Award-Winning Training Prepares Rhode Island for Rising Hazards

The Takeaway: A course and outreach events, aided by the Narragansett Bay Research Reserve, help coastal officials consider resilience planning and check off state-mandated adaptation training.

Rhode Island’s sea levels could crest five feet or more above current levels by 2100. Fortunately an online training, Providing Resilience Education for Planning in Rhode Island, or PREP-RI, helps coastal planning boards and commissioners grasp the problem and consider adaptation strategies. The course already has motivated the Town of Portsmouth to start an adaptation planning process. Staff members from the Narragansett Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve are part of the team that helped design and deliver the training.

That team also is expanding outreach to 21 communities, guiding officials through the modules, and holding public meetings that help community members discuss local hazards and adaptation strategies.

Protecting coastal assets from hazards is a fundamental economic issue for the “Ocean State.” In 2016 Rhode Island’s ocean economy garnered more than $2.8 billion in gross domestic product and resulted in $1.3 billion in wages, according to a NOAA economic report.

The Rhode Island chapter of the American Planning Association gave PREP-RI a “current topic” award for its ease of use by planning boards and commissioners, who are required by the state to take two hours of coastal adaptation training.

“PREP-RI is exactly what we need to launch a statewide comprehensive training program for land use decision makers,” says Lauren H. Carson, a representative in the Rhode Island General Assembly. Several other New England states are interested in customizing the modules for their own use.

The Town of Portsmouth sought and received an adaptation planning grant from the state’s Municipal Resilience Program. Additional training team members come from Rhode Island Sea Grant and the University Of Rhode Island Coastal Resources Center. (2019)

More Information: PREP-RI training

Partners: Narragansett Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, Rhode Island Sea Grant, University of Rhode Island Coastal Resources Center