Coastal and Marine Protected Areas as Catalysts for Adaptation Action

Coastal and Marine Protected Areas as Catalysts for Adaptation Action

Lauren Wenzel
NOAA Marine Protected Areas Center
Time Slot: 
Concurrent Sessions 8
Session Type: 

Coastal and marine protected areas are actively engaged in assessing and implementing climate adaptation strategies. These areas are natural test-beds for adaptation: they are cross-sectoral, involving representatives of many different sectors in decision-making; they rely on science-based decision-making; they incorporate monitoring into project design for assessment; and they engage the public – emphasizing that climate change is impacting coastal and ocean resources, communities and businesses now and that strategic action is needed. This session will feature speed presentations from USFWS National Wildlife Refuges, USFWS Coastal Program, NOAA’s Climate Program Office, and NOAA’s National Marine Sanctuaries. The primary focus will be a discussion with the audience addressing:
● How can we encourage more cross-sectoral information-sharing to inform adaptation implementation?
● How can we work more effectively at the landscape scale to better align urban and suburban adaptation efforts with work within marine and coastal protected areas?
● How can we bring in new partners to help us address new climate impacts and adaptation challenges?
● As natural resource managers, what is our role in addressing large-scale changes that may be climate-driven?

Natural resource managers, urban planners, practitioners, scientists, etc., are invited to join this lively and interactive session on marine and coastal protected area adaptation efforts. The goal is to share lessons and experiences from coastal and marine protected areas and better align community and protected area adaptation actions. This session will be linked to sessions by EcoAdapt on Rapid Vulnerability Assessment and by NOAA Climate Program Office on coastal adaptation.


Keeping Up with Rising Waters: Adaptation to Sea Level Rise in National Wildlife Refuges
Scot Covington, USFWS
hide abstract

The US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has more than 185 coastal National Wildlife Refuges (NWRs), most of which are being impacted by relative sea level rise (RSLR) and associated impacts of storms and the surges they produce. Like the FWS’s Coastal Program, the National Wildlife Refuge System is working to reduce and address habitat loss and infrastructure damage on NWRs. For example, surveys by the National Wetlands Inventory report that the U.S. lost over 34,000 hectares of salt marsh habitats from 2004-09, the most recent statistic available. While most of these losses occurred outside refuges, this illustrates the profound changes occurring in coastal habitat, which directly impacts the amount of carbon sequestered (i.e., “blue carbon”). To illustrate one approach to address RSLR and storm surge impacts, we evaluated three coastal refuges’ (Seal Beach, CA; Prime Hook, DE; John Chaffee, RI) actions (i.e., thin layer deposition) tailored to respond to these threats, how the treatments responded and provide a summary of “lessons learned”.

Coastal Adaptation Makes Sense --- and Dollars
Samantha Brooke, USFWS
hide abstract

Coastal environments are critical to our both our nation’s economy and resources: over 50% of the nation’s population lives or works in coastal communities, and they are also home to 85% of migratory waterfowl, 45% of federally listed species, and 75% of fish and shellfish. There is a growing recognition that nature-based solutions play an important role in protecting coastal communities and infrastructure. Since 2002, the US Fish and Wildlife Service Coastal Program has worked with thousands of partners to design over 4,000 habitat improvement projects. Through our high leveraging ratio we bring non-federal resources to the table and enlist partner support to achieve shared conservation goals. Projects implemented by the Coastal Program consider not only benefits to fish, wildlife, and their habitats, but broader social and economic outcomes. Examples include replacement of culverts, improvement of tidal restrictions, barrier island/reef restoration, wetland restoration/protection, and living shorelines. These projects have important measurable economic benefits as well as perceived benefits that are not achieved in isolation. Benefits include flood attenuation, improvements to air/water quality, physical/mental gains (nearby outdoors), connectivity to marine areas and related reductions to sedimentation and nutrient impacts.

Kelp Catastrophe: A community-based approach to recover a lost critical coastal habitat
Sara Hutto, Greater Farallones Association
Supporting Climate Adaptation and Natural Resource Management Through Partnerships and Engagement Activities
Adrienne Antoine, NOAA Climate Program Office
hide abstract

The NOAA Climate Program Office, Climate and Societal Interactions (CSI) Division supports applied research and engagement efforts to improve the resilience of key socio-economic regions and sectors throughout the US. The goal is to integrate climate-related information into planning and management decisions in support of NOAA's vision to create and sustain enhanced resilience in ecosystems, communities, and economies.

With more than half of the US population living within 50 miles of the coast, CSI’s coastal portfolio supports coastal adaptation and resilience by working with decision-makers, resource managers and stakeholders to address climate related challenges. A key component of the portfolio is partnerships and engagement. Through participatory processes, network building, and workshops; stakeholders and decision makers from different sectors, organizations, and agencies co-produce with scientists the knowledge, tools, and information needed to plan for and adapt to changing climate conditions. These partnerships and engagement activities not only support planning and preparedness, but also ensure feedback from decision maker groups inform research. Drawing on highlights and lessons learned improves understanding of the role and value of partnerships and engagement activities in coastal adaptation and resilience efforts.

When Heritage and Livelihood Depend on/Clash with Adaptation: Stories from a Florida Fishing Community
Lily Swanbrow Becker, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
hide abstract

Cedar Key is a small commercial fishing community nestled along Florida’s northern Gulf Coast. The small island is home to fewer than 800 residents and represents a rich slice of “old Florida,” popular with visitors drawn to its sleepy, small-town culture. Although an increasingly popular tourist destination, Cedar Key has remained a working waterfront community throughout its history. Residents deeply dependent on the town’s fishing industry have also proven to be resilience. A statewide ban on large-scale net fishing in the mid-1990’s devastated the local economy, but a government retraining program helped local fishing families embrace clam aquaculture, which is now a multimillion-dollar industry. The city has also been repeatedly ravaged by hurricanes, from Hurricane Easy in 1950 to Hurricane Elena in 1985 to Hurricane Hermine in 2016. We will examine attitudes and perspectives on climate change adaptation and resilience from commercial fisherman in Cedar Key and other small fishing communities in Florida, in the context of a cyclical history of economic and environment collapse followed by rebuilding. Through telling the story of multi-generational fishing families in Cedar Key, Florida, we will aim to better understand the deep conflicts and struggles small coastal communities face as they weigh fragile economies dependent on environmental health against the imminent need to adapt to a changing climate.