In the News
December 12, 2016
Save The Sound to Lobby Against Trump's EPA Pick,
WSHU Public Radio Group
December 7, 2016
Sacred Heart University Prof Stems The Tide of Erosion on Stratford Coast,
Stratford Daily Voice
December 1, 2016-
Town Spotlight: Lessons Learned in Milford From Storm Sandy,
December 5, 2016
New Hampshire Looks For Answers Behind Oyster Outbreaks,
November 28, 2016-
Grants to Local Conservation Districts Will Help With Emergency Planning, Erosion Control,
November 28, 2016
Naval Base Ventura County to Fight Climate Change,
Ventura County Star
November 25, 2016
On Virginia's Vulnerable Coast, Fear of Flooding on the Rise,
November 24, 2016
Perils of Climate Change Could Swamp Coastal Real Estate,
New York Times
CIRCA Awards Matching Funds Grant to Purchase Reef Balls to Build Connecticut's Largest Living Shoreline
The Connecticut Institute for Resilience and Climate Adaptation (CIRCA) provided a $91,000 grant to Professor Jennifer Mattei at Sacred Heart University to fund the purchase of most of the 273 reef balls needed to protect an additional 750 feet of shoreline at Stratford Point in Stratford, CT. The CIRCA grant represents a 25% match for grants for the project from the Audubon Connecticut, Connecticut In-lieu-fee program of $250,000 and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Long Island Sound Futures Fund of $115,199.
EPA Releases Updated Federal Interagency Report on Freshwater Resources in a Changing Climate
An updated report addressing ways to build resilience to climate change for water resources has been released by the federal Water Resources and Climate Change Workgroup. "Looking Forward: Priorities for Managing Freshwater Resources in a Changing Climate" updates a 2011 National Action Plan and outlines priority actions to make progress in three key areas: data and research; planning and decision support; and training and outreach. Fourteen federal agencies were involved in developing this report and are undertaking efforts to build the nation's preparedness to extreme events.
In partnership with the
Urban Sustainability Directors Network
, the Funders' Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities (TFN) is pleased to announce the opening of Round Ten of Partners for Places.
Partners for Places
is a successful matching grant program that creates opportunities for cities and counties in the United States and Canada to improve communities by building partnerships between local government, sustainability offices and place-based foundations. National funders invest in local projects to promote a healthy environment, a strong economy, and well-being of all residents. Through these projects, Partners for Places fosters long-term relationships that make our urban areas more prosperous, livable, and vibrant. The grant program provides partnership investments between $25,000 and $75,000 for one year projects, or $50,000 and $150,000 for two year projects, with a 1:1 match required by one or more local foundations.
The application deadline for Round Ten is January 30, 2017 (by 11:59 p.m., any time zone). Please visit the
Partners for Places
webpage for more information. Here you can view the
Request for Proposal
(RFP), access the
and consult the
Frequently Asked Questions
(FAQ) document. You may also want to visit the
which has summaries of all the proposals submitted in prior rounds. TFN hosted a webinar to answer any questions about the grant program on December 7. A recording of the webinar is available on TFN's website.
Local & State News Clips
December 12, 2016- Save The Sound to Lobby Against Trump's EPA Pick
The Connecticut Fund for the Environment and its bi-state program, Save the Sound, say they'll lobby the Senate to reject Oklahoma Attorney General, Scott Pruitt, President-elect Donald Trump's choice to head the EPA.
Pruitt is a climate change denier and has sued the EPA five times trying to overturn laws that protect waterways and regulate emissions at power plants. Connecticut Fund for the Environment President Donald Strait says as the head of the EPA, Pruitt could cause long-term damage to air quality in Connecticut and to water quality in Long Island Sound.
"The world is in climate crisis. We can't afford four years of going backward under an EPA chief who doesn't believe the climate change data and has a history of using his government position to advance the interests of the fossil fuel industry," Strait says.
U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said he would vigorously oppose Pruitt's confirmation and take every possible step to stop it.
"His positions are an anathema to the goals and mission of the EPA, and he's being appointed in effect to destroy it, not to discharge its essential mission," Blumenthal says.
During the campaign, Trump threatened to de-fund or eliminate the EPA. That would put Connecticut and New York at risk of losing millions of dollars in funding for restoring coastal wetlands and monitoring water quality in Long Island Sound.
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December 7, 2016- Sacred Heart University Prof Stems The Tide of Erosion on Stratford Coast
STRATFORD, Conn. - A Sacred Heart University biology professor secured more than $450,000 in grant funding recently to expand her innovative erosion reversal project in Stratford, working against the tide to protect the town's shoreline.
