A Climate Change Adaptation Strategy for Management of Coastal Marsh Systems
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Sea level rise is causing shoreline erosion, increased coastal flooding, and marsh vulnerability to the impact of storms. Coastal marshes provide flood abatement, carbon and nutrient sequestration, water quality maintenance, and habitat for fish, shellfish, and wildlife, including species of concern, such as the saltmarsh sparrow (Ammodramus caudacutus). We present a climate change adaptation strategy (CCAS) adopted by scientific, management, and policy stakeholders for managing coastal marshes and enhancing system resiliency. A common adaptive management approach previously used for restoration projects was modified to identify climate-related vulnerabilities and plan climate change adaptive actions. As an example of implementation of the CCAS, we describe the stakeholder plans and management actions the US Fish and Wildlife Service and partners developed to build coastal resiliency in the Narrow River Estuary, RI, in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. When possible, an experimental BACI (before-after, control-impact) design, described as pre- and post-sampling at the impact site and one or more control sites, was incorporated into the climate change adaptation and implementation plans. Specific climate change adaptive actions and monitoring plans are described and include shoreline stabilization, restoring marsh drainage, increasing marsh elevation, and enabling upland marsh migration. The CCAS provides a framework and methodology for successfully managing coastal systems faced with deteriorating habitat, accelerated sea level rise, and changes in precipitation and storm patterns.
KeywordsSalt marsh Resiliency Sea level rise Storms Adaptive management Restoration Climate change Living shoreline Thin-layer sediment application
Coauthors are listed alphabetically after the lead author. In addition to the organizations represented by the authors, we are grateful for the cooperation and active participation of RI Department of Environmental Management, US Army Corp of Engineers, TNC, University of Rhode Island, Audubon Society of RI, NOAA, Ducks Unlimited, town officials, and community members. Thanks to Kevin Ruddock, who created map outputs from SLAMM and presented the model results for the Narrow River Estuary to the stakeholders. We are grateful for constructive reviews and helpful suggestions provided by Anne Kuhn, Alana Hanson, Autumn Oczkowski, Marty Chintala, and Wayne Munns. Mention of trade names or commercial products does not constitute endorsement or recommendation for use by the US EPA or USFWS. This report, ORD Tracking Number ORD-010685, has been reviewed technically by the US EPA’s Office of Research and Development, National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory, Atlantic Ecology Division, Narragansett, RI, and approved for publication. Approval does not signify that the contents necessarily reflect the views and policies of the US EPA or USFWS.
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