U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Climate Ready Estuaries Program

Created: 3/29/2010 - Updated: 10/28/2021

Summary

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Climate Ready Estuaries Program works to build capacity in National Estuary Programs to prepare for and respond to climate change. Twenty-seven National Estuary Programs received grants and/or technical assistance from 2008–2018. The Climate Ready Estuaries Program also created several tools to support managers, scientists, and other stakeholders in U.S. estuaries.

Background

The Climate Ready Estuaries Program (CRE) was created by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2008. CRE provides technical assistance and funding to National Estuary Programs (NEPs) throughout the United States. In addition to direct support, the CRE provides resources for managers and other stakeholders, including information on climate change impacts, access to tools and resources, and information to help managers develop adaptation plans, including the Coastal Toolkit and Adaptation Planning Workbook.

Implementation

From 2008–2018, the CRE Program provided support to 27 NEPs through grants and technical assistance either for start-up projects or to build upon existing work. Technical assistance occurred in the form of tailored support provided by EPA staff and contractors, such as climate change vulnerability assessments, habitat modeling, monitoring plan development, and stakeholder engagement and communication. For example, the support provided to the Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary Partnership was used to host public listening sessions and conduct interviews with local decision-makers in North Carolina on sea-level rise risks and adaptation options. The findings were used to produce a Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan to provide a framework for initiatives related to climate change and sea-level rise. Assistance has also been provided to:

  • Barataria-Terrebonne NEP (Louisiana)
  • Barnegat Bay Partnership (New Jersey)
  • Buzzards Bay NEP (Massachusetts)
  • Casco Bay Estuary Partnership (Maine)
  • Charlotte Harbor NEP (Florida)
  • Coastal Bend Bays and Estuaries Program (Texas)
  • Delaware Center for the Inland Bays (Delaware)
  • Indian River Lagoon NEP (Florida)
  • Long Island Sound Study (Connecticut, New York)
  • Lower Columbia Estuary Partnership (Washington, Oregon)
  • Maryland Coastal Bays Program (Maryland)
  • Massachusetts Bays Program (Massachusetts)
  • Mobile Bay NEP (Alabama)
  • Morro Bay NEP (California)
  • Narragansett Bay Estuary Program (Rhode Island)
  • New York-New Jersey Harbor & Estuary Program (New York, New Jersey)
  • Partnership for the Delaware Estuary (Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey)
  • Peconic Estuary Program (New York)
  • Piscataqua Region Estuaries Partnership (New Hampshire)
  • Puget Sound Partnership (Washington)
  • San Francisco Estuary Partnership (California)
  • San Juan Bay Estuary Program (Puerto Rico)
  • Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission (California)
  • Sarasota Bay Estuary Program (Florida)
  • Tampa Bay Estuary Program (Florida)
  • Tillamook Estuaries Partnership (Oregon)

CRE created the Coastal Toolkit website to provide links to reports, tools, and other resources, such as the National Climate Assessment, to support climate-informed decision-making. In August 2014, CRE released Being Prepared for Climate Change: A Workbook for Developing Risk-Based Adaptation Plans (Adaptation Planning Workbook) along with an online companion tool that guides users through an adaptation decision-making framework. The San Juan Bay Estuary Program used the workbook to identify critical climate risks and vulnerabilities, especially those driven by warming water temperatures, sea-level rise, and extreme storms, and develop adaptation strategies such as restoring dunes, maintaining stormwater and wastewater systems, and engaging restaurants on the proper disposal of oil and grease. A complementary tool––Checklists of Potential Climate Change Risks ––was released in April 2021.

Outcomes and Conclusions

The CRE Program has funded projects to conduct vulnerability assessments (e.g., Barnegat Bay, Casco Bay), develop and implement adaptation plans (e.g., Indian River Lagoon, San Francisco), and increase education and awareness of the public and other stakeholders (e.g., Albemarle-Pamlico, Charlotte Harbor). CRE continues to provide support to NEP managers through technical assistance and tool development.

Resources:
Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary Partnership Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (2012-2022)
EPA Climate Ready Estuaries
EPA Coastal Adaptation Toolkit
San Juan Bay Estuary Climate Change Adaptation Plan

Status

Information gathered from interviews and online resources. Last updated on 8/21.

Citation

Gregg, R. M. (2021). U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Climate Ready Estuaries Program [Case study on a project of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency]. Version 2.0. Product of EcoAdapt's State of Adaptation Program. (Last updated August 2021)

Project Contact(s)

The Environmental Protection Agency has ten Regional offices, each of which is responsible for the execution of the Agency's programs within several states and territories.

The Climate Ready Estuaries program works with the National Estuary Programs and the coastal management community to:

  1. Assess climate change vulnerabilities,
  2. Develop and implement adaptation strategies, and
  3. Engage and educate stakeholders.

CRE shares NEP examples to help other coastal managers, and provides technical guidance and assistance about climate change adaptation.

Keywords

Scale of Project
Climate Type
Timeframe
Sociopolitical Setting
Effort Stage

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Adaptation Phase
Awareness
Assessment
Planning
Implementation
Integration/Mainstream
Evaluation
Sharing Lessons
Sector Addressed
Biodiversity
Climate Justice
Conservation / Restoration
Culture/communities
Disaster Risk Management
Education / Outreach
Fisheries
Land Use Planning
Policy
Research
Rural / Indigenous Livelihoods
Transportation / Infrastructure
Water Resources
Wildlife
Read more