STORYTELLING AND SITE VISITS TO VULNERABLE COASTAL AREAS STRENGTHEN PARTNERSHIPS AND BUILD COMMUNITY RESILIENCE IN MAINE AND NEW JERSEY
This study highlights two projects with similar goals that address the need for coastal hazard decision support combined with the actual experience of responding to and recovering from a major storm event. The first, a NOAA Science Collaborative-funded project between the Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) and the Jacques Cousteau NERR titled “The Sandy Dialogues” brought stakeholders from two Maine towns with chronic beach erosion issues (Drake’s Island, Camp Ellis) to Tuckerton, NJ to exchange experiences and lessons learned with NJ municipal officials and community members impacted by the storm. In September 2014, these NJ stakeholders will travel to Maine to share their experiences and expertise and help co-lead community meetings in Drake’s Island and Camp Ellis with their Maine counterparts who visited NJ in June. The second event, hosted by Maine Sea Grant and supported by the Wells NERR, builds on the September “Sandy Dialogues” event. The target audience is Southern Maine coastal property owners, appointed and elected officials, planners, and others interested in decision-making related to increasing coastal resilience. Titled “Building a Resilient Coast,” this tour features ME locations that take into account, work with, or mimic natural systems to protect coastal properties, shorelines and neighboring assets (e.g., elevated infrastructure, dune restorations, and beach nourishment projects).
Both events: (1) facilitate first-hand discovery of coastal hazards and adaptation strategies through site visits in NJ and ME, (2) assist in an information exchange between coastal communities facing similar issues and challenges in ME and NJ, including discussions of practical, political, economic, and environmental barriers to implementation, (3) support and guide ME and NJ stakeholders toward more resilient adaptation choices and decisions, and (4) provide positive examples of how communities can work together to learn from shared coastal experiences.