Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Coastkeeper Report: Our Changing Coastline


David Prescott
South County Coastkeeper
Over the past several years, we have had our mix of intense tropical storms, floods, and nor’easters. While the impact of Superstorm Sandy was felt all along the southern coast of Rhode Island, by far the worst damage was felt in the town of Westerly and the community of Misquamicut. 
Since Sandy, strong coastal storms continue to besiege the area, exposing the vulnerability of our shoreline community. How prepared are we for a future with intense and more frequent storms? 

Save The Bay advocates for a long-term strategy to adapt to the ever-present reality of rising seas and accelerating coastal erosion, while protecting natural beauty, ecological health, and public access along the shore. That is why Save The Bay is participating in the Shoreline Change Special Area Management Plan (Beach SAMP) that is being developed by the Coastal Resources Management Council, the Coastal Resources Center, and Rhode Island Sea Grant.

Image courtesy of SAMP
Save The Bay envisions a long-term strategy that includes studying all available options, not just rebuilding. As the community recovers from coastal damage, the options of retreat, abandonment, and the raising of structures must be clearly considered. We are sympathetic to the plight of residents and businesses directly impacted by Sandy and other coastal storms; however, it is our role to protect the coast from poorly planned and shortsighted shoreline development.

There is no question that our climate is changing. These changes will impact everyone-not just people living along the coast. We must understand what is at risk and how we can live in harmony with nature. It is essential that we educate ourselves about the science and risks of our constantly changing shoreline. Save The Bay will continue to proactively work with state agencies and local communities on a sustainable, long-term plan that is based on the best available science, while addressing the challenges that lie ahead.

Do you want to learn more or get involved? Visit beachsamp.org  to learn about upcoming meetings and discussions and how you can take part in the public stakeholder process of the Shoreline Change SAMP.

- Dave

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