Helped by a team of engineers, volunteers and her own students, Jennifer Mattei has placed nearly 400 reef balls weighing 1,500 pounds each at Stratford Point, the cornerstone of her 6-year-old project, which is already showing signs of success along the deeply eroded coast.
"Low tide now is where high tide was in 1990," Mattei said, scanning the horizon Tuesday morning. "Global climate change is real."
Beginning in 2010, Mattei partnered with Audubon Connecticut and the DuPont Co., which owns the strip near the Audubon site, to install Connecticut's first "living shoreline." It's hoped the project will restore coastal habitats and maintain their resiliency and function in the face of glaring erosion.
In 2014, Mattei oversaw a pilot project to place 64 cement reef balls, usually used in coral reef restoration, along a stretch of beach to see whether they would help reduce the force of waves crashing on the shore in storms.
In just two years, sand deposits rose 12 inches both behind and, in some areas, in front of the
reef, she said.
Recently, Mattei and her team calculated ways to expand the reef, adding another 325 balls that will accumulate sediment and help add to the reef. It's hoped the expanded space - and the 4,000 grass plugs and shrubs and trees her team will plant - will make the area more hospitable to fish, shellfish, birds and the 50 species of beneficial butterflies and moths who once called the area home.
"We're mimicking what used to be here," she said. "If you want biodiversity ... you need structure."
December 1, 2016- Town Spotlight: Lessons Learned in Milford From Storm Sandy
It's a startling image: whitecaps from Long Island Sound hitting rooftops of the houses along the shore in Milford during
. And even though the storm was four years ago, the after-effects are still being felt.
That's how Bill Richards described the storm. He grew up in the Walnut Beach neighborhood and has worked for the city his whole career, most recently as deputy director of Emergency Management and Recovery Coordinator for Milford. Sandy damaged 2,000 homes, 250 of them, severely. The damage was almost all residential. He says more than 1,100 homeowners filed applications with FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, for financial help following the storm.
Richards says the town's surge maps are uncannily accurate - that the amount of flooding predicted in different neighborhoods is pretty much what occurred. "Most of the damage from Sandy was from wave action, not wind or rain."
Sandy was actually the "2" of the "1-2 punch" that struck the city, the first being Irene just a year earlier, in 2011. Bruce Barrett, who lives with his family in Point Beach, says some neighbors were devastated by both storms, and had just finished repairs from Irene - but had not yet elevated their homes - when Sandy struck 14 months later.
He says the storm affected people differently, partly based on whether they had flood insurance or not. "Some neighbors moved out, others rebuilt their homes and raised them. Some parcels are just vacant lots. The houses that were already raised were untouched."
November 29, 2016- Bluff Point Tree-Cutting Plan Sparks Concerns
Groton - Large trees would be felled in three areas of Bluff Point State Park and six privately owned adjacent properties, under a plan the Connecticut Airport Authority said is needed to ensure the safety of aircraft using Groton-New London Airport.
The public will have a chance to comment on the plan at a hearing next week. Among those who plan on speaking against the proposal are representatives of the
Connecticut Fund for the Environment/Save the Sound
, who contend that the current plan should be revised so that fewer trees are cut down and sensitive areas in Bluff Point are protected.
"It is a unique property on the Connecticut coast," Andrew Minikowski, attorney and legal fellow at the Connecticut Fund for the Environment, said Tuesday of the 800-acre state park. "We understand that some trees may need to be taken down, but it needs to be done with much more care and far-sightedness."
Under the plan, large trees that obstruct airspace leading to the airport's runways would be removed selectively. The removal is needed to comply with Federal Aviation Administration safety regulations, according to the Environmental Assessment and Environmental Impact Evaluation prepared for the airport project. The trees that would be cut are on about 40 acres of the park, and about 15 acres at Birch Plain Golf Course, nearby commercial properties and undeveloped private lands, according to Alisa Sisic, spokeswoman for the airport authority.
Dennis Schain, spokesman for the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, said his agency is concerned that the state park property be protected as much as possible.
"We completely understand the need to ensure the safety of aircraft landing and taking off from the Groton airport," he said. "This project as proposed, however, appears to have significant impact on sensitive lands owned by DEEP at Bluff Point, so we will be giving this matter very careful consideration."
