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Managing the Retreat from Rising Seas — Hampton, New Hampshire: Community-Driven Climate Adaptation Planning Process

July 15, 2020

The coastal town of Hampton, New Hampshire has identified the need for long-term climate adaptation planning to address the impacts of sea-level rise and improve community resilience to coastal flooding through a state-local, public-private partnership. This ongoing adaptation planning process that started in 2018 is being led by the Seabrook–Hamptons Estuary Alliance (SHEA) — a local conservation nonprofit — with support from others including the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services Coastal Program (NH Coastal Program) and town officials and staff. The approach taken by SHEA and the NH Coastal Program offers a unique example of community-driven, multifaceted planning focused on informing and educating the community through a series of workshops and surveys to gauge awareness and opinions across a range of different adaptation strategies. The adaptation strategies presented to the community for consideration include: protection (“keep water out”), accommodation (“live with water”), and managed retreat or relocation (“get out of the water’s way”). The results of these efforts are being used to inform local actions going forward. Policymakers and planners in other municipalities may find Hampton’s work instructive for how to increase awareness of the benefits and tradeoffs of retreat across a spectrum of adaptation strategies at the outset of community-driven, public-private decisionmaking processes. This case study is one of 17 case studies featured in a report written by the Georgetown Climate Center, Managing the Retreat from Rising Seas: Lessons and Tools from 17 Case Studies.

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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Managing the Retreat from Rising Seas — Staten Island, New York: Oakwood Beach Buyout Committee and Program

July 15, 2020

Following Hurricane Sandy in 2012, Oakwood Beach on Staten Island in New York City became the first community to take advantage of New York State’s post-Sandy buyout program to plan for retreat in a model that could be replicated in other vulnerable coastal locations. The members of the small community formed the Oakwood Beach Buyout Committee, and petitioned the state government to buy out entire neighborhoods, which resulted in large-scale risk reduction and cost-saving benefits compared to individual buyouts. Less than three months after Sandy, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a state-funded buyout program, pledging upwards of $200 million in funding and financial incentives to relocate families in high flood risk areas in places like Oakwood Beach. One year later, 184 out of 185 homeowners applied to the program — and by 2015, 180 of those homeowners were accepted to participate in the state’s voluntary buyout program. This process can serve as an example of a successful, community-led voluntary buyout effort that can be supported by state and local government retreat programs or projects in other jurisdictions. This case study is one of 17 case studies featured in a report written by the Georgetown Climate Center, Managing the Retreat from Rising Seas: Lessons and Tools from 17 Case Studies.

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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Managing the Retreat from Rising Seas — Woodbridge Township, New Jersey: Post-Hurricane Sandy Buyouts

July 15, 2020

Woodbridge Township, New Jersey is working with the New Jersey Blue Acres Program to implement a neighborhood-wide buyout that can serve as an example for other jurisdictions considering larger-scale retreat from coastal areas. Following significant damage from Hurricane Sandy in 2012, Woodbridge applied to participate in the New Jersey Blue Acres Buyout Program. With the support of the state, local elected officials in Woodbridge, including the mayor, committed to a community-based approach and prioritized flood mitigation and future safety and emergency management benefits over potential tax base losses if residents relocated outside of the township. As a result of this approach and an extensive community engagement process, nearly 200 property owners accepted a buyout offer. Once structures are demolished, the township is restoring bought-out land to create a natural flood buffer. The township established an Open Space Conservation/Resiliency Zone to institutionalize protections for this area by prohibiting new development and discouraging redevelopment. Woodbridge’s example demonstrates how comprehensive, community-based approaches to buyouts can maximize long-term benefits for communities and the environment. Other local governments can consider partnering with their states and residents, among others, to use buyouts as a retreat strategy to make communities more resilient. This case study is one of 17 case studies featured in a report written by the Georgetown Climate Center, Managing the Retreat from Rising Seas: Lessons and Tools from 17 Case Studies.

