CSO Newsletter

The Coastal States Organization represents the nation’s Coastal States, Territories, and Commonwealths on ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes resource issues.

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Spotlight on Coastal Management:

Illinois Beach State Park Shoreline Stabilization Project Achieves WEDG (Waterfront Edge Design Guidelines) Verification

Aerial shot of Illinois Beach State Park showing beach and breakwater construction.

Photo credit: Michels Construction, Inc.

Home to six miles of natural lake shoreline and over 4,000 acres of public park, Illinois Beach State Park faces chronic erosion from Lake Michigan waves and evolving climate change impacts. With portions of the site eroding away at over 100 feet per year, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and Capital Development with design-build team lead Moffatt & Nichol, set into motion the Illinois Beach State Park Shoreline Stabilization Project. In December 2023, this park became the first breakwaters, freshwater, and rural project to achieve WEDG® (Waterfront Edge Design Guidelines) Verification, and the first to complete its WEDG Verification using the new WEDG V3.0.

WEDG is a national rating system and gold standard for resilient, ecological, and accessible waterfront design. External specialists in engineering, architecture, and landscape architecture determined that the project exceeded the requirements for WEDG Verification, earning 146 out of 250 possible points in the standard (130 are needed to pass). In October 2023, the standard expanded to include inland rivers and lakes.

The project team devised an environmentally balanced approach to stabilize, renourish, and protect Illinois Beach State Park. This undertaking is a part of Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker’s bipartisan Rebuild Illinois capital plan intended to reinvest in the state’s infrastructure. Illinois Beach State Park received $73 million for the construction of shoreline stabilization structures across three locations in the park. The result of this investment will transform the beach into an ecologically thriving environment and maintain a lasting crucial resource for parkgoers.

To protect the beach from the threat of ongoing erosion, the project team designed 22 stone breakwaters. These breakwaters will reduce transmission of wake energy before it reaches the shoreline and upland habitat. The resilient structures will also help maintain about 2.2 miles of sandy beachfront. Construction of the Kellogg Creek groin will ensure that cobbles and stone are retained, and sand is deposited at the mouth of the creek when water level rises. In turn, sand will be cleared and drained into the lake, reducing upstream flooding and restoring upland wetlands.

The project team was conscious of the park user’s experience, purposefully arranging the breakwaters to allow for unobstructed waterfront views between the structures and choosing stone material for a more natural appearance. The widened beach also restored an eroded trail connection along Burnett Avenue, improving pedestrian pathways.

Read more here.

In the States and Territories

East Coast and Caribbean

Artists and Community Organizations Work Together to Communicate Climate Risks in New Jersey

Four New Jersey community-based organizations (CBOs) recently received funding to work with regional artists to develop community-engaged art projects that communicate climate risks to the public. These projects were made possible through funding awarded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Coastal Management Program (CMP). Since 2019, the CMP has partnered with the New Jersey State Council on the Arts (Arts Council) to develop and implement a Community-Based Art Grant Program, which - as part of a larger risk communications campaign - addresses the need to involve and inform the public about coastal hazard impacts and what actions they can take to reduce their risk. “The Arts Council has been a partner with the CMP since the inception of the program,” said Allison Tratner, Executive Director of the State Arts Council. “We applaud both NOAA and the DEP for taking the opportunity to capitalize on the unique ability of artists and art to connect communities around issues of climate resilience and risk.” The CBOs and artists work together to address the theme of climate resilience and coastal flooding through original, site-specific artwork and community engagement events. The purpose is to engage communities in new ways, increasing awareness and understanding of flooding risks in the coastal zone, and introduce the other risk communication tools being produced by the CMP through this project. "Since the launch of the Community-Based Art Grant Program in 2019, it has been incredibly exciting to see a variety of local artists, community organizations, climate scientists, and municipalities come together to learn about their local coasts and the risks they are facing,” said Nick Angarone, NJ Chief Resilience Officer. "This program enables these groups to bring that shared knowledge to the public through innovative, immersive art projects. I am looking forward to seeing what unique installations this next cohort of artists and organizations create for their communities." Read more here.