November 28, 2016- Hazard Mitigation Plan for Region Being Updated
said David Murphy, senior project manager at Milone & MacBroom, a Cheshire-based engineering firm, has been required by the Federal Emergency Management Agency since 2000 as a condition of receiving grants for hazard mitigation projects such as replacing undersized culverts, stabilizing riverbanks, buying properties vulnerable to flooding and enhancing or building new standby power supplies. The law also requires plans be updated every five years. The new plan, he added, will be the region's third.
James Butler, executive director of SCCOG, said that while the new plan is being written for the entire 22-town region the agency serves, it will include chapters specific to each town.
"There's a lot of time being spent with each municipality, with people in the building, wetlands, emergency management, planning and public works departments," he said.
The timeline for the new plan, Murphy said, is to send a draft version to the state for review by next spring, make revisions, and send a final version to FEMA before next October.
As a result of the current plan, he said, several communities replaced culverts, and upgraded sewage treatment plants to reduce vulnerability to flooding and power outages. Norwich bought the Nutmeg Companies property, which had flooded repeatedly, enabling that business to relocate, and the site of the plant became open space.
But some of the recommendations of the current plan have not yet been acted on, Murphy said, including home buyouts in vulnerable neighborhoods. "That hasn't happened yet," he said.
The new plan will identify risks at the region's unique facilities, including the Naval Submarine Base, Millstone and Electric Boat. A new element, Murphy said, will include risks to historic and cultural resources.
"These resources can be very much at risk, but very hard to mitigate" by elevating or flood-proofing structures, he said. Sea level rise due to climate change was included in the 2012 plan, and will also be included in the new version, he said.
November 28, 2016- Hydrogen Fuel Cell Cars Are Coming to Connecticut
Connecticut is poised to become the first state in the Northeast - and the second in the U.S. - to sell hydrogen fuel cell powered cars - considered by many to be the most Green vehicle available.
, energy director for the
Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology
is gearing up to begin selling the $58,000 cars in the state in late 2017, the culmination of years of planning and work to establish fueling stations and other infrastructure.
"Toyota is committed to having the cars available here next year," said Rinebold, who tested a model last year. "It's like driving an electric car. It's quiet, it moved quick. It was interesting. It's the car of the future."
There is one hydrogen vehicle fueling station in Wallingford and another is under construction in Hartford. Discussions are under way to build stations in the New Haven and Stamford regions as well, said Rinebold, whose nonprofit organization works with the private and public sectors to develop fuel cell infrastructure and technology.
California has been selling fuel cell cars for years, and invested tens of millions of dollars to build fueling stations and other infrastructure. The cars use a process that combines hydrogen and oxygen to produce electricity, which then charges a battery that powers the vehicle.
Other zero emission cars now sold in the state, such as the electric Chevy Volt, draw on power from the regional grid, and that power likely comes from a coal, oil or natural gas fired plant, all of which leave a carbon footprint.
National News Clips
BOSTON, MA - A major flood could affect more than 90,000 Bostonians and 12,000 buildings, causing $14 billion in damages, within 50 years if officials do not take significant action, according to a city climate change report released today.
The report suggests steps including mile-long gates in Boston Harbor and more water-absorbing "green infrastructure," a tax on property owners for stormwater absorption, creating "assessment districts" for areas that need large-scale resilience help and taxing properties that benefit from such assistance.
The 400-page Climate Ready Boston report evaluates the projected effects of climate change across the city, focusing on temperature increase, flooding and sea level rise. Between now and 2050, the sea level is expected to rise nine inches even if greenhouse gas emissions are drastically reduced. A 21-inch rise is expected in the second half of the century even with reduced emissions.
December 8, 2016- Living Shorelines Withstand Matthew's Force
HOLLY RIDGE, NC - When Hurricane Matthew approached North Carolina in October, many in the state - from scientists to casual observers - watched to see the effects on shorelines. Storm surge and increased wave action can visibly wear away the coast. How would properties with bulkheads fare? Or, for those with wetlands conservation in mind, would living shorelines deliver what they promised?
Living shorelines are designed to protect vulnerable marsh habitats. In the case of hurricanes, though, living shorelines are also meant to be filters of stormwater runoff and to mitigate the erosion caused by the water that inevitably comes with the storms.
Larry Jansen chose his home in Holly Ridge's Preserve at Morris Landing in part because of water and coastal access. As a volunteer with the North Carolina Coastal Federation, he's been watching the 310-foot living shoreline completed there in July as the fifth phase of an ongoing restoration project, and he returned to the site soon after the hurricane passed through.
