Modeling Shoreline Suitability for Applying Nature-Based Infrastructure in Maine

abstract background image with blue overlay


Development pressure, rising sea levels, and increasing storms are eroding beaches and coastal bluffs throughout Maine. The state’s coastal management program is seeking to increase community resilience and reduce risk to people, infrastructure, and habitat from coastal flooding and erosion, while maintaining and enhancing coastal ecosystem function through successful application of nature-based coastal infrastructure.


The Maine Geological Survey worked directly with several partners to develop a nature-based coastal infrastructure site-suitability model, which includes attributes such as shoreline type, bluff condition, nearshore bathymetry, fetch, aspect, and the presence of special habitats. After scoring shoreline reaches based on the suitability model, planners used oblique imagery to identify and verify sites exhibiting coastal bluff or marsh-edge erosion.


The geospatial model and resulting maps helped identify several sites within Casco Bay where varying forms of nature-based infrastructure implementation projects would likely succeed and provide the necessary protection and ecosystem service benefits. Initial development occurred in Casco Bay, Maine, and is being expanded to other geographic regions in the state, including the beach and dune environment. New Hampshire’s NOAA Coastal Management Fellow is also using Maine’s work as a basis for adapting the suitability tool for use along the New Hampshire coastline. This information, developed through a NOAA regional coastal resilience grant and a project of special merit, helps position Maine to participate in another coastal resilience grant with other New England states and the Nature Conservancy. This further work would pursue standardized implementation projects meeting the community and ecosystem benefit goals determined by the partners through earlier work. (2018)

Coastal oblique imagery used to map living shoreline suitability in Casco Bay, Maine
Mapped potential living shoreline suitability scores of Casco Bay, Maine