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Increasing Resiliency of Beach Habitats and Species

Increasing Resiliency of Beach Habitats and Species in the Face of Storms and Sea Level Rise

Increasing Resiliency of Beach Habitats and Species

Coordinated effort by Landscape Conservation Cooperative (LCC) partners to integrate existing data, models and tools with foundational data and assessments of both the impacts of Hurricane Sandy and the immediate response to guide decisions about where to conduct what beach restoration, management and conservation actions to sustain ecological function, habitat suitability for wildlife and ecosystem services including flood abatement in the face of storm impacts and sea level rise.

This coordinated effort through the LCCs 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.  This includes integration and expansion of results from an ongoing sea level rise response modeling project being supported by the LCC and conducted by USGS Coastal Geology Program, Virginia Tech and other State, Federal, and NGO partners to couple predictive models of sea level rise, beach geomorphology, and habitat for piping plovers.  These decision support models will be expanded from Maryland and Virginia to include New Jersey, New York and other states impacted by the Hurricane. Data from past and ongoing studies of beach stabilization projects will be incorporated to inform near-term resiliency projects as well as longer-term planning for conservation of sensitive habitats in the face of sea level rise and storms.  The project focuses on sustaining integrity of coastal beaches, ecosystem services provided by these beaches including flood abatement and persistence of sensitive beach species.  The threatened piping plover will serve as a surrogate species for habitat modeling, but implications for oystercatchers, least terns, black skimmers, sea-beach amaranth (federally-threatened plant), northeastern beach tiger beetle (federally threatened insect), red knot (candidate for ESA listing), and other migrating shorebirds will also be addressed.  Partners include LCCs, CSCs, USGS, NPS, NWRs, States, Universities, NGOs and the Atlantic Coast Piping Plover Recovery Group. This project also depends upon, complements, utilizes and integrates foundational data, impact assessments and modeling being completed (immediate needs) or proposed by USGS for DOI mitigation funding including Bird Responses and Vulnerability, Forecasting Ecological Impacts of Storms, Impacts and Vulnerability of Coastal Beaches, Fire Island, and Assateague projects.

A network of partners agreed on collaborative next steps at the Piping Plover meeting in January.  USGS has developed an app for i-phones (i-plover) for plover stewards to use to record key attributes of plover nesting habitat on beaches throughout the northeast region. Pilot efforts with this application will take place on National Wildlife Refuges and National Parks in 2014. Assessments of the impact of Hurricane Sandy and beach management on beach nesting birds have begun in New Jersey and on Long Island through Rutgers University, Conserve Wildlife NJ and Virginia Tech. An inventory of beaches, inlets and modifications along the Atlantic Coast will conducted starting in the spring of 2014.

$1,750,000

Coastal beaches of states affected by Hurricane Sandy

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