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:

Sea Level Rise Will Swamp Norfolk Nonprofit’s $8 Million New Headquarters. That’s the Whole Point.

The recently constructed Ryan Resilience Lab. It is a modern-looking building with large windows and light exterior. It is sounded by recently planted landscaping.

Photo by Katherine Hafner

Sea level rise is projected to eventually swamp the roughly one-acre spot of land along Knitting Mill Creek in Norfolk where the Elizabeth River Project chose to build its brand new headquarters. Over the next six decades, waters will encroach until the shoreline has moved right up to the nonprofit’s $8 million new building.

Rather than fight that future, the environmental organization is embracing it. In fact, it’s why officials bought the land, previously home to an American Legion, in the first place.

“We thought, let’s go to one of the worst problems” with flooding, said Marjorie Mayfield Jackson, Elizabeth River Project's executive director. “And let’s demonstrate, how do you take care of the Elizabeth River, as well as the people, as sea levels rise.”

After almost four years of construction hindered by cost and pandemic delays, the nonprofit is set to formally open the roughly 6,500-square-foot Ryan Resilience Lab later this spring. Leaders recently gathered to celebrate a part of the project visitors won’t see: the legally binding contract promising to dismantle the very same building.

The Elizabeth River Project signed what it says is the nation’s first privately held rolling conservation easement, committing itself to return the land to nature in the face of climate change. “When that final trigger point is reached, we will no longer work here,” said resilience manager Luísa Black Ellis. “We leave, and the waters come.”

Before its eventual surrender to rising waters, the new resilience lab will demonstrate how to live alongside them. On a recent tour of the building, former Virginia First Lady Pam Northam, who now works for the Elizabeth River Project, pointed out some of its green features.

There are solar panels, a rain garden, cisterns that capture rainwater to reuse in the building’s toilets, pavers in the parking lot that allow water to filter underground – even the carpeting is made from fishnets recycled from the ocean. An accessible walkway out front doubles as a floating dock that rises with flooding. It’s “really a global model for urban coastal resilience that we have right here in our beautiful city of Norfolk,” Northam said. Read more here.

From CSO

CSO supports National Ocean and Coastal Security Improvements Act to promote investment in coastal resilience

Coastal States Organization thanks Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) and Congresswoman Gonzalez-Colon (R-PR) for their efforts to reintroduce the National Ocean and Coastal Security Fund Improvements Act (H.R.. The bill updates the existing National Coastal Resilience Fund (NCRF), to better clarify the eligible uses of the funds and to ensure that coastal States, territories (including the District of Columbia), coastal Indian Tribes and Native Hawaiian Organizations have equitable access to additional block and competitive grants that may be provided through the fund.

In the States and Territories

East Coast and Caribbean

Transforming New York’s Hudson Riverbanks

New York’s Hudson River is undergoing a remarkable transformation, moving from its industrialized past to a more natural and resilient look. The Hudson River Sustainable Shorelines Project, launched by the Hudson River National Estuarine Research Reserve, is leading the charge. The project brings together regulators, engineers, scientists, and communities to create stable shorelines that combat erosion and provide further benefits, such as additional wildlife habitat. Test sites from New York City to Albany demonstrate the effectiveness of nature-based approaches, resulting in the restoration of three miles of Hudson River shoreline using sustainable techniques. The impact of this effort extends beyond the Hudson, influencing communities and regulators across the Northeast and the Great Lakes. Read more here.

Ørsted Announces ‘Repositioning’ of Maryland Project, Seeks New Financial Support

Maryland’s nascent offshore wind energy industry suffered a major blow late Thursday when one of the two companies planning to install wind turbines off the coast of Ocean City announced that it was “repositioning” its plans, pulling out of its agreement with the state and seeking alternative financial arrangements to keep the project going. Ørsted, the world’s largest developer of offshore wind, emphasized that it was still committed to building its project in federal waters, but said it was opting out of the agreement it had reached with the Maryland Public Service Commission for financial clean energy credits intended to help fund the development. The company said that while it would still seek permits for the proposed wind farm from the federal government, and would continue to develop construction and operations plans for Maryland, the current financial realties of the offshore wind industry made it impossible to continue under the present arrangement. Read more here.

Gulf Coast

Gulf of Mexico Alliance Receives $3.9 Million in Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Funding to Benefit the Gulf Coast

The Gulf of Mexico Alliance is investing $3.9 million in Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to increase regional collaboration and support priorities identified by the five Gulf states. Four Regional Ocean Partnerships, including the Gulf of Mexico Alliance, received two-year awards to provide much-needed capacity. The funds are being used to implement projects that improve the health of ocean and coastal ecosystems, enhance the resilience of coastal communities, and increase regional data sharing. “This Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding gives Regional Ocean Partnerships a boost by supporting projects that benefit from a regional approach,” said Laura Bowie, Gulf of Mexico Alliance executive director. “In the Gulf of Mexico, we are laser-focused on building resilient communities, sharing priority data, and fostering good stewardship of our coastal resources.” Thirteen new projects located across the Gulf states will focus on: coastal community resilience, data accessibility and sharing, environmental education, habitat and water resources, wildlife and fisheries, and marine debris. Read more here.

