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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.

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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 — 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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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 — City of Austin, Texas: Flood Risk Reduction Buyout Projects

July 15, 2020

The City of Austin, Texas has adopted a model to provide consistent relocation benefits for voluntary home buyouts in the city’s floodplains as a part of its “flood risk reduction projects.” In addition to the cost of a person’s original home, the city will provide homeowners with moving and closing costs, and a replacement housing payment if the cost of a new comparable home (located outside of the city’s 100-year floodplain) is more than the original home. This policy encourages owner participation in the buyout program and helps to minimize the economic and social costs of relocation. The city’s Watershed Protection Department prioritizes buyouts in accordance with a Watershed Protection Master Plan that strategically guides related city actions, including potential buyouts, to reduce the risks associated with erosion, flooding, and poor water quality. A mix of municipal bonds, federal grants, and local funds (primarily through a drainage fee paid by owners of properties based upon impervious surface cover) have been used to fund the buyouts. Austin’s example is noteworthy for its emphasis on implementing buyouts in accordance with a comprehensive flood mitigation program and facilitating transitions for people located in floodplains through relocation assistance. Other jurisdictions considering managed retreat could implement an interdisciplinary buyout approach across different sectors and government agencies (e.g., floodplain and emergency management and housing and community development). .

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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.

Related Organizations: National Audubon Society, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS)

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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 — Quinault Indian Nation, Washington: Taholah Village Relocation Master Plan

July 15, 2020

Quinault Indian Nation (QIN), a federally recognized tribe located in Washington state, is currently implementing a phased relocation plan as part of a managed retreat strategy in response to the impacts of sea-level rise, flooding, and concerns about the increased likelihood of tsunamis and storm surges attributed to climate change. In 2017, QIN adopted the Taholah Village Relocation Master Plan that outlines a vision and development plan for relocating a portion of QIN living in the Lower Village of Taholah to a higher ground location in the Upper Village Relocation Area. The Master Plan contains eleven chapters covering the history and the need to relocate, goals and principles of the plan, and different aspects of the Upper Village blueprint including appropriate community facilities, housing, infrastructure, culture, sustainability, and resilience. It also sets forth implementation steps for the project through phasing, necessary regulatory changes, and funding. QIN developed the Master Plan with significant community input. The community engagement processes and sustainable planning strategies can provide transferable lessons for other state and local jurisdictions considering similar questions of strategic planning for coastal retreat and relocation, even on a smaller scale. 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.

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Managing the Retreat from Rising Seas — Queens, New York: Resilient Edgemere Community Plan

July 15, 2020

After Hurricane Sandy, New York City (NYC) engaged in a community-driven planning process and implemented multiple voluntary relocation projects in the Edgemere neighborhood of Queens to reduce flood risks and move people out of harm’s way after Hurricane Sandy. The NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) launched the Resilient Edgemere Community Planning Initiative in October 2015 as a collaboration between city agencies, community members, elected officials, and local organizations. The Resilient Edgemere Community Plan lays out a long-term vision for achieving a more resilient neighborhood with improved housing, transportation access, and neighborhood amenities. One of the 65 distinct projects included in the plan was a “land swap” pilot project to provide buyout and relocation assistance to residents within a “Hazard Mitigation Zone” (HMZ), an area of Edgemere at risk of destructive wave action during storms. Through the land swap pilot project, Edgemere residents within a HMZ were eligible to receive a newly built, elevated home on safer ground. In exchange, residents would transfer title of their damaged, original homes to the city. The plan is notable for being developed through an 18-month public engagement process that placed residents, who best understand their community, at the center of an open and transparent neighborhood planning process. Resilient Edgemere can provide an example of how local governments can transition affected residents away from vulnerable areas by helping people relocate nearby and simultaneously build community resilience and help to maintain community cohesion and local tax bases. 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.

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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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