Maryland Wetlands Map Identifies Areas That Could Be Affected by Sea Level Rise

As sea level rise changes the coastal landscape of Maryland in the future some existing wetlands will be submerged, while existing land will become wetlands. A state mapping project coordinated by Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) provides a look ahead at what areas could become flooded or have potential as beneficial wetlands in the future. The project is intended to help officials prepare for sea level rise and identify areas that are in need of conservation action. DNR, in collaboration with George Mason University and The Nature Conservancy, ran an updated model to predict the future location and size of wetlands resulting from sea level rise. Using this model, the team also created a data layer that scores coastal areas based on their future potential as wetlands. “With these greater insights into the future effects of sea level rise, land managers can proactively identify areas that will be key for wildlife conservation while protecting coastal communities from storm impacts and nuisance flooding,” said Sara Coleman, a conservation resilience planner with DNR who is helping roll out the updated wetland migration data. “This data will improve targeting of land acquisitions and easements, particularly on the lower Eastern Shore where the impacts of sea level rise will be most acute.” The map is available on the Maryland Coastal Atlas, found on DNR’s website. Viewers can select the “Layer List” icon in the center of the top navigation bar, and then choose layers from the “Wetland Adaptation to Sea Level Rise” category. All layers are also visible together on the iMap version. Read more here.

Gulf Coast

Dispute Over Louisiana's Biggest Coastal Restoration Project Likely Headed for State Supreme Court

The state agency overseeing construction of the controversial $3 billion Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion, Louisiana's biggest-ever coastal restoration project, says it plans to ask the state Supreme Court to intervene after an appeals court moved a lawsuit seeking to stop the work back to a Plaquemines courtroom. On Jan. 31, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeal ordered a suit filed Nov. 9, 2023, in the 25th Judicial District Court in Pointe a la Hache to be returned to that courtroom, after the state Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority won a ruling from a Baton Rouge judge temporarily blocking the parish from enforcing a stop-work order that had halted construction of the diversion. A non-unanimuous panel of appeals court judges based in New Orleans ruled that 19th Judicial District Judge Tiffany Foxworth-Roberts' conclusion that the Plaquemines lawsuit should be heard in Baton Rouge because the CPRA is based there and its actions approving the diversion were also made there was incorrect. Instead, it found that based on a state law and past Supreme Court decisions, CPRA's actions were taking place in Plaquemines Parish and the suit should be heard there. Read more here.

Vital Seagrasses in Gulf of Mexico are Retreating Amid Rapid Sea Level Rise

The Gulf of Mexico is experiencing sea level rise two to three times as fast as the global average due to a combination of warmer waters and wind circulation patterns. Now, a newly released long-term study from marine scientists at The University of Texas at Austin has found rising sea levels can be linked to a loss of valuable seagrass habitats in Texas. The paper appears in Communications Earth & Environment. Seagrasses are recognized globally as foundation species that play a key role in supporting fisheries and mitigating climate change, efficiently storing substantial amounts of carbon. Meadows occur in shallow waters, and the species are dependent on light for photosynthesis and growth. The researchers are the first to find that sea level rise is yet another human impact that is responsible for the worldwide decline in seagrasses.

Ken Dunton, a professor in UT's Marine Science Institute, and Kyle Capistrant-Fossa, a doctoral student, made the discovery while examining a 30-year database of observations that Dunton had collected at his study site in the Laguna Madre next to Padre Island. Capistrant-Fossa found that the slow loss of vegetation at the site during the past decade was also coincident with an unprecedented rise in sea level. They also found that seagrasses were disappearing from their historical deeper water ranges throughout the Upper Laguna Madre. However, they noted that these losses could be compensated by plant expansion into areas that were once too shallow. Read more here.

Great Lakes

Great Lakes Commissions Sign Historic Agreement to Enhance Cooperation on Great Lakes Restoration and Protection

In a ceremony held [this week], the Great Lakes Commission (GLC), Great Lakes Fishery Commission (GLFC), and International Joint Commission (IJC) formally signed the first-ever memorandum of understanding between them. The agreement sets a clear path for advancing the commissions’ existing shared goals and objectives, such as developing a Great Lakes science plan, coordinating science vessel activities, and promoting annual Great Lakes Day events. Each commission plays a different but complementary role in Great Lakes management and represent important stakeholders in advancing sound policies and projects. The IJC helps Canada and the United States prevent and resolve issues over the use of the waters they share, including through the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement; the GLC represents the interests of the Great Lakes provinces and states on priority issues; and the GLFC ensures fishery management is based on science and highly coordinated among the state, provincial, and U.S. tribal jurisdictions in the basin. Read more here.

