Leaders in Nature Based Shoreline Solutions Gather in Galveston

By Daniel Hayden

Men standing in a conference center
Left to Right – Bob Stokes (GBF), John Huffman (USFWS), Daniel Hayden RAE), Philip Smith (GBF)

It was an energizing two days at the 2023 Living Shorelines Tech Transfer Workshop, co-hosted by Restore America’s Estuaries and the Galveston Bay Foundation. I was delighted to speak with, learn from, and engage with more than 250 of the nation’s leading practitioners, policy makers, and stakeholders gathered in Galveston.

Looking out from the stage, I felt a wave of optimism for the future of innovation and development of nature based shoreline solutions and stabilization in our nation’s coastal communities. It was also an honor to share the opening session with my good friend, Bob Stokes, Executive Director of GBF, and John Huffman, USFWS, Chief of Branch of Habitat Restoration. 

The threats to our coasts have never been greater. The list of benefits estuaries provide both people and nature are long and critical in their own way – from protecting communities from storms and flooding to providing economic opportunities through commerce, commercial fishing, and tourism.

In addition to two days of learning, attendees had the opportunity to spend some time in the field. The multiple field trips provided an opportunity for participants to get up close and personal with coastal habitat restoration in Galveston Bay and learn about the threats, opportunities, and practices that have worked in the region.

The shared experience in the field was a reminder of how unique our estuaries from region to region are and yet how much they have in common and how much we can learn from one another. These opportunities also inspire in us what’s truly possible through the power of partnerships and the exchange of information.

young people posing for a photo in a conference center
Scholarship recipients from the 2023 Living Shorelines Workshop

We were also fortunate, with the support of the Island Foundation and other sponsors, to offer scholarships to more than 15 students and early career professionals to attend this year’s Workshop free of cost. Events like these present the opportunity to foster career defining relationships that not only shape the pathway for young people but also their attendance expands the breadth and perspective of our audience.

Events like these are not possible without the commitment of so many organizations and so many gifted individuals. Our program committee represented more than a dozen organizations and the expertise from the private sector, academia, NGOs, and state and federal agencies. We also deeply appreciate the financial and technical support of our lead our sponsors U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

While we only had two days together, I am certain that the ideas, relationships and energy from the Workshop will help move the science and practice of living shorelines forward in our work for years to come.

Daniel Hayden
President & CEO
Restore America’s Estuaries