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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Managing the Retreat from Rising Seas — Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, Maryland: Blackwater 2100

2013

In 2013, The Conservation Fund, National Audubon Society, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service partnered to produce a “salt marsh persistence” report for Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) titled Blackwater 2100 to address marsh migration in response to sea-level rise and tidal erosion. The objectives of the report are to identify areas of current tidal marsh most resilient to sea-level rise and of the highest value to salt marsh bird species as well as future locations that may support marsh migration corridors. The report’s authors utilized several tools, including the Sea-Level Rise Affecting Marshes Model (SLAMM), to select one of three different adaptation strategies for wetland areas within Blackwater NWR to create a comprehensive management plan. The three adaptation strategies include: (1) in-place restoration actions targeted at improving existing tidal marsh health and productivity; (2) strategic conservation in priority marsh migration corridors; and (3) actions supporting the transition of uplands into marsh. Blackwater 2100 can provide a useful example for natural resources, open space, and coastal managers to plan for minimizing coastal habitat loss due to sea-level rise by evaluating the tradeoffs of different adaptation strategies; and building partnerships with stakeholder groups and the community to examine marsh migration on an ecosystem scale that necessitates public and private land acquisitions and involvement. This case study is one of 17 case studies featured in a report written by the Georgetown Climate Center, Managing the Retreat from Rising Seas: Lessons and Tools from 17 Case Studies.

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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Managing the Retreat from Rising Seas — State of Hawaii: Assessing the Feasibility and Implications of Managed Retreat Strategies for Vulnerable Coastal Areas in Hawaii

February 2019

In February 2019, the State of Hawaii Office of Planning, Coastal Zone Management Program (CZMP), published a report: Assessing the Feasibility and Implications of Managed Retreat Strategies for Vulnerable Coastal Areas in Hawaii (report). CZMP drafted the report in response to a request for the state to evaluate the potential for a managed retreat program in Hawaii. In developing the report, CZMP designed and implemented a three-phased approach that consisted of conducting background research; evaluating how retreat could apply in four different area typologies; and convening an interdisciplinary symposium to engage experts and stakeholders. As a result, CZMP concluded that it is not currently possible for Hawaii to develop a step-by-step plan to implement managed retreat for areas in the state threatened by sea-level rise and other coastal hazards; however, the report contains recommendations for potential next steps, including assembling an interdisciplinary committee to work towards achieving a statewide consensus about a managed retreat vision and efforts to formulate a retreat strategy. Both Hawaii’s three-phased approach and the final report provide helpful examples of how one state designed and implemented a comprehensive process led by its CZMP to evaluate the potential for retreat. This case study is one of 17 case studies featured in a report written by the Georgetown Climate Center, Managing the Retreat from Rising Seas: Lessons and Tools from 17 Case Studies.

 

Resource Category: Planning

 

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Managing the Retreat from Rising Seas — San Diego, California: ReWild Mission Bay

July 15, 2020

In San Diego, California, the city and various stakeholders are evaluating different land-use and planning alternatives to conserve and restore migrating wetlands in Mission Bay as a part of local decisionmaking processes. To conserve and restore Mission Bay, San Diego Audubon and other partners started an initiative called “ReWild Mission Bay” that evaluated different alternatives for protecting wetlands through a feasibility study. One of the feasibility study’s alternatives aims to relocate Campland on the Bay, an existing RV campground on land owned by the city, inland. By moving Campland on the Bay inland, the city could address wetland migration while providing community resilience and environmental benefits. The alternative to relocate the location for Campland on the Bay, if implemented, would be aligned with and build on other local planning efforts to convert a part of the surrounding Mission Bay Park into a regional amenity that accommodates both public and private uses. In July 2019, the San Diego City Council approved a lease extension and expansion for Campland on the Bay that has delayed any potential implementation of the ReWild Mission Bay wetland alternatives until after the term of the lease expires. The ongoing work in Mission Bay can serve as an example for other coastal jurisdictions addressing the tradeoffs raised in land-use and planning efforts for coastal retreat and the challenges that can arise in balancing competing stakeholder interests to achieve both human and environmental priorities. ReWild Mission Bay also shows how nongovernmental stakeholders can conduct planning processes to help government agencies make decisions about long-term land uses and restoration activities. This case study is one of 17 case studies featured in a report written by the Georgetown Climate Center, Managing the Retreat from Rising Seas: Lessons and Tools from 17 Case Studies.

