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CA case studies on natural shoreline infrastructure for coastal resilience: NEW from NOAA, TNC, Point Blue and ESA

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November, 2017 by Jenna Judge, NOAA Sentinal Site Cooperative (reprinted from an email)

Case Studies of Natural Shoreline Infrastructure in California,” conducted with support from California’s Fourth Climate Change Assessment and led by Jenna Judge of the NOAA Sentinel Site Cooperative, in partnership with The Nature Conservancy, Point Blue, and Environmental Science Associates.

Sea level rise and associated flooding will threaten nearly $100 billion worth of property along the California coast by 2100, and there is no question that coastal landowners and planners will act to protect their assets from these losses. In the absence of compelling reasons or guidance to do otherwise, they will overwhelmingly default to the industry standard – specifically, the construction of coastal armoring (seawalls, revetments, dikes, and levees).

An alternative to coastal armoring is natural infrastructure, which has been shown to be a cost-effective approach to mitigating risk of floods, storms and sea level rise in many places. Natural infrastructure enhances the ability of natural systems to respond to sea level rise and migrate landward, ensuring their survival. In turn, these systems provide co-benefits for coastal communities: coastal ecosystems can serve as protective buffers against sea level rise and storm events while continuing to provide access, recreation opportunities, and other social benefits.

Jenner Headlands, by Ryan DiGaudio, Point BlueJenner Headlands, Sonoma County, CA. Photo by Ryan DiGaudio/Point Blue

In spite of the well-known advantages of natural infrastructure, property owners continue to default to coastal armoring to protect their assets. There are a number of obstacles in deploying natural infrastructure that result in this preference for coastal armoring, but among them is a documented lack of familiarity with what natural infrastructure is and how it works.

This detailed case studies report is designed to fill this awareness gap. The case studies, highlighting projects ranging from sediment augmentation in Seal Beach to dune restoration in Humboldt, are designed to give coastal managers a sense of the breadth of approaches to coastal adaptation and what it takes to plan, permit, implement, and monitor them.

The report can be accessed here (pdf).

[NOTE: Point Blue scientists are also collaboratively addressing coastal resilience on a national scale with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, NOAA, US Army Corps of Engineers, the National Environmental Modeling and Analysis Center, and NatureServe.  We are addressing questions such as: How do we know which coastal species and which habitats will be most threatened by climate change impacts? Where will restoration and other habitat enhancement projects also benefit human communities?

On December 13th and 14th we’re helping to bring coastal managers and stakeholders together to identify vulnerable species and areas, missing data sets, and priority restoration areas. Learn more here. Help us spread the word by sharing with coastal stakeholders you know.]


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