Are Washington capital grant programs explicitly addressing climate change and sea level rise issues?
By Felicia Olmeta-Schult, Washington Sea Grant State Fellow at Washington Dept. of Ecology, Shorelands & Environmental Assistance Program
We reviewed the list of grant programs funded under the 2017-2019 State Capital Budget and 2018 Supplemental Budget. Programs were selected based on the language used within their description and mission statement. This effort resulted in a baseline inventory of 60 capital grant programs potentially funding projects in areas vulnerable to sea level rise (SLR). However, this list may not be exhaustive.
We then assessed if the programs funding guidelines did mention or not terms such as sea level rise and climate change. Of the 60 programs, we found four which included climate and sea level rise language within their funding guidelines:
Capital improvements often represent the most significant investments made by the state and communities. Capital projects are expensive because they are planned, designed, and built to have long-term life spans. However, SLR assessment and alternatives are currently not required by the state. This can be problematic because these facilities and infrastructure serve essential functions for communities and if damaged or out of service, could have catastrophic consequences (direct and indirect).
State capital grant programs provide a key role in carrying out a range of construction activities along our coast such as: habitat restoration and protection, recreation opportunities, and critical facilities and infrastructure. State agencies acknowledge that these grant programs could have an influential role in promoting or incentivizing proactive risk reduction. Some have already started to explore these opportunities by including pilot language in funding guidance, others have shown similar interest. However, there are many questions about what methods would be most effective in achieving the desired results and helpful to applicants. This project is intended to identify options for program managers based on lessons learned in Washington and other coastal states.
The goals of this project are:
Ultimately, outcomes from this project will help protect the vitality and increase the resiliency of coastal public investments and the coastal environment.
We just started conducting interviews with programs managers involved in these four programs. We will also interview managers of programs which did not have climate change and sea level rise language in their funding guidelines. In addition, we would like to talk with project managers who have used this language in their proposal when applying to capital grant programs.
Questions or suggestions?
Contact me (email@example.com) or Bobbak Talebi, Senior Coastal Planner at Washington State Dept. of Ecology (firstname.lastname@example.org), and we’ll be happy to inform you about our project into more details.
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