Friday, October 30, 2015

Surfers' Point case study

Surfers' Point serves as a case study in a recently published paper, “Factors Influencing Local Decisions to Use Habitats to Protect Coastal Communities from Hazards.”  Researchers at Scripps Institute of Oceanography examined the processes by which three projects using "Natural Infrastructure"(NI) were implemented.   The complete document is available online at Ocean and Coastal Management.

The three cases are:

  • Ferry Point Park Living Shoreline, Queen Anne's County, MD
  • Surfer's Point Managed Retreat, Ventura, CA
  •  Durant's Point Living Shoreline, Dare County, NC

In all three cases, the recognition of a need to address shoreline erosion and associated coastal flood hazards was a starting point for the projects. Each project involved multiple stakeholders through formal and informal decision making processes. For instance, the design of each project involved engineers as well as stakeholders. Similarly, each process had to be permitted by local, state, and sometime federal agencies. At the time of these projects, all three states at least implicitly recommended or preferred NI and non-structural solutions to coastal erosion, but the permitting process was still more cumbersome for NI than for gray infrastructure (i.e. concrete seawalls) and gray infrastructure continued to be the most commonly chosen option.

The researchers identified common influences on decisions to use habitats for coastal protection. In each case, "innovators" who perceived that the benefits of natural infrastructure outweighed the costs served as champions for habitat-based approach over "gray infrastructure."  Common to each case was the use of visuals and trusted persons to influence decision makers.  For instance, conceptual illustrations were used to communicate the approach, and licensed engineers were able to provide technical support for the new or experimental approach.

The results suggest that some of the biggest policy opportunities may be at the state level, rather than the national level, and the MD Living Shoreline Protection Act provides an important model for state-level natural infrastructure policy.  This suggests that conservation scientists and practitioners should specifically focus on replicating the MD Living Shoreline Protection Act in other states as appropriate, building the capacity of engineers and government scientists to develop standards to design and evaluate NI in order to support community decisions, and to continue to develop and deploy decision support tools such as

More on this blog:

Dana Kochnowera (a,b), Sheila M.W. Reddy (b), Reinhard E. Flick (c), Factors influencing local decisions to use habitats to protect coastal communities from hazards, Ocean & Coastal Management, Volume 116, November 2015, Pages 277–290

a. Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093-0208, USA
b. Office of the Chief Scientist, The Nature Conservancy, 334 Blackwell Street, Suite 300, Durham, NC 27701-2394, USA
c. California Department of Parks and Recreation, Division of Boating and Waterways, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, CA 92093-0209, USA