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CRMC, URI introducing Beach SAMP tools to coastal communities

November 30, 2015, WAKEFIELD – The Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC), along with the University of Rhode Island Coastal Resources Center and R.I. Sea Grant, is meeting with southern Rhode Island coastal communities to demonstrate a suite of tools for coastal adaptation and resilience planning as part of the ongoing Shoreline Change Special Area Management Plan (Beach SAMP) effort. In addition, the CRMC and URI team are discussing implementation of these tools to address sea level rise, coastal erosion and coastal flood inundation.

CRMC and the SAMP team thus far have visited Block Island, Narragansett, North Kingstown, Westerly and Charlestown to present the decision-makers in these towns with a number of planning tools, including STORMTOOLS, and potential municipal adaptation actions to address storm events, erosion and coastal resilience. STORMTOOLS is a comprehensive mapping tool designed to help homeowners and municipalities better understand their risks from coastal storms and flooding, and plan for the realities of sea level rise. It now features a set of data layers for municipalities– http://www.beachsamp.org/resources/stormtools/.

CRMC staff has also been visiting coastal towns to present STORMTOOLS to members of the public, as well as neighborhood and other interest groups. Presentations have been made at the North Kingstown library, at the Community College of Rhode Island, Bristol Library, and to the Environmental Business Council, with more planned as needed. A highlight of these sessions has been the demonstration of the “STORMTOOLS for Beginners” feature that allows residents to input their street address and view maps of sea level rise and storm impacts for their specific location.

In addition to the mapping tools, municipalities have also been encouraged to examine an overview of strategies for addressing the impacts of storms and sea level rise (view the powerpoint here: http://www.beachsamp.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/muni_adaptation_strategy.pdf ), and a webinar on steps to building resilience through planning actions– http://www.beachsamp.org/2015/07/24/municipal-webinar-resilient-communities-model-process/ . The guidance will be crucial for Rhode Island’s coastal cities and towns– Rhode Island Statewide Planning now requires them to address climate adaptation in community comprehensive plans.

As part of the ongoing training and outreach to coastal municipalities, the CRMC has also been involved with the Rhode Island Green Infrastructure Project (GRIP), an effort funded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation that is focused on using green infrastructure tools and techniques to address issues related to stormwater and coastal flooding from storm surge and sea level rise. As part of this effort, designs will be created for demonstration projects in three communities: Newport, North Kingstown and Warwick.

This project is the logical continuation of coastal resilience and adaptation work CRMC has conducted with Save The Bay over the last five years with funding from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. As part of this effort, Save The Bay worked closely with seven coastal communities to implement 16 individual shoreline adaptation projects. These projects addressed impacts from coastal flooding and erosion by removing or relocating damaged public infrastructure, such as broken pavement, and replacing it with vegetation and stormwater management practices.

The CRMC, URI CRC and Save The Bay have also been very successful in getting the public involved in documenting high tide and storm events in real-time using the MyCoast app, developed for New England by the Seattle based company Blue Urchin Digital, in partnership with the Northeast Regional Ocean Council (NROC) -http://mycoast.org/ri. The app allows people to take pictures with their smart phones and upload them to the MyCoast website, which adds information on the location, time of day, and weather and tidal conditions at the user’s location. These data points have been a useful tool for ground-truthing the maps of projected coastal flood conditions in STORMTOOLS, which have been shown to match up very well with actual high tide flood events.

 

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