Habitat Restoration in the Great Lakes: By the Numbers

The Great Lakes are some of our nation’s most important natural, recreational, and economic resources. But they face many threats, including habitat degradation, pollution, overfishing, and the spread of invasive species. NOAA and our partners work to restore habitat in the Great Lakes region to support the fish, ecosystems, and communities that rely on them. We work through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative to restore habitat in areas that have experienced environmental degradation, known as Areas of Concern, and priority habitat for Great Lakes fisheries. Here are a few key numbers that help illustrate the scope of our habitat restoration work in the region through this program. 14 Years: NOAA has worked through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative since 2010 to restore habitat across the Great Lakes region. Our story map highlights the first decade of NOAA and partners’ work through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. 94 projects: NOAA has supported 94 high-priority habitat restoration projects through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. Our efforts have helped strengthen valuable Great Lakes fisheries and restore coastal wetlands that improve water quality. We recently supported habitat restoration in places like the Detroit River in Michigan and the Buffalo River in New York. 5,000 Acres: The projects we’ve supported have restored more than 5,000 acres of habitat for fish and wildlife. This restoration work has improved fish passage, cleaned up debris, restored coastal wetlands, and managed invasive species. Read more here.

West Coast and Pacific

US Finalizes Two Offshore Wind Energy Areas in Oregon

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) on Tuesday finalised two wind energy areas (WEAs) in the offshore Oregon region, aligning with government goals to deploy 30 gigawatts of offshore wind power along U.S. coastlines this decade to fight climate change. The two WEAs, Coos Bay WEA and Brookings WEA, are spread across 195,012 acres (78,919 hectares) and "the department continues to take steps to evolve its approach to offshore wind to drive towards union-built projects and a domestic-based supply chain," said the agency, which is part of the U.S. Department of the Interior.

"BOEM is exploring additional opportunities for offshore wind energy development in the U.S., including in the Gulf of Maine and the U.S. Central Atlantic coast." Progress to develop the U.S. offshore wind industry slowed in 2023 after offshore developers canceled contracts to sell power in Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Jersey, and threatened to cancel agreements in other states, as soaring inflation, interest rate hikes and supply chain problems increased project costs. Read more here.

The Nature Conservancy Unveils Expanded Insurance Policy for Hawai‘i Coral Reefs

The Nature Conservancy made waves two years ago when it took out the first coral reef insurance policy in United States history. That policy – which covered the bulk of the main Hawaiian Islands from late 2022 through 2023 – would have provided funding for rapid coral reef repair and restoration in the event of hurricane or tropical storm damage. Earlier this month, The Nature Conservancy announced its purchase of an expanded coral reef policy for 2024. The new coverage encompasses 344,950 square miles, more than double the area covered under the previous policy, to capture more storm events. The minimum payout has also doubled to $200,000, while the maximum payout total is $2 million over the year-long policy period and $1 million per storm. The policy is triggered when tropical storm winds of 50 knots or greater occur in the core of the coverage area. Payout rates are calculated based on storms’ wind speeds and proximity to the core. “It is an innovative financing mechanism, really. It’s a new approach at supporting conservation,” said Julia Rose, coral restoration program manager for The Nature Conservancy’s Hawai‘i and Palmyra chapter. “A lot of times we think of our partners in conservation as government management agencies and nonprofits and community groups. But this is bringing the financial sector to the work, which I think can be a game changer.” Read more here.

Events & Webinars

December 4 - March 15, 2024

March 12-14, 2024

April 3-6, 2024

May 12-16, 2024

May 13-14, 2024

June 23-27, 2024

October 6-10, 2024

NOAA Science Seminar Series


[NEW] Great Lakes Commission Releases Annual Federal Priorities, New Federal Investment Tracker

The Great Lakes Commission (GLC) released its 2024 federal priorities, urging the Biden administration and Congress to move forward with policies, projects and programs that will foster a more resilient Great Lakes region, increase economic opportunity, and equitably improve the health of important ecosystems throughout the Great Lakes basin. In 2024, the GLC urges Congress and the Biden administration to: reauthorize and fully fund the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI); build a resilient Great Lakes basin; comprehensively address harmful algal blooms; provide dedicated funding to the GLC to fulfill its unique role in the region; ensure equitable access to clean and safe water; capitalize on the potential of the Great Lakes Navigation System; protect against invasive species; and support integrated binational science and data collection. New this year, the GLC has also introduced the Great Lakes Investment Tracker, an interactive mapping application to showcase federally funded projects in Great Lakes states. The app maps and categorizes projects funded through the GLRI; Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act; and Inflation Reduction Act. Learn more here.

[NEW] Fish & Wildlife Service Releases Annual Reports for Coastal Program

Last week, FWS released their FY23 Accomplishment Report for their Coastal Program. The report shares priorities for DOI and FWS as well as accomplishment stories and statistics. In 2023, the Coastal Program worked with partners and local communities to implement 153 conservation projects across 19 states and territories, restoring and protecting 87,689 acres of coastal habitats. Read the report here.

