap County $85,478 Home Owners $70,000

This task includes:

  • Offering financial incentives: Test what specific levels of cash incentive are needed to motivate participation by landowners. Provide up to $70,000 for cash-share grants for landowners. Cash-share grants will be provided through a tiered system in which greater participation by multiple neighbors will net them larger grants. When landowners enter into cost share agreements, they will be required to sign a Landowner Agreement with Kitsap County for a period of ten years from the completion date, which includes construction and monitoring, as well as requirements to maintain any buffer plantings and other project performance measures. Shore stewards will be offered and included in long term maintenance assistance.
  • Streamlined permitting: This part of the work builds off of the TACT grant which has identified and focused on correcting internal problems in the bulkhead permit system. This project focuses on the external (customer) perspective. Engage Kitsap County planners and technicians who process the permits for armor removal projects. Hire a part time staff person who will work directly with permit processing staff to identify bottlenecks and challenge points unique to shoreline armor removal and soft shore protection installation.

 Task 5: Site Technical Assistance (Erosion Assessments, Geotechnical Assessments). Kitsap County $4216, Technical Contractors $62, 000

This task includes:

  • Free erosion assessments: Offer free erosion assessments to landowners (who meet program criteria, including expressed interest in moving forward) in the pilot areas. A qualified geotechnical professional will be selected through a competitive RFP process and will be trained in the specifics of the social marketing campaign and approaches.
  • Reach scale geotechnical assistance: Provide geotechnical assistance at free or reduced cost, on a case by case basis, for a limited number of sites. Priority will be given when several adjacent parcel owners show genuine interest.

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