Through the 2019 National Coastal Resilience Fund, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation is investing $29 million to restore and expand natural systems such as coastal marshes, dunes, reefs, and mangroves. In addition to improving natural habitat, these natural systems store and filter water, providing communities with additional flood protection and improved water quality. Projects funded through the program also benefit communities by improving recreational opportunities and assessing and responding to vulnerabilities. NOAA’s Office for Coastal Management (OCM) is a managing partner in this competitive grant program focused on habitat rehabilitation and risk reduction.
A new data delivery tool, OceanReports, helps people find the right location for new ocean projects and avoid user conflicts. The comprehensive, user-friendly tool is revolutionizing the way ocean data are analyzed and delivered. Users pinpoint their area of interest and gain quick access to over one hundred pertinent data sets covering a wide range of information, from natural resources to location points for shipping lanes and infrastructure. A variety of individuals and groups working within the blue economy — private industry, government agencies, and conservation organizations — are saving a significant amount of time and money by using the tool. Other benefits include reduced permitting timelines, increased transparency, and improved management of U.S. ocean space. OceanReports is a joint project among OCM, NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.
The global blue economy is projected to double in size by 2030, and NOAA is developing a new model to understand and measure U.S. contributions to it. This new set of statistics, called the Experimental Ocean Economy Satellite Account, will provide first-of-its-kind data about the country’s ocean economy. With this information, government agencies and private industry can better evaluate and grow ocean, coast, and Great Lakes-dependent businesses. OCM and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis are jointly working on this endeavor.
Communities in Alaska face a changing climate that is intensifying in storms, floods, and coastal erosion. One way to address these challenges is through the use of green infrastructure. To offer assistance in regards to this approach, OCM delivered its “Introducing Green Infrastructure for Coastal Resilience” course to local and state officials. After trainings in Homer and Anchorage, Alaska, the City of Homer’s Planning Commission moved to prioritize green infrastructure in their annual work plan. By doing so, commission members are laying the groundwork needed to revise local codes related to green infrastructure. Additionally, the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation is using OCM’s training materials to request proposals for their Alaska Clean Water Actions initiative.
In total, over 1,500 coastal professionals across the country were trained in OCM’s instructor-led courses this year. Each course works to build the skills communities need to address climate impacts.
In the past, the state of Georgia’s Coastal Management Program did not have a federally approved nonpoint pollution control program. That recently changed, as NOAA and the Environmental Protection Agency signed off on the program in response to recently enacted changes.
Georgia developed enforceable programs to reduce polluted runoff, including runoff from urban development and agriculture sources. A key achievement was the creation of a Coastal Stormwater Supplement to the Stormwater Management Manual, which provides Georgia’s coastal communities with comprehensive guidance on an integrated, green infrastructure-based approach to natural resource protection, stormwater management, and site design. With this approval, the state is able to maintain full Coastal Zone Management Act funding rather than face a potential financial penalty that would affect overall operations.
OCM coordinated with estuarine research reserves and Coastal Zone Management (CZM) programs in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina to identify needs and increase awareness of, and access to, relevant NOAA resources in response to Hurricane Dorian. Through the online Digital Coast platform, OCM provided resources that states and the public used to assess risk and vulnerability, including two popular tools: the Sea Level Rise Viewer and Historical Hurricane Tracks. In the days leading up to Hurricane Dorian’s forecasted landfall, these tools experienced traffic three times and five times higher (respectively) than the same time period last year.