[NEW] Corps of Engineers Issues Draft for New Rules on Cost Benefit Analysis in Water Resources Projects

This proposed rule establishes Agency Specific Procedures (ASPs) for the Corps' implementation of the Principles, Requirements, and Guidelines for water resources investments. It provides a framework to govern how the Corps would evaluate proposed water resource investments, including identification of which Corps programs and activities are subject to the Principles, Requirements, and Guidelines. The Corps is proposing this rule in response to congressional direction provided in authorizing language in the Water Resources Development Act of 2020. Read the Federal Register Notice here.

[NEW] White House Holding Listening Sessions on Marine Carbon Removal Research

The White House National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) Marine Carbon Dioxide Removal Fast-Track Action Committee (MCDR–FTAC) is holding a series of listening sessions to inform the development of an implementation plan regarding marine carbon dioxide removal (MCDR) research. The listening sessions will give an introduction to the MCDR-FTAC and provide an opportunity for interested parties to provide input. The sessions will be organized around three themes: 1) Permitting, regulatory, and other standards and policies, 2) Developing a comprehensive federal MCDR research program, and 3) Mechanisms to enable public awareness and engagement. You may attend as many sessions as you wish.

Theme 1: Permitting, regulatory, and other standards and policies. The FTAC seeks feedback on how the U.S. government intends to apply relevant domestic and international frameworks to regulating MCDR research, including field tests in the ocean. Tuesday March 19, 2024, 12:30 – 2:30 EST, Registration: https://pitc.zoomgov.com/meeting/register/vJIsdeyopjkqHWVAQLMcMg0Yej0K6Jyednk


Theme 2: Comprehensive Federal MCDR research program. The FTAC seeks feedback on a Federal research program that will accelerate the development of the knowledge needed to understand the effectiveness and safety of MCDR approaches. Tuesday, March 26, 2024, 12:30 – 2:30 EST Registration: https://pitc.zoomgov.com/meeting/register/vJItf-6orzgpGHu6D2PnoHlx00k8wjg5Hvk


Theme 3: Mechanisms to enable public awareness and public-private cooperation. The FTAC seeks feedback on how to enable public engagement in MCDR research and how to promote cooperation between the Federal government and non-Federal parties on MCDR research, including field tests. Tuesday, April 9, 2024, 12:30 – 2:30 EST, Registration: https://pitc.zoomgov.com/meeting/register/vJIscu2oqj8sH9ir171uayKrJ75F4H6VdUM


If you plan to attend, please register using the links above. Zoom room information will be provided to those that RSVP. Please note that, depending on session attendance, public comments may be limited to 3 minutes per person (subject to further notice). For more information regarding the MCDR and the scope of the MCDR-FTAC, please see the Federal Register Notice here. In addition to attending the listening sessions, you may also submit input there.

White House Releases Fact Sheet on Annual Agency Action Plans

On February 14th, marking the first anniversary of the signing of President Biden’s second Executive Order on equity, federal agencies, including all Cabinet-level agencies, are releasing their 2023 Equity Action Plans, which include over 100 community-informed strategies and actions to address systemic barriers in our Nation’s policies and programs. The Biden-Harris Administration also released a new White House Progress Report on Equity, which highlights examples of the more than 650 actions agencies have undertaken since the release of their 2022 Equity Action Plans. Agencies acted to increase access to federal contracting dollars, capital, and lending programs for small disadvantaged businesses; reduce discrimination in the housing market; advance environmental justice and invest in disadvantaged communities; address health disparities, including disparities in maternal health outcomes in communities of color; build economic prosperity in rural communities; promote equity and fairness in the justice system; support victims and survivors of gender-based violence; root out bias in the design and use of new technologies, such as artificial intelligence; and bolster civil rights enforcement. Read the full fact sheet here.

Climate Nexus's Water Hub Launches "Just Infrastructure" Initiative

This week Water Hub announced the launch of their new initiative, the Just Infrastructure storytelling campaign. Just Infrastructure is the goal of groups across the U.S. working to bring billions of federal dollars to the neighborhoods we live in and to the wild spaces that sustain us. Historic funding from the Inflation Reduction Act and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is the downpayment we need to turn the tide for our water future. It is already supporting both nature-based solutions like wetland and river restoration and other fixes like lead pipe replacement and PFAS testing and treatment to deliver clean drinking water to families. Just Infrastructure celebrates projects taking root, and offers artwork, social media content, fact sheets, and message guides to encourage just implementation of these funds. Learn more here.

