Coastal Resilience Yankee Style

Apr 27, 2022

One region, three Reserves, three ways of working on climate resilience. Across New England, communities are struggling with the impacts of climate change, and the Coastal Training Programs (CTP) at the Great Bay, Wells, and Narragansett Bay Reserves are there to help.

Climate change affects every New Englander, from Bar Harbor to Bridgeport, though communities often experience it in different ways. Solutions to challenges like flooding and erosion need to be within reach and compatible with community culture. In New England, Reserve Coastal Training Programs are meeting people where they’re at. Here’s how:

Maine: The Wells Reserve’s Social Resilience Project is a partnership working to strengthen connections between the emergency management, conservation, social service, and municipal sectors to help them better prepare for, respond to, and recover from storms. The project also aims to better serve residents whose circumstances make them more vulnerable to storm impacts. 

The team recently hosted the Midcoast Maine Workshop to Improve Community Resilience to Coastal Hazards. Drawing more than 60 people from midcoast Maine towns and organizations, the workshop was an opportunity to participate in a scenario planning activity for storm response. Objectives were to better understand the needs of socially vulnerable populations and to explore ways to improve planning, response, and recovery.

“We started by engaging local stakeholders,” says a member of the project team. “They helped us identify challenges their communities are facing in addressing climate change impacts.” 

Rhode Island: With support from the Narragansett Bay Reserve, a neighborhood group in Portsmouth Rhode island—the Common Fence Point Preparedness Committee—is tackling their top resilience priorities.

The Reserve hosted a Community Building Resilience Workshop in the Common Fence Point neighborhood, helping participants reach a consensus regarding priority issues and actions for their community. It drew attention from town staff and officials who later began work on mitigating flooding on the neighborhood’s primary entrance and exit point.

Today, the community group holds numerous educational forums and recently secured funding for coastal resilience projects for salt marsh restoration and shoreline stabilization.

New Hampshire: The Great Bay Reserve is facilitating the Great Bay Living Shoreline Project, a design and training process involving 24 consultants, agency professionals, and researchers. The initiative is generating recommendations for the shoreline at four different sites, allowing participants to build their skills and advance the use of living shoreline concepts in this region.

“Participating in the Great Bay Living Shorelines Project was an exciting way to collaborate with other local professionals,” says Jessica Hunt, an associate in the Environmental Services at Stantec. “We now have the background to assist with the pipeline of living shorelines projects around the New Hampshire seacoast, and to incorporate living shoreline concepts into existing and future projects that may otherwise have deferred to gray infrastructure.”

NERRA is proud to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Coastal Zone Management Act—the legislation that led to the creation of the National Estuarine Research Reserve System. Want more Reserve stories delivered to your inbox? Subscribe to our newsletter.

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