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Managing the Retreat from Rising Seas — King County, Washington: Transfer of Development Rights Program

July 15, 2020

The King County Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) Program in Washington State uses a unique market-based tool to achieve long-term planning goals and incentivize development in strategic areas that can be coupled with other legal and policy tools as a part of comprehensive coastal retreat strategies. King County created the TDR Program in response to state growth area management requirements and objectives. Participating local governments designate two areas "sending areas" — typically farmland, forest, open space, or priority natural resources areas — where they want to limit new development; and "receiving areas" in mostly urban areas where existing services and infrastructure can accommodate growth. Landowners in sending areas can sell their development rights to project proponents in receiving areas who can then use those rights to increase the size or density of a development project. Between 2000 and July 2019, 144,290 acres of rural and resource lands were conserved and protected through the King County TDR Program. The King County TDR Program provides one example of how several types of land acquisition programs and funding sources can be leveraged to achieve the benefits of both conservation and new, more resilient development. In a managed retreat context, TDR Programs modeled after King County can be used to preserve lands for ecological benefits through conservation easements, while ensuring new development is concentrated in areas that are less vulnerable to flooding and coastal hazards, such as sea-level rise and storm surges. 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: Law and Governance

 

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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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Maryland GreenPrint and Program Open Space

Through GreenPrint and Program Open Space, the State of Maryland has established a set of land conservation and acquisition data tools and programs to protect open space, environmental resources, and rural lands to meet statewide ecological objectives. The tools and programs are used to help the state adapt to climate change by removing barriers to the inland migration of coastal ecosystems in response to impacts like sea-level rise and land loss. Specifically, a statewide mapping tool called Maryland GreenPrint, which displays lands and watersheds of high ecological value, supports prioritized and transparent decision making, and increased resilience for vulnerable coastal habitats.

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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Florida Forever Land Acquisition Program

In 1999, the Florida Legislature passed the Florida Forever Act that established the Florida Forever land acquisition and protection program. The Florida Forever program serves as the state’s blueprint for conservation of natural resources. Through the Florida Forever program, the state is implementing effective land acquisition and preservation strategies supported by mapping tools and ecological data that help the state conduct scientific review and establish conservation priorities based upon climate change risks. Florida’s state legislature prioritized climate change considerations in the Florida Forever Act (Florida Stat. ch. 259.105(17)(d) (2018)) by requiring the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Division of State Lands to evaluate lands for acquisition based on their potential benefits to sequester carbon or adapt to climate change impacts, among other criteria. Florida Forever can serve as an example of how other governments and partners can incorporate climate change into land acquisition programs to enhance adaptation and natural resource conservation. 

Resource Category: Law and Governance

 

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Land Acquisition and Restoration Projects in the Greens Bayou Watershed in Harris County, Texas: Greens WetBank and Bayou Greenways 2020

In Texas, Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD) and other local partners, including the nonprofit Houston Parks Board, are implementing different land acquisition, restoration, and conservation projects in the Greens Bayou watershed in Harris County and the City of Houston. Two programs and initiatives include the Greens Bayou Mitigation Bank (Greens WetBank) and Bayou Greenways 2020. The Greens WetBank is a wetland mitigation bank on nearly 1,000 acres of land in Harris County, where HCFCD restores wetlands and generates revenue by selling “wetland credits” to developers who need to offset wetland losses at locations outside the Greens WetBank’s land in Harris County. In addition, Bayou Greenways 2020 is a large-scale, public-private initiative led by Houston Parks Board to create 150 miles of greenways and trails and an additional 3,000 acres of public greenspace along Houston’s major bayous through land acquisition and conservation efforts. Bayou Greenways 2020 has been the result of an extensive community engagement campaign and funding leveraged from federal, state, local, and private sources to create local parks and open spaces in Houston. Greens WetBank and Bayou Greenways 2020 are examples of how comprehensive land acquisition, restoration, and conservation actions can increase local resilience in a specific watershed by mitigating future flood risks, enhancing the environment, and creating community assets. Other jurisdictions could consider a similar model to coordinate future land uses in a watershed with climate adaptation, including managed retreat strategies, hazard reduction, and natural resource and open space management. 

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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Yankeetown, Florida Natural Resource Adaptation Action Area

The Town of Yankeetown, Florida is utilizing a state authorized land-use planning tool  called Adaptation Action Areas  to mitigate the impacts of sea-level rise on local ecosystems. Specifically, Yankeetown is experiencing coastal inundation due to sea-level rise that is causing large swaths of coastal forests to rapidly decline and salt marshes to migrate inland, creating a phenomenon known as “ghost forests.” Yankeetown has taken a unique approach to planning for coastal change by utilizing Adaptation Action Areas. Adaptation Action Areas are overlay districts local governments can utilize to increase management attention and oversight over defined areas within their municipality with the goal of increasing resilience to sea-level rise impacts. Yankeetown amended its local comprehensive plan to create a “Natural Resource Adaptation Action Area,” which is the first instance of a locality in Florida using this tool for the purpose of natural resource management rather than solely infrastructure protection. The tool is helping Yankeetown shape future growth and development to conserve and protect its natural resources in the face of rising seas. Local governments could consider adopting overlay districts like Adaptation Action Areas or other zoning, land-use, or planning tools to reduce or limit development in wetland and forest migration pathways as a part of comprehensive retreat strategies. 

Resource Category: Law and Governance

 

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Massachusetts Audubon Mapping and Prioritizing Parcels for Resilience Tool

2018

Massachusetts Audubon Society (Mass Audubon), the largest non-profit in the state protecting over 38,000 acres of land and habitats, partnered with The Nature Conservancy and LandVest in 2016 to create the Mapping and Prioritizing Parcels for Resilience (MAPPR) Tool. MAPPR includes mapping layers that can help policymakers and conservationists select specific geographic areas (e. g. , town, county, watershed) within the state and identify parcels of land that, if protected, would maximize environmental and community benefits.

Resource Category: Data and tools

 

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The Nature Conservancy Resilient Coastal Sites for Conservation in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic

2017

In 2017, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) released a report and interactive web map that identify priority sites in the northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions that have the ability to maximize both biodiversity and natural services in response to increasing threats of sea level rise. TNC, in partnership with a variety of stakeholders and scientists from other nonprofit organizations, universities, and state and federal agencies, conducted a two-year study to evaluate more than 10,000 individual sites throughout the region.

Resource Category: Data and tools

 

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Maryland Senate Bill 457: Resilience Authorities

May 8, 2020

Passed on May 8, 2020, Maryland’s Senate Bill 457 authorizes local governments to establish and fund a Resilience Authority under local law, outlines the requirements to do so, and specifies the powers local governments may grant to an Authority. A Resilience Authority enables a local jurisdiction to flexibly organize funding structures for and manage large-scale infrastructure projects specifically aimed at addressing the effects of climate change, including sea-level rise, flooding, increased precipitation, erosion, and heatwaves.

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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