Many coastal communities are facing hard decisions and tradeoffs about how to protect their coastlines while planning for the realities of climate change, particularly sea level rise. This is certainly not a one-size-fits all problem, and decision-makers and community members are asking “what can our community do to prepare for climate change, do we have any options, and how much will it cost?”
In Grays Harbor County we have been working closely with a Knowledge-to-Action-Network (KTAN) of local stakeholders to develop four distinct policy scenarios to explore in Envision (Figure 1). Each of these policies has different rules for important coastal decisions, like where and when to build backshore protection structures, whether beach access can be preserved, whether moving structures away from the coastline is feasible, and whether “green” coastal protection strategies can be implemented. Under the four policies there are different triggers for development (like where a new home can be placed), and for coastal protection strategies (like whether a house can be protected by riprap or a dune). Under these four policy scenarios, our KTAN can explore how different metrics of importance, like number of homes impacted by flooding change under low, medium and high sea level rise now and over the next century.
The result is a collaborative, iterative policy planning exercise that helps local decision-makers explore different coastal adaptation strategies, and discuss what might best fit their community’s needs. The model is designed to illicit feedback and discussion, since many tradeoffs go into the policies and require local knowledge and expertise. This process is ongoing in Grays Harbor County (Figure 2), and our next in-person stakeholder meeting to discuss the initial policy scenario