Feds Pump $1.6 Million into Fight to Save Louisiana Marshes Targeted by Foreign Bug

The effort to save a rapidly disappearing plant that holds vast areas of the Louisiana coast together is getting another boost from the federal government. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has awarded $1.6 million to a group of Louisiana scientists searching for ways to save roseau cane, a tall-growing marsh grass that has been decimated by a foreign insect that first appeared in Louisiana about seven years ago. Roseau’s thick roots bind together the lowest section of the Mississippi River, an area known as the Bird’s Foot Delta. As the plant dies, large sections of the Delta converted to open water and exacerbated the state’s already dire land loss crisis. “Roseau cane is the dominant vegetation at the Bird’s Foot Delta,” said Rodrigo Diaz, a Louisiana State University AgCenter entomologist and lead researcher on the project. “Stands of cane protect oil infrastructure and navigation channels while providing habitat for wildlife, and massive areas have been dying since 2016.” In 2019, federal funders contributed about $1.3 million for research projects aimed at saving roseau. Another $1.1 million came from mostly state sources, including the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority. So far, the research has mostly succeeded in ruling out the few possible solutions scientists had pinned their hopes on.The new funding will jumpstart nearly a dozen projects led by Diaz and the AgCenter. Projects will explore roseau’s response to various stressors, including flooding, viruses, chemicals and changes in salinity, and test various methods for restoring areas where roseau has faded. Read more here.

Great Lakes

Bay of Green Bay is One Step Closer to Being Designated as a Research Reserve

The Great Lakes and Wisconsin are one step closer to adding another site to protect and study a freshwater ecosystem along the Bay of Green Bay. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, accepted the site’s nomination to become part of the nation’s National Estuarine Research Reserve System. A network of 30 coastal sites have been designated across the country to study and protect estuaries. Estuaries are ecosystems where rivers meet the sea or the Great Lakes in this case. NOAA’s system of research reserves cover around 1.4 million acres nationwide. They focus on research, stewardship, training and education. The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay has been leading the process to designate the site. Emily Tyner, the university’s director of freshwater strategy, said NOAA’s decision is a major milestone. She said designating the site would be significant for the Bay of Green Bay on a national level. “Locally, it’s significant because it brings additional attention, resources, (and) a collaborative force to work towards addressing opportunities and challenges around the Green Bay estuary,” Tyner said. Read more here.

Smart Buoys Help Brace Great Lakes for Environmental Challenges

Lake Erie is the first of the Great Lakes getting connected to the internet with a series of offshore “smart” buoys. And it’s not just for sending texts on the water. The buoy project, called the Smart Lake Erie Watershed Initiative, is providing invaluable data to researchers and anglers. The initiative was created by the Cleveland Water Alliance, a group that protects and improves how the Great Lakes are used in Ohio. The alliance works with a local engineering group, Freeboard Technology, to develop and deploy the buoys. Smart Lake Erie makes water conditions, contaminants and nutrients easily accessible, said Ed Verhamme, Freeboard Technology’s president. Eventually it will be available across all of the Great Lakes. Smart Lake Erie is an infrastructure investment that will better prepare the region for harmful algal blooms, oil spills and the consequences of climate change, experts say. “We really take for granted how easy it is on land to provide (cellular) coverage,” Verhamme said. “With the network, it’s going to be easier and cheaper to monitor the Great Lakes.” Read more here.

West Coast and Pacific

$13.6B Plan Would Preserve San Francisco Waterfront From Floods

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released a draft plan Jan. 26 for an estimated $13.6-billion project to protect a 7.5 mile-stretch of the San Francisco waterfront from coastal flooding. The draft feasibility report and environmental review is the result of a years-long collaboration between the Corps, the city and the Port of San Francisco. Col. James Handura, commander of the Corps’ South Pacific Division, said during a news conference that the tentatively selected plan was developed using elements of seven alternatives the team released for public review in 2022 as part of the larger San Francisco waterfront coastal flood study. The plan was developed with the Corps’ traditional economic analysis, but Handura said it also accounts for factors including environmental justice, social and economic equity and impacts to vulnerable populations. “This is not only a step forward for San Francisco, it’s a step forward for the Corps of Engineers,” he said. “What we’re doing here in the bay will be a model for other projects.” The study's primary objective is identifying the risk of flooding for the San Francisco waterfront from large coastal storms and extreme high tide events. According to the Corps, an estimated $22 billion in public sector assets are at risk, including major transportation infrastructures and the city’s financial district. Read more here.

