Virginia Eastern Shore Planning for a Changing Coast
Creating More Resilient Coastlines on Virginia’s Eastern Shore: A new tool is helping Virginia Eastern Shore communities plan for a changing coast
Picture a place along the Eastern Shore of Virginia that you love. Do you fish there? Plant clams there? Go kayaking, birding or swimming there? If you live along the coast or a tidal creek on the Eastern Shore, you’re probably well aware of how the coast provides you with things you need and love — seafood, clean water, protection from storms and beautiful places to relax and explore.
But the coast is changing. Virginia’s Eastern Shore lies within the Mid-Atlantic, the nation’s most threatened coastal region, where sea levels are rising at three to four times the global average and storms are predicted to intensify. What does this mean for the places you love on the Eastern Shore? And what does it mean for the people, homes, roads, schools, and businesses located here?
Despite the risks, communities and local decision-makers have little access to the data and information they need to plan to reduce risks and protect people and nature from these dramatic changes. The effects of sea-level rise and storm surge on familiar places can be hard to understand and visualize—until now.
This week, The Nature Conservancy and a consortium of partners including the Accomack-Northampton Planning Commission, University of Virginia, and NASA-Wallops Flight Facility are publicly releasing the first iteration of the state-of-the-art Coastal Resilience online mapping and decision support tool for the Virginia Eastern Shore as part of an approach to help local communities plan for a changing coast using the best available science and local data. This project is funded in part by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Hurricane Sandy Coastal Resilience Fund awarded to the Conservancy in 2014.
With The Nature Conservancy’s Coastal Resilience tool, Eastern Shore decision-makers, business owners and citizens in Accomack and Northampton counties can now explore different flooding scenarios from sea level rise and storm surge, analyze the potential impacts on communities, natural resources and critical infrastructure like roads and schools, and develop nature-based solutions where possible to address these realities.
“Decision-makers and planners need clear, compelling and credible information to pro-actively plan for increasing risks in the future due to rising seas and extreme storms,” says Jill Bieri, director of The Nature Conservancy’s Virginia Coast Reserve program. “The Coastal Resilience tool will help determine the most resilient and vulnerable places on the Eastern Shore to help support communities in prioritizing how, when and where to act and adapt in order to lessen potential impacts of flooding and storms.”
Ready to learn more about how this tool can help protect your community and its resources?