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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Rhode Island Coastal Setbacks and Coastal Buffer Zones

November 29, 2017

Rhode Island, under the Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC), mandates erosion-oriented setbacks and Coastal Buffer Zones (Rhode Island Administrative Code 650 20-00-1. 1, Adopted November 2017). The Rhode Island CRMC is the state’s regulatory coastal management agency. These regulations better protect structures and conserve important coastal ecosystems by determining setbacks and buffers based on accelerating rates of sea-level rise and erosion. Setbacks are based on average annual rates of erosion as measured on localized, property-scale maps.

Resource Category: Law and Governance

 

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Big Sur Land Trust—Carmel River Floodplain Restoration and Environmental Enhancement Project (Carmel FREE)

January 2020

The Big Sur Land Trust in partnership with the County of Monterey is leading implementation of the Carmel River Floodplain Restoration and Environmental Enhancement (Carmel FREE) project that will restore habitat and reduce flood risks in the lower Carmel River watershed. The project will use nature-based approaches to reduce flood risks to nearby properties by restoring the natural river corridor and habitats. Old levees in need of maintenance along the River will be removed to allow restoration of the natural floodplain, which will improve water quality and habitats, and recharge groundwater. A new causeway bridge for Highway 1 will be built to restore hydrological connectivity and facilitate restoration of wetlands on the project site that are adjacent to the Carmel Lagoon. Additionally, new trails will be constructed throughout the project site to create recreational amenities for residents. These activities are anticipated to restore approximately 100 acres of wetlands and other habitats delivering environmental benefits and also enhancing flood resilience from sea-level rise and more frequent storms for businesses and residents in the Carmel Valley. This project demonstrates how public-private partnerships with land trusts can be used to facilitate land acquisitions and support ecosystem-based restoration projects. 

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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Making California’s Coast Resilient to Sea-Level Rise: Principles for Aligned State Action

April 2020

Co-developed by numerous state and regional agencies, Making California’s Coast Resilient to Sea-Level Rise: Principles for Aligned State Action is an outline of six principles for coordinated planning and adaptation around sea-level rise (SLR) in the state of California. The principles call for all supporting agencies to adopt a minimum SLR estimate of 3.5 feet by 2050. This assumption aligns with concerns expressed in the 2009 California Climate Adaptation Strategy that SLR will occur more quickly and severely than had originally been anticipated (new estimates anticipate California’s SLR reaching 7 feet or more by 2100). The principles include goals and objectives for agencies to implement resilience projects; use high-quality science; build resilience-based partnerships and communication networks; align policies across agencies; and support local resilience efforts. The guidelines aim to ensure that all of the state’s management, decisionmaking, and regulatory activities are “guided by a common, clear, and fundamental vision” to increase California’s coastal resilience and better adapt and prepare for climate change impacts.

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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Managing the Retreat from Rising Seas — Punta Gorda, Florida: Climate Adaptation and Comprehensive Plans and Updates

July 15, 2020

The harborside city of Punta Gorda, Florida has responded to the threat of coastal storms and climate change impacts with two different plans - a Climate Adaptation Plan and a local comprehensive plan - to promote, manage, and protect the city’s natural resources and plan for development in a way that minimizes risks to people and property and conserves ecosystems. The Adaptation Plan is unique because it was developed through a “citizen-driven process” designed to identify effective local responses to climate change and includes a variety of adaptation options that enjoy broad community support, including managed retreat or “planned relocation.” The city incorporated the Climate Adaptation Plan into its comprehensive plan to ensure that climate change is considered in land-use decisionmaking efforts. In 2019, the city released an update to its Adaptation Plan that identifies the city’s progress to date and future adaptation actions the city could consider implementing. Punta Gorda provides a useful example of how effective community engagement can enhance adaptation planning and build community support for managed retreat strategies and how adaptation plans can be used to inform future land-use decisions to ensure safer, more resilient development. This case study is one of 17 case studies featured in a report written by the Georgetown Climate Center, Managing the Retreat from Rising Seas: Lessons and Tools from 17 Case Studies.

 

Resource Category: Planning

 

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