"I couldn't really see any impact at all," Jansen said. Living shoreline proponents say that's no surprise.
December 5, 2016- New Hampshire Looks For Answers Behind Oyster Outbreaks
DURHAM, NH (AP) - For the past 25 years, researcher
has tried to understand the threat that bacteria may pose to oysters in New Hampshire's Great Bay estuary. He often couldn't get funding to study the problem. But that is beginning to change as scientists notice "something is going on."
Scientists are recognizing that a waterborne disease sickening tens of thousands of people each year is associated with warmer waters of the Gulf of Mexico moving northward, partly due to climate change. The problem is extremely rare in New Hampshire and neighboring Maine, but scientists have seen cases elsewhere in New England and expect it to become a bigger problem.
"We have this situation in the northern part of the United States and other cooler climates where people haven't thought this had been a problem," said Jones, of the
for Vibrio Disease and Ecology at the
University of New Hampshire
. "In the last 10 or 20 years, it's become very apparent that there is something going on."
Currently, all experts can do is monitor the waters and rapidly cool harvested oyster to halt bacteria growth.
"Eventually, we would want shellfish managers to have access to these models that would allow them to communicate to the growers that conditions have changed and that we now need this to manage the potential risk to reduce whether there will be exposures," Whistler said.
The bacteria fueled by warmer temperatures are also a stark reflection of the impact that climate change is having on the world's oceans, experts say. An August report in the Proceedings of the
National Academy of Sciences
found that warming waters were linked to waterborne food poisoning, especially from eating raw oysters.
November 28, 2016- Grants to Local Conservation Districts Will Help With Emergency Planning, Erosion Control
TURNERS FALLS, MA - With a new federal grant in hand, the local conservation district will be able to move forward with local emergency planning and erosion control projects on area rivers.
State Energy and Environment Secretary Matthew Beaton joined Senate President Stanley Rosenberg and Rep. Stephen Kulik at the Great Falls Discovery Center Monday morning to announce the two $42,000 grants, one each for the Franklin district and the Hampden-Hampshire district.
Beaton said the grants were authorized through the Legislature as part of the 2014 environmental bond bill and awarded through the state Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. They'll provide $250,000 of total funding to the state's 13 conservation districts, which were formed after the Dust Bowl to help protect and preserve land in water nationwide.
The grants, called Conservation District Innovation Grants, are administered by the federal Natural Resources Conservation Service.
"We've done a great job in Massachusetts over the years of conserving property throughout the Commonwealth, and we want to continue to preserve those beautiful resources," Beaton said of the grants.
"We also realize there's a need for stewardship of those lands, and these 13 districts are great partners and do amazing work as a liaison between state and local organizations and the landowners, who are the stewards."
November 28, 2016- Naval Base Ventura County to Fight Climate Change
VENTURA, CA - In a first-of-its-kind effort, an environmental group will help Naval Base Ventura County, home to the largest remaining coastal wetlands in Southern California, prepare for rising sea levels caused by climate change.
The project announced this month by the naval base and
The Nature Conservancy
could serve as a model for U.S. military installations worldwide endeavoring to protect their coastlines from the impacts of global warming, said Lily Verdone, coastal project director for the Ventura office of the national nonprofit.
The U.S. Department of Defense has defined climate change as a major threat to America's national security. That danger is especially acute at coastal military installations, according to a 2014
report on climate change
The Defense Department is one of the largest coastal landowners in the United States and controls more than 200,000 acres of oceanfront property in California, including Naval Base Ventura County and its six miles of coastline and 2,500 acres of wetlands.
Situated along the low-lying Oxnard Plain, the naval base is particularly susceptible to rising tides and surges set off by hurricanes and other weather events around the country and the world, according to The Conservancy.
"The Navy is one of the greatest stewards of the environment," said Theresa Miller, a spokeswoman for the base. "We do recognize climate change is something we need to prepare for and because of this agreement, we'll be able to do that."
The Nature Conservancy, which has conducted
and developed a
coastal resilience mapping tool
for U.S. communities, will evaluate the effects of climate change on the base's natural resources and infrastructure, Verdone said.
November 25, 2016- On Virginia's Vulnerable Coast, Fear of Flooding on the Rise
VIRGINIA BEACH, VA (AP) - When floodwaters poured into
's Virginia Beach home in October, she ripped out electrical cords and rushed her four children upstairs. They spent the next two days without power, building blanket forts while anxiously waiting for sewage-tainted waters to recede.
