Between the Public and the Private Interest: The Interrelationship of Intermediary Roles of Environmental Nonprofits in Coastal Resilience

Published date01 November 2022
Date01 November 2022
Subject MatterArticles
Administration & Society
2022, Vol. 54(10) 2048 –2074
© The Author(s) 2022
Article reuse guidelines:
DOI: 10.1177/00953997221112293
Between the Public
and the Private Interest:
The Interrelationship
of Intermediary Roles
of Environmental
Nonprofits in Coastal
Marina Saitgalina1, Juita-Elena Yusuf1,
and Taiwo Olanrewaju-Lasisi1
Government regulators cannot mitigate the loss of wetlands and coastal
erosion alone. Nonprofits, uniquely situated between coastal property
owners with personal interests and governments with regulatory interests,
are positioned to mediate the interests of different parties while considering
local context and individual circumstances. However, it is unclear what roles
environmental nonprofits play within the network of actors. This study asks:
(1) What roles do environmental nonprofit organizations play in local stakeholder
network arrangements for wetlands conservation and shoreline management?
(2) How are these roles interrelated? We use two frameworks describing the
roles of nonprofits to examine the roles of environmental nonprofits within
the network of actors that seek to mitigate loss of wetlands and coastal
erosion by focusing on living shorelines as shoreline management solutions
utilizing natural and nature-based features. We show how these roles are
1Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA, USA
Corresponding Author:
Marina Saitgalina, School of Public Service, Strome College of Business, Old Dominion
University, 2096 Constant Hall, Norfolk, VA 23529, USA.
1112293AAS0010.1177/00953997221112293Administration & SocietySaitgalina et al.
Saitgalina et al. 2049
interrelated to provide context for how government can leverage nonprofits
in achieving regulatory outcomes.
environmental nonprofit organizations, shoreline management, intermediary,
coastal resilience, public services
Sea level rise and environmental deterioration along the coast is a concern in
the U.S. and worldwide. Stakeholders from across multiple sectors, including
government authorities, residents, private contractors, and environmental
nonprofit organizations, seek ways to help individuals and communities be
sustainable and resilient in the face of sea level rise and its impacts.
Governments are actively engaged in policy and management efforts to pro-
tect wetlands and reduce shoreline erosion, particularly through natural and
nature-based solutions. Local, state, and federal governmental agencies in the
U.S. have implemented public policy and regulation to manage shorelines
such as by encouraging the use of living shorelines (Bilkovic et al., 2016;
Pace, 2017; Spidalieri, 2020). Living shorelines, the shoreline management
approach that is the focus of our research, are created or enhanced shorelines
that use strategic placement of plants, stone, sand fill, and other materials to
reduce shoreline erosion and maintain or improve habitat and water quality
(Bilkovic et al., 2016). They offer a way to protect development and property
while mitigating the loss of wetlands.
A preference for living shorelines is embedded within most state and local
permitting and planning requirements. Virginia—the case study site for our
research—implemented specific permitting processes to expedite and priori-
tize living shoreline projects (Bilkovic et al., 2016; Currin et al., 2010; Pace,
2017), most recently adopting legislative requirements (Code of Virginia
§28.2-104.1) for living shorelines as the preferred method for managing ero-
sion. At the locality level, zoning ordinances and planning regulations offer a
way to encourage living shorelines (Spidalieri, 2020).
However, government cannot achieve the goals of shoreline manage-
ment and wetlands conservation alone; other groups of stakeholders rang-
ing from property owners, shoreline contractors, community leaders, and
nonprofit organizations contribute to these efforts. The nonprofit sector has
long been engaged in environmental stewardship and sustainability.
Nonprofit organizations are a part of the network of actors engaged in
coastal resilience efforts such as those associated with wetlands conserva-
tion. Lor (2006) suggests that environmental groups play diverse roles of

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