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

Created: 3/29/2010 - Updated: 8/27/2021


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.


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.


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.

Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary Partnership Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (2012-2022)
Being Prepared for Climate Change: A Workbook for Developing Risk-Based Adaptation Plans
Being Prepared for Climate Change: Checklists of Potential Climate Change Risks
Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment for San Juan Bay, Puerto Rico 
EPA Climate Ready Estuaries
EPA Coastal Adaptation Toolkit
San Juan Bay Estuary Climate Change Adaptation Plan


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


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.


Scale of Project
National / Federal
Sector Addressed
Conservation / Restoration
Development (socioeconomic)
Transportation / Infrastructure
Target Climate Changes and Impacts
Culture / communities
Fishery harvest
Habitat extent
Infrastructure damage
Phenological shifts
Range shifts
Salinization / Saltwater intrusion
Sea level rise
Species of concern
Storms or extreme weather events
Water quality
Water supply
Water temperature
Climate Type
Type of Adaptation Action/Strategy
Natural Resource Management / Conservation
Incorporate future conditions into natural resources planning and policies
Incorporate climate change into critical habitat rules / species recovery plans
Enhance migration corridors and other connectivity measures
Design protected areas or lands to allow inland, altitudinal, or latitudinal movement
Capacity Building
Design or reform institutions
Increase organizational capacity
Coordinate planning and management
Increase / Improve public awareness, education, and outreach efforts
Conduct / Gather additional research, data, and products
Conduct vulnerability assessments and studies
Host adaptation training or planning workshop
Conduct scenario planning exercise
Monitor climate change impacts and adaptation efficacy
Infrastructure, Planning, and Development
Infrastructure retrofitting and improvements
Stormwater systems: retrofitting and improvements
Create or modify shoreline management measures
Develop disaster preparedness plans and policies
Governance and Policy
Develop / implement adaptation plans
Maintain adequate financial resources for adaptation
Taxonomic Focus
Other Invertebrates
Sociopolitical Setting
Effort Stage
In progress

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