National Sea Grant Law Center Accepting LOIs for 2024 Coastal Resilience Program Competition

The National Sea Grant Law Center (Law Center) is accepting applications from eligible applicants to conduct research on the effectiveness of laws and policies related to a wide range of coastal resilience issues including sea level rise, flooding, amplified storm surge, increased frequency and intensity of storms, land use, or other environmental factors, and whether those policies are achieving desired policy changes. The 2024 Coastal Resilience Program grants have a recommended funding level of $75,000, and the Law Center anticipates selecting up to two projects for funding. Matching funds will not be required. Letters of Intent must be received by 5 p.m. Central Time on Friday, March 8, 2024. Full proposals must be received by 5 p.m. Central Time on Friday, June 7, 2024. The anticipated award start date is February 1, 2025. The following entities are eligible and encouraged to participate in this funding opportunity: Sea Grant Programs, institutions of higher education, government agencies, and non-profit organizations that have the ability and capacity to conduct rigorous, non-partisan law and policy research. Learn more here.

RAE Coastal & Estuarine Summit Call For Abstracts

Restore America’s Estuaries (RAE) proudly presents the 2024 Coastal and Estuarine Summit in partnership with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF). This event will bring together the coastal restoration and management communities to explore issues, solutions, and lessons learned in their work. In the context of climate change, adaption, resilience and building inclusive coastal communities transcend our collective work, the Summit will address all aspects of coastal and estuarine restoration and management, including the Great Lakes and international locales. These topics are crucial as coastal

communities pursue new, more robust strategies to manage, protect, and restore their resources in a changing climate and the need to support all community members. Proposals are due Friday March 15, 2024. Read the full call for proposals here. Submit abstracts here.

NFWF and NOAA Release RFP for National Coastal Resilience Fund

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, in partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, released a request for proposals for the FY 2024 National Coastal Resilience Fund. Funded projects will restore, increase, and strengthen natural infrastructure—the landscapes that help absorb the impacts of storms and floods—to ultimately protect coastal communities and enhance fish and wildlife habitat. This year, the fund will invest approximately $140 million in projects. Pre-proposals are due Wednesday April 10, 2024. Applicants invited to submit a full proposal will have a Tuesday July 2, 2024, deadline. The complete request for proposals can be found here. The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation is holding pre-proposal webinars on Wednesday February 28, Tuesday March 5, and Thursday March 7, 2024. Registration information can be found at the link above. If you have questions, please contact [email protected].

Job Openings

In The States

[NEW] California Coastal Commission - Deputy Director, Environmental Justice, Tribal Affairs and Communications

San Francisco Bay Conservation & Development Commission - Shoreline Development Analyst

San Francisco Bay Conservation & Development Commission - Coastal Scientist (Long-Range Planning)

San Francisco Bay Conservation & Development Commission - Principal Waterfront Planner (Long-Range Planning)

Washington Department of Ecology, Shorelands and Environmental Assistance - Applied Coastal Research and Engineering Section Manager

California Coastal Commission - Multiple Coastal Program Positions

In The Agencies

[NEW] NOAA, National Ocean Service, Office of National Marine Sanctuaries - Program Analyst

[NEW] NOAA, National Ocean Service, Office for Coastal Management - Physical Scientist

[NEW] NOAA Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research, National Sea Grant College Program - Management and Program Analyst

EPA Office of Wetlands, Oceans and Watersheds - EPA Research & Analysis on Issues Related to National Water Programs Fellows (ORISE Fellow)

In NGOs, Industry, and Academia

[NEW] National Marine Sanctuary Foundation - Indigenous Engagement Manager

[NEW] Deep South Environmental Law Center - HBCU Environmental Justice & Climate Corps Internship

Black Girl Environmentalist - Hazel M. Johnson Fellowship

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Prairie Research Institute - Associate Research Scientist, Coastal Resilience

Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation - Coastal Resilience Manager

Job Boards

Office for Coastal Management State Programs

Sea Grant Careers Page


The views expressed in articles referenced here are those of the authors and do not represent or reflect the views of CSO.

If you have a news item or job posting to include in future CSO Newsletters, please send an email to: [email protected] with a subject line: "Newsletter Content". Please include the information to be considered in the body of the email.

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Coastal States Organization | 50 F Street. NW, Suite 570, Washington, DC 20001 | 202-508-3860 | [email protected] | www.coastalstates.org
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