By Nicole Faghin, Washington Sea Grant
When Washington Sea Grant and the Washington Department of Ecology embarked on the Washington Coastal Resilience Project (WCRP) in 2016, we wanted to know how we could rapidly increase local governments’ ability to support coastal resilience to sea level rise and climate change.
The project team recognized we not only needed good science and effective state guidance-- we also needed to test out ideas for resilience planning and communication with local communities. The City of Tacoma and Island County offered to be those pilot communities, providing a larger urban environment and a more rural county, respectively, to look at what support might be needed to address coastal flooding and erosion hazards exacerbated by future conditions. This became the basis for “Objective 3” of the WCRP, and we've been working with local governments in a few ways.
By Paul Cereghino, NOAA Restoration Center
In our green coastal crescent, around a billion liters of water falls on every square kilometer of land. It would form a waist-deep lake to the horizon, if it didn’t run to the sea. In the mountains, the deluge would cover over our heads, but it is caught in snowfields, glaciers and forests, recharging over a dozen montane rivers that have given us salmon to eat since time before memory. The ocean gives us a lot to work with.
It used to be that almost all the rain went into the ground, bubbling up in springs, or pooling in wetlands and beaver ponds. But we’ve been altering this system by cutting forests and draining swamps for six or seven generations. Now our population is growing by 100,000 people every three to four years, surging with in-migration from other parts of the country. The fate of the landscape rests in a spaghetti pile of local, state, and federal authorities, rules, rights, and regulations that try to protect the stream habitats that produce salmon. We call the area of greatest influence on streams and rivers the “riparian zone,” which NRC defines as:
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