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Using Natural and Nature-Based Features to Build Resilience to Storm-Driven Flooding

beach with living shoreline

Overview

APNEP is collaborating as a project partner on a NOAA Coastal Resilience Grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration awarded to the Virginia Institute of Marine Science.  The project is focused on increasing the use of natural and nature-based features (NNBFs) to increase resilience of coastal communities to flooding caused by storms and extreme weather events. The project is designed to include interaction with local government officials as the target audience for project generated data and guidance.

Project Purpose

Natural and Nature Bases Features in Gwynn's Island, VirginiaThe project includes development of tools that allow local planners in coastal counties in Virginia to determine suitable areas to implement natural infrastructure.  The effort will assist local communities in implementing successful natural infrastructure plans that have co-benefits including water quality improvements and flood risk reduction.  The project team will work with agency representatives to identify opportunities and criteria for using NNBFs to increase resilience to flooding and simultaneously generate credits for local governments in other resource management and hazard mitigation programs such as:

  • National Flood Insurance Community Rating System
  • Chesapeake Bay TMDL program for nutrient and sediment load reductions; and
  • Virginia stormwater management program.

Project Partners

Virginia Institute of Marine Science, Virginia Coastal Policy Center, Wetlands Watch, Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary Partnership

APNEP's Role

APNEP will work with the project team and other partners to evaluate applicability of the basic products in North Carolina coastal localities to plan for possible extension of the guidance developed in this project to areas beyond coastal Virginia. APNEP staff anticipating soliciting feedback from North Carolina agency personnel to develop an evaluation of opportunities and limitations to extension of the project outputs beyond Virginia in 2019.

Stakeholder Collaboration

This project involves collaboration with multiple state agencies (Virginia Departments of Conservation and Recreation, Environmental Quality, Emergency Management, and Transportation), and outreach to every one of Virginia’s coastal localities (there are 37 counties and independent cities in Virginia’s coastal zone).  APNEP anticipates working with analagous entities in North Carolina and non-governmental partners.  

What are Natural and Nature-Based Features?

  • Natural Features are created and evolve over time through the actions of physical, biological, geologic, and chemical processes operating in nature.  Coastal features evaluated for this project include wetlands, tidal marshes, beaches, sand dunes, forests, trees, and oyster reefs.   
  • Nature-Based Features mimic characteristics of natural features, but are created by human design, engineering, and construction to provide specific services such as coastal risk reduction.  Features evaluated for this project include living shorelines (marsh and oyster sills, breakwaters).  

APNEP Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (CCMP) actions addressed:

  • A2.2: Create and improve projections of land use and climate change related impacts on the regional ecosystem. 
  • B3.1: Assist local governments in the development of incentives for protecting natural shorelines.  
  • D3.3: Provide assistance to state, regional, and local governments to incorporate climate change and sea level rise considerations into their planning processes.