Summary Report For Building Ecological Solutions to Coastal Community Hazards
The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and the partners of the NFWF grant “Building Ecological Solutions to Coastal Community Hazards” grant, funded by the Department of the Interior and administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, engaged in the development of guidance, outreach and education for communities, professionals and youth, and direct assistance to municipalities for specific assessments, planning and implementation of ecological solutions to coastal hazards. Major outcomes of the project included the Building Ecological Solutions to Coastal Community Hazards guide; Sustainable Jersey ecological actions for municipalities; live presentations to over 3900 stakeholders; development of individual Coastal Vulnerability Assessment for 27 communities; technical assistance to help communities identify appropriate ecological solutions; development and/or implementation of ecological solutions by 10 local governments; monitoring standards, reporting on monitoring of sites, and a new citizen science monitoring program; and participation of over 700 students in a new curriculum module for ecological classes and field work. The grant addressed the needs of coastal communities by tailoring the guide and the assistance to local concerns and opportunities thus significantly advancing the comprehension of resiliency planning, vulnerability assessments and successful mitigations.
Written as a comprehensive effort of NJ DEP Office of Coastal and Land Use Planning, Sustainable Jersey, Partnership for the Delaware Estuary, Stevens Institute of Technology, Rutgers E.J. Bloustein School of Planning and Policy and the Barnegat Bay Partnership, and led by the National Wildlife Federation, the guide incorporates an overview of coastal communities and New Jersey coastal ecosystems, their protective values, key vulnerabilities and ecological solutions to address them, and provides the means both in planning and implementation to protect and enhance the communities and their ecosystems. Research for the guide included analyzing the potential for NJ masterplans and ordinances to include ecological solutions, a literature search on NJ natural coastal hazards, and best practices for ecological solutions. Sustainable Jersey modified its Natural Resources Inventory action to included elements to support ecosystems identification and ecological solutions. “The guide advances practices that can help coastal communities to become safer and more sustainable in ways that work with, rather than against, nature. It describes ecological solutions to coastal community hazards, including measures to protect open space, enhance and protect coastal ecosystems (including beaches and dunes, coastal forests and shrublands, and tidal marshes) in ways that increase elevation and reduce erosion and flooding risks.” (BESCCH)