Hurricane Sandy Recovery
Recovery, restoration & building coastal resilience
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Increasing Resiliency of Beach Habitats and Species in the Face of Storms and Sea Level Rise

Location: CT, DE, MA, MD, ME, NH, NJ, NY, RI, VA

Project type: Resilience

Funding awarded: $1.75 million

Project Summary

This coordinated effort through the Landscape Conservation Cooperative (LCC) working with DOI Bureaus, Northeast Climate Science Centers (CSC), coastal states, tribes, NGOs and university partners will integrate existing monitoring results, models and tools with foundational data and impact assessments to guide decisions about where to conduct beach restoration, conservation and management to sustain ecological values, ecosystem services and habitat suitability of beaches in the face of storm impacts and sea level rise in the Hurricane Sandy region.

Conservation Goals

  • Provide support for a collaborative effort to improve the capability to evaluate the effect of coastal change in piping plover (and other beach-dependent species) habitat availability and utilization, through efficient field data collection, compilation and analysis using iPlover application. Develop and refine models relating sea level rise to beach response to habitat suitability along with predictions of the effect of beach habitat management on habitat.
  • Develop a protocol to rapidly identify and prioritize for protection newly created beach-nesting bird (BNB) breeding habitat along the U.S. Atlantic Coast in the wake of severe coastal storms. The intent is to use long-term nest monitoring data from New Jersey and statistically robust habitat modeling techniques to model changes to BNB habitat suitability in New Jersey resulting from Hurricane Sandy and assess the subsequent anthropogenic impacts of storm recovery efforts at these sites.
  • Conduct fieldwork to assess migratory shorebird habitat use under both natural processes and coastal stabilization concurrent with the early part of the hurricane season and piping plover breeding season on Long Island, including an assessment of the use of piping plovers as a surrogate species for beach habitat conservation.
  • Inventory modifications to both tidal inlet and sandy, oceanfront beach habitats along the Atlantic coast from Maine through Virginia pre Hurricane Sandy and immediately after Hurricane Sandy.
  • Enhance the Designing Sustainable Landscapes model with coastal systems and species more fully incorporated to the index of ecological integrity and landscape capability models. Dynamic coastal response to sea level rise outputs from USGS will also be integrated.
  • Develop fine-scale GIS layers that can be integrated with other ecological integrity assessment tools and used to identify sites with the highest estimated site resilience. The layers to be produced include: accretion/erosion rates, slope, average tidal height, average wave height, relative sea level rise rate, elevation diversity, marsh migration space, sediment supply, freshwater flushing rates and anthropogenic barriers.
  • Decision support tools, maps and monitoring results from the North Atlantic LCC marsh and beach Hurricane Sandy coastal resiliency projects will be made available and delivered along with other coastal resiliency information to decision makers at scales and formats needed.

Project Products

  • Modeled outputs and a comprehensive report that summarize regional future-casting of the effects of sea-level rise and future beach management decisions on piping plover nesting suitability. Additional investigations into sea level rise effects on American oystercatchers (Haematopus palliatus), least terns (Sternula antillarum) nesting suitability will be conducted and summarized.
  • Evidence-based support for beach nesting bird managers to protect critical habitats for piping plovers (Charadrius melodus), American oystercatchers (Haematopus palliatus), least terns (Sternula antillarum), and black skimmers (Rynchops niger) in New Jersey. The project will synthesize existing information with model results to develop a technical report with quantitative habitat restoration targets, as well as thresholds of habitat suitability and triggers for initiating management.
  • A comparison of changes in density, distribution and condition of piping plovers in the vicinity of filled and unfilled breaches and overwashes and other areas on Fire Island New York to inform tidal inlet and beach management strategies.
  • Thorough inventories summarizing by state, the modifications to both tidal inlet and sandy, oceanfront beach habitats along the Atlantic coast from Maine through Virginia pre Hurricane Sandy, immediately after the storm and three years after Hurricane Sandy.
  • Enhanced Designing Sustainable Landscapes model with enhanced coastal inputs and landscape capability models for coastal species.
  • Fine scale (30 m resolution) GIS layers integrated with other ecological integrity assessment tools useful to identify sites with the highest estimated site resilience, sites of high vulnerability to climate change, and sites where management of particular characteristics could increase its potential resilience.
  • Workshops and other training where coastal managers can learn about the results of the scientific investigations and modeling as well as spend time exploring the applicability of the products for their programmatic needs.

Project Partners

Additional Resources

North Atlantic Landscape Conservation Cooperative Coastal Resiliency Beach Project Description

North Atlantic Landscape Conservation Cooperative Beach and Tidal Inlet Inventory Project Description

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Last updated: October 21, 2016