Report Recommends Ways to Restructure Aid to Climate-Change Affected Alaska Villages

Permafrost thaw, erosion, storm surges and other climate-change impacts in Alaska’s rural Native villages are not being properly addressed by federal programs because residents have too much trouble overcoming bureaucratic hurdles, said a report issued by the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium. “Legislative and programmatic changes are needed to remove barriers faced by small rural communities and to create more effective and equitable systems to deliver resources and services,” said the report, titled “The Unmet Needs of Environmentally Threatened Alaska Native Villages.” In all, there is an estimated shortfall of about $80 million a year in federal funding to address problems across the more than 200 Indigenous villages in the state, said the report, issued on Monday. Addressing those needs properly will save money in the long run, the report argues. While $4.3 billion is expected to be needed over 50 years to mitigate infrastructure damage, each $1 spent on hazard mitigation will save $6 in recovery costs, the report said. A focus on hazard mitigation to prevent problems could save over $25 billion in response and recovery costs, the report said. Read more here.

Events & Webinars

December 4 - March 15, 2024

February 12-15, 2024

February 16, 2024

February 23-24, 2024

March 6, 2024

March 12-14, 2024

April 3-6, 2024

May 12-16, 2024

May 13-14, 2024

June 23-27, 2024

NOAA Science Seminar Series


[NEW] Public Listening Sessions for the Future of Aquaculture at NOAA Fisheries

The NOAA Office of Aquaculture is undertaking a program review to responsibly plan for the future of its aquaculture program by considering how NOAA would implement the NOAA Aquaculture Strategic Plan under various scenarios. Regional and national listening sessions will be held throughout February and March – dates and registration information are available here.

[NEW] EPA and National Endowment for the Arts Launch Inaugural Artist in Residence Program

At an event hosted by the White House and National Endowment for the Arts, EPA Assistant Administrator for Water Radhika Fox announced EPA’s inaugural Artist-in-Residence program. The program is lead in collaboration with NEA and will recognize the profound impact that arts and culture play in shaping our lives, communities, and nation. By launching this program, EPA is investing in arts and culture to boost engagement, awareness and participation in critical water challenges ranging from aging infrastructure to climate impacts like flooding and storm surge to investment in safe drinking water. The first-of-its-kind program features six locations from EPA’s National Estuary Program and Urban Waters Federal Partnership, with the goal of incorporating arts and cultural strategies into these place-based programs.

The six locations include:

  • The Passaic River and Bronx and Harlem River Urban Waters Federal Partnerships: New York-New Jersey Harbor and Estuary Program
  • The San Juan Estuary Partnership
  • The Greater Philadelphia Area/Delaware River Watershed Urban Waters Federal Partnership: Partnership for the Delaware Estuary 
  • The Green-Duwamish Watershed Urban Waters Federal Partnership: Puget Sound Partnership
  • The Middle Rio Grande/Albuquerque Urban Waters Federal Partnership
  • The Mystic River Watershed Urban Waters Federal Partnership: Massachusetts Bays National Estuary Partnership

[NEW] Sustain Our Great Lakes Announces Funding Opportunity

The Sustain Our Great Lakes program is soliciting proposals to benefit fish, wildlife, habitat and water quality in the Great Lakes basin. The program will award up to $10.6 million in grants in 2024 to improve and enhance: 1) stream, riparian and coastal habitats to benefit species; 2) water quality in the Great Lakes and its tributaries and 3) invasive species control to protect restored habitat. Details about this funding opportunity are provided in the Request for Proposals. The submission deadline for pre-proposals is February 16, 2024. Additional application information is available at www.nfwf.org/greatlakes.

[NEW] Urban Ocean Lab Releases Climate Readiness Framework for Coastal Cities

Urban Ocean Lab's Climate Readiness Framework for Coastal Cities offers 70+ recommendations that enable coastal cities to better adapt to and manage climate risks; create good, green jobs and a trained workforce; build healthier and more equitable communities; and safeguard the lives of their more than 65 million residents. The framework cover coastal ecosystems, offshore renewable energy, infrastructure, community resilience, and climate-driven relocation. Read the framework here.

[NEW] Mid-Atlantic Ocean Forum Call for Abstracts

The Mid-Atlantic Regional Council on the Ocean (MARCO) is accepting proposals for presentations and panel discussions for thesixth annual Mid-Atlantic Ocean Forum, which will be held in Lewes, Delaware, on May 13-14. The Forum is the region’s premier annual event dedicated to ocean planning, gathering ocean professionals and stakeholders representing federal and state agencies, Tribal entities, marine industries, nonprofit research and advocacy organizations, and the public. Early submissions are highly encouraged. They are seeking individual presentations, interactive sessions or panel discussions on the themes outlined below. Presentations/panels/activities that facilitate dialogue and have interactive components are encouraged. The themes are: data sharing and marine spatial planning; sustainable ocean economies; ocean-climate action; and conservation and healthy ocean ecosystems. Abstracts are due Wednesday March 6, 2024. Learn more and submit abstracts here.

