Rhode Island Newspaper Lauds Coastal Management Program as Environmental Leader

Rhode Island has a new weapon to use in its efforts to address sea level rise, storm surge, and erosion, says the Providence Journal. By logging on to www.beachsamp.org, people can see how their community, or a specific property, might be impacted during a severe storm and in conjunction with sea level rise of up to five feet.

The models that supply this information are more precise than those used by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and take into account newer climate change predictions. Shoreline erosion maps are also available, as well as updated information about salt marsh losses.

This tool is part of a larger effort by the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council and the University of Rhode Island and Rhode Island Sea Grant to address coastline change caused by storm surge and rising sea levels. The effort is helping cities and towns identify areas most vulnerable to flooding and providing useful information to coastal homeowners.

A particular focus is Washington County, which the agency expects to be hit particularly hard by the effects of climate change. Planning, of course, is just half the battle. Prevention efforts could range from revising building codes and moving historic properties to shortening the design life of infrastructure projects. Some homeowners may choose to retrofit houses for greater resilience. Others may elect to move away from threatened areas. Many commercial establishments will have to make similar calculations.

Grover Fugate, director of the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council, says that with 400 miles of coastline, Rhode Island cannot afford to ignore the implications of climate change. “We’re the most vulnerable state in New England.” With respect to planning, Fugate says Rhode Island is in many ways ahead of the curve. Preparing for the long-term effects of climate change, however, requires continuous commitment, along with a willingness to adapt as new information arises. NOAA supports the Coastal Resources Management Council through its National Coastal Zone Management Program partnership.

Partners: NOAA, Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council, Rhode Island Sea Grant