Preparing for the Storm: Recommendations for Management of Risk from Coastal Hazards in Massachusetts

Launched by the Romney Administration and the state legislature in 2006, the role of the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management's Coastal Hazards Commission (CHC) is to review existing coastal hazards practices and policies, identify data and information gaps, and make recommendations for administrative, regulatory, and statutory changes. The Commission released this report to summarize its findings after it reviewed coastal hazards associated with sea-level rise, hurricanes, northeasters and reduced sediment supply; moreover, it evaluated existing policies, potential knowledge gaps, and developed potential adaptation policies.

This resource is intended to guide decision makers conducting site-specific analysis of protection alternatives. Recommendations are organized into four categories: hazard information; policy; planning and regulations; and protection, each with numerous proposed solutions. For instance, improving coastal hazard information includes working with FEMA to modernize Flood Insurance Rate Maps, obtaining data on sea-level rise and erosion risks, developing LIDAR data, and creating a coastal hazards data clearinghouse. Specific policy options are described to manage the impact of sea-level rise and flooding including using state funding to acquire conservation easements or storm-prone properties, using hazard mitigation planning to improve resiliency and lower flood insurance rates, updating state building codes, improving interagency consideration of coastal construction permits, and developing a cost-benefit analysis framework for evaluating potential shoreline protection projects. For each recommendation, the lead federal or state agency is designated, as well as next steps (obtain funding is the common refrain).

Appendix B  contains a list of coastal hazards data and tools organized into four categories: mitigation planning, storm monitoring, response and recovery, and public outreach.

Appendix C provides an analysis of potential benefits and impacts of protection strategies.


Publication Date: May 2007

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  • Legal Analysis
  • Policy analysis/recommendations

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