Connecticut first for future saltmarsh advancement assessment at fine scale for entire coast.

Kayakers in the salt marsh near Old Lyme, CT. Photo Credit:Jerry and Marcy Monkman

Kayakers in the salt marsh near Old Lyme, CT. Photo Credit:Jerry and Marcy Monkman

Thanks to the Coastal Resilience Program, Connecticut is now the first in the nation to have assessed the entire coastline for future salt marsh advancement zones (where salt marsh will likely advance with projected sea level rise) down to the parcel scale.

“The bigger story here ”, said Adam Whelchel, Director of Science for the Nature Conservancy’s Connecticut Chapter, “is that Connecticut – by working with the expertise provided through our Coastal Resilience Network – was able to complete this work at the parcel scale. All other mapping efforts so far to date do not bring it down to parcel scale. Why is parcel scale so important? Because that is the level of detail or the currency through which land protection and land use policy are realized. Every change we will see on the front lines will be at the parcel scale. Without this very detailed information, you are mostly guessing with your decisions. To have this level of detail across an entire state’s coastline is unprecedented.”

Scientists, coastal planners, elected officials, real estate agents, conservationists, decision makers and the public now have access to the location and amount of salt marsh advancement that is already protected in federal refuges, state and municipal parks, and land trust preserves. These new assessments also show which parcels have unprotected advancement zones and provide a focus for future land use policy, and how much of the current built environment (roads, homes, main streets) will be in daily conflicts with tides later this century.

“What is clear is that salt marshes can and should continue to provide a cost-effective first line of defense against storms and sea level rise, explained Whelchel. “This work provides the road map for salt marshes in Connecticut over the next 100 years and what we need to do to protect them. By protecting saltmarshes, we protect our communities and our way of life in coastal Connecticut because wetlands help keep us safe. In this instance, Connecticut has become a leader in coastal resilience planning and an example for other states to follow.”

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