FEMA Reforms Disaster Assistance Program to Help Survivors Recover Faster

FEMA is reforming its federal assistance policies and expanding benefits for disaster survivors to cut red tape, provide funds faster and give people more flexibility. FEMA developed these new forms of assistance based on direct feedback from survivors and in response to threats the nation faces due to our changing climate. The changes will create more equitable outcomes for all communities by increasing accessibility and eligibility for post-disaster support. FEMA has collected feedback from disaster survivors, communities, and stakeholders for decades, including public comments the agency solicited in 2021 on improving the Individual Assistance program. State partners and members of Congress have echoed these concerns and pressed for simpler, more straightforward programs to assist individuals across the country as they recover. Those shared experiences serve as the foundation of FEMA’s updates. To learn more here and 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.

NOAA Fisheries Releases Video on Swinomish Indian Tribal Community Clam Garden

NOAA recently worked with the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community and key partners, including Washington Sea Grant, to help build the first modern clam garden in the United States. Located in Skagit Bay, Washington, the garden will provide food for the community—and environmental diversity, which is important in the face of climate change. They've produced a video on what the garden means for the Swinomish community and how they will use the harvest. Read more and watch the video here.

Volunteer for FEMA BRIC National Review Panels

FEMA is seeking volunteers from state, local, tribal and territorial governments and other federal agencies to participate on the Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) virtual national review panels. The agency is accepting Expression of Interest forms from Monday January 8, 2024–Thursday February 15, 2024. These volunteers will leverage their mitigation experience and expertise to determine how subapplications meet BRIC qualitative evaluation criteria. The virtual panels will run April 8 – May 3, 2024 on Zoom. Panelists will serve 30 hours on one weekly panel from 10 a.m.–5 p.m. ET plus a three-hour training. FEMA anticipates that participants on the panels will commit eight hours a day over the course of five business days. All reviews will be conducted virtually and there is no compensation for participating on the panels.

The agency anticipates participation in these panels will strengthen the BRIC review process by ensuring it is transparent, equitable and inclusive. It will also offer insight into new and creative ways communities are addressing different hazards, an expanded network of individuals and a fresh look at ways to contribute to community disaster resilience. For more information, visit the BRIC webpage on FEMA.gov.

FEMA Announces $2 Billion in Funding to Boost Climate Resilience Nationwide

FEMA announced 2023 funding opportunities for two Hazard Mitigation Assistance grant programs. For this grant cycle, $800 million is available for the Flood Mitigation Assistance (FMA) grant program and the $1 billion is available to the Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) grant program.The application period closes on Thursday February 29, 2024 at 3:00 PM ET. Subapplicants are encouraged to contact the state, territory or tribal applicant as they may have earlier deadlines. Eligible applicants must apply via FEMA Grants Outcomes.

Job Openings

In The States

[NEW] Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, Office of Planning and Resilience - Office Director

[NEW] Washington Puget Sound Partnership - Puget Sound Ecosystem Monitoring Program Coordinator

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

[NEW] San Francisco Bay Conservation & Development Commission - Shoreline Development Analyst

[NEW] San Francisco Bay Conservation & Development Commission - Principal Shoreline Development Analyst

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

Massachusetts Executive Office Of Energy and Environmental Affairs - CZM Chief Coastal Resilience Officer

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

Delaware Natural Resources and Environmental Control, Division of Climate, Coastal and Energy - Offshore Environmental Specialist III

California Coastal Commission - Multiple Coastal Program Positions

In The Agencies

[NEW] NOAA National Ocean Service, Management and Budget Office -  Supervisory Communications Specialist

[NEW] NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service - Marine Resources Management Specialist

[NEW] National Parks Service, Water Resources Division - Physical Scientist (Coastal Mapping Specialist)

In NGOs, Industry, and Academia

[NEW] Southeast and Caribbean Environmental Justice Community of Practice - Environment and Climate Justice Intern

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

San Francisco Estuary Institute - Shoreline Scientist

Cooperative Institute for Great Lakes Research (CIGLR) - 2024 Great Lakes Summer Fellows Program

North Carolina State University - Communications Director for NC Sea Grant, NC Space Grant and NC Water Resources Research Institute

University of Hawai'i, Hawai'i Institute of Marine Biology - Indigenous Stewardship Specialist He'eia NERR

PEW Charitable Trusts - Officer, Coastal Wetlands and Coral Reefs (International Conservation Finance)

Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation - Coastal Resilience Manager

University of South Carolina, Belle W. Baruch Institute for Marine and Coastal Sciences - Director

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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