Nearly two months later, Furlong, 34, said she's being treated for post-traumatic stress disorder.
"It changes your sense of security," she said of the flooding that inundated 1,400 homes and business in Virginia Beach after weeks of rain. "It kind of bursts your optimistic bubble for life. Things that didn't seem possible, because they were so bad, seem possible."
In a region under siege from rising sea levels, the heavy rains brought flood worries to a new level. Instead of the storm surge many fear, the rain overwhelmed drainage systems in neighborhoods miles from the Atlantic Ocean and the nearby Chesapeake Bay. Homes that never flooded before were overrun with two or three feet of water.
Experts warn that flooding will likely increase in Virginia's Hampton Roads region, where Virginia Beach and six other cities are clustered on or near the state's low-lying coast. The land is sinking and the sea is rising at the highest rate on the East Coast, they say. Global warming threatens to draw more intense rain storms up the Eastern Seaboard.
November 24, 2016- Perils of Climate Change Could Swamp Coastal Real Estate
MIAMI, FL - Real estate agents looking to sell coastal properties usually focus on one thing: how close the home is to the water's edge. But buyers are increasingly asking instead how far back it is from the waterline. How many feet above sea level? Is it fortified against storm surges? Does it have emergency power and sump pumps?
Rising sea levels are changing the way people think about waterfront real estate. Though demand remains strong and developers continue to build near the water in many coastal cities, homeowners across the nation are slowly growing wary of buying property in areas most vulnerable to the effects of
has already forced a number of industries - coal, oil, agriculture and utilities among them - to account for potential future costs of a changed climate. The real estate industry, particularly along the vulnerable coastlines, is slowly awakening to the need to factor in the risks of catastrophic damage from climate change, including that wrought by rising seas and storm-driven flooding.
But many economists say that this reckoning needs to happen much faster and that home buyers urgently need to be better informed. Some analysts say the economic impact of a collapse in the waterfront property market could surpass that of the bursting dot-com and real estate bubbles of 2000 and 2008.
The fallout would be felt by property owners, developers, real estate lenders and the financial institutions that bundle and resell mortgages.
November 23, 2016- Of King Canute And The Supermoon
King Canute couldn't control the moon, and so was unable to stop the tide. Likewise, sea level rise from global warming is not under human control. That is because the sea level rise itself is partly due to the unfortunate chemical and physical properties of water - it expands a little when it warms. That expansion is very small in every gallon of seawater, but along with other sources of sea level rise, such as increases in sea ice melting, it adds up to about 6 centimeters (2.4 inches) every decade, or 2 feet every century.
This doesn't seem like much, but before a huge sigh of relief rises up from Washington, here is why an extra 2 feet of sea level in the next century is bad for buildings, for our many big coastal cities, and for the nation's economic growth: King Tides and
The Trump International Hotel and Tower in Waikiki is about 4 feet above sea level - but when tides are high and storm waves come crashing over the reef, there is already seawater gushing from storm drains in that part of Waikiki. Add a two feet more water and two things pile up - more waves come over the protective reef, and higher sea levels push more water out into the streets. Already, many people around the U.S. - top, top people - report seeing just this kind of inundation. And the term
, where high tides and waves combine to overtop normal coastal protection, have hit the news more and more in the past decade.
Just last week, the close approach of the moon to Earth brought tide levels up more than usual. Reports from Miami show widespread ocean flooding,
an octopus in a parking garage
and perhaps sewage backing up into the king tide waters. King tide floods were also reported widely across the eastern seaboard. How much higher were these king tides than usual? Some comparisons in Connecticut show king tides are 6 inches higher - about the amount of sea level rise we expect by the year 2065. So, by 2065 all tides will be King Tides and the King Tides of that future era will be serious floods. These estimates do not include other likely events such as the impact of increased storms, high sea level rise from polar ice sheets, increased greenhouse gasses entering the air, or acidity in the water killing the reefs that grow natural seawalls.
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The Resilience Roundup highlights
CIRCA's presence in the news, provides links to recent local/state/national news articles related to resilience and adaptation, and announces upcoming events and seminars.
The Connecticut Institute for Resilience and Climate Adaptation's (CIRCA) mission is to increase the resilience and sustainability of vulnerable communities along Connecticut's coast and inland waterways to the growing impacts of climate change and extreme weather on the natural, built, and human environment. The institute is located at the University of Connecticut's Avery Point campus and includes faculty from across the university. CIRCA is a partnership between UConn and the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (CT DEEP).