Session: Shaping coastal policy through the use of multi-community collaboration, innovative tools, and available data

Moderator: Luke Frankel

Establishing coastal policies to address current and future challenges is a critical task that can be difficult due to required political coordination and a lack of information. In this session, presenters will showcase ongoing efforts to develop a multi-community estuary management plan, new planning tools for advancing resilience, and applicable data on intertidal systems and saltmarshes that can be used to inform decision-making. This session is designed for coastal stakeholders and decision-makers who want to learn more about the resources and approaches currently available to shape coastal planning and policy.


Community Intertidal Data Portal: Accessible Data Tools to Inform Decision-making in the Changing Nearshore Environment 

The Community Intertidal Data Portal (CIDP) is an interactive online collection of data products and information to support planning decisions in the nearshore environment of Casco Bay, in Southern Maine. The CIDP is targeted at municipal staff and committee members doing coastal planning, shellfish harvesters, and those working in and around the intertidal in Casco Bay. This resource was created to make intertidal data and information more accessible, foster connections between communities with an interest in the intertidal and promote a more nuanced understanding of issues within the nearshore environment. The data products currently include a shellfish conservation map viewer, story maps on sea level rise and the working waterfront, a water quality data dashboard, and a septic system data collection tool. In this session, participants will be given a demonstration of the data viewers and will be trained on how to operate the features of several data products. Through this interactive presentation, we hope to increase the awareness of the tool, streamline informed decision-making at the municipal level, and expand the resilience of communities to changes in the intertidal zone.

Sara Mills-Knapp, Greater Portland Council of Governments (GPCOG)

I am the municipal outreach and sustainability lead for the Community Intertidal Data Portal, ensuring that the needs of municipal staff are represented and that the portal supports data requirements for integrated climate action planning. I am the Director of Sustainability at GPCOG and have more than a decade of experience working on sustainability at the local level and created the GPCOG municipal climate action planning program that launched this year. I regularly coordinate with sustainability and planning staff, and convene a monthly professionals roundtable to discuss municipal sustainability issues.

Madeline Tripp, Tidal Bay Consulting

Madeline Tripp has been working with the Casco Bay Regional Shellfish Working Group since 2020, starting as a GPCOG Resilience Corps Fellow and continuing as an Associate with Tidal Bay Consulting. In this role, she assists in developing resources and tools for the wild-harvest shellfish community. Currently, she coordinates the outreach and training development for the Community Intertidal Data Portal. She’s passionate about providing accessible data and informational resources to help empower communities to become more resilient. Madeline obtained her B.S. in Geography from East Carolina University, and her background is in mapping and community outreach.


Using the New Hampshire Salt Marsh Plan to Advance Conservation in the Seabrook-Hampton Estuary

In this jointly-led session, we will introduce a set of mapping resources and then tell the story of how the Seabrook Hampton Estuary Alliance is using the information to protect salt marsh habitats. Salt marshes provide a nursery for aquatic wildlife, filter and clean water, absorb and store greenhouse gasses, and provide critical floodwater storage. But this valuable environment is extremely vulnerable to rising seas. In many places, salt marshes may not be able to keep up with rising sea levels and will need some intervention to ensure they can persist and function. A collaborative team has been using GIS tools to map and assess salt marsh resilience across NH and develop specific recommendations on how to best protect specific marshes. The Seabrook Hampton Estuary Alliance recently started using the information to prioritize and advance conservation efforts of marsh areas and adjacent uplands to allow salt marshes to expand and migrate as seas rise. We will illustrate how the mapping products can inform conservation, restoration and management and then gather ideas for saltmarsh protection and for the NH Salt Marsh Plan.

Lynn Vaccaro, Great Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (GBNERR)

Lynn works for the Great Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, which is part of NH Fish and Game. As a Coastal Training Program Coordinator, her role is to promote stewardship and the application of science through collaborative projects, workshops and outreach.

Jay Diener, Seabrook-Hamptons Estuary Alliance (SHEA)

President of the Seabrook-Hamptons Estuary Alliance, board member of the NH Association of Conservation Commissions, member of the Coastal Adaptation Workgroup, and Vice Chair of the Hampton Conservation Commission. The Seabrook-Hamptons Estuary Alliance was established for the protection of coastal and aquatic resources, and the preservation of the Seabrook-Hamptons estuarine system through education, community outreach and research. We are currently working with FB Environmental and the Great Bay Reserve on two important projects in support of our goals.


Engaging Multiple Communities and Stakeholder Groups for Development of the Hampton-Seabrook Estuary Management Plan 

The Seabrook-Hamptons Estuary Alliance and FB Environmental Associates are developing a management plan for the Hampton-Seabrook Estuary. The Plan will include a Vision for the Estuary, Current Conditions, Management Objectives, and Management Strategies. The Plan is being developed across political boundaries, in consultation with the three communities (Hampton, Seabrook, Hampton Falls) that surround the Estuary, and is intended to be a companion document to the master plans of each of those communities. Development and acceptance of this Plan will enable the communities to work in concert with one another to ensure and improve the health of the Estuary. The presentation will cover the process of engaging local stakeholders, as well as the development and current status of the Plan, which is slated for completion by the end of 2022.

Jay Diener (see above)
Laura Diemer, FB Environmental Associates

Project Manager and Environmental Monitoring Lead at FB Environmental Associates in Dover, NH. Manages water quality monitoring projects and provides technical oversight of watershed management planning projects, including the recent Hampton-Seabrook Estuary Management Plan.


Enhancing community coastal resilience through land use tools

Building climate resilience is essential for municipalities’ long-term economic, fiscal, social, and environmental well-being and local action is critical for addressing impacts of climate change and coastal hazards. Maine’s home rule status offers opportunities for municipalities to adopt creative, innovative, and flexible land use solutions that address coastal hazards and are tailored to local needs and conditions. This presentation will outline opportunities and approaches for Maine communities to incorporate coastal resilience measures in existing municipal land use mechanisms and feature model resilience ordinance language. The presentation will highlight a menu of land use provisions that municipalities can customize and integrate into existing ordinances or combine for a standalone coastal resilience ordinance to addresses local conditions, hazards, and needs. Participants will learn about new model ordinance language and land use tools that municipalities can utilize and tailor to enhance overall coastal resilience through measures such as directing development away from hazard areas, requiring flood resilient development standards, and incorporating sea level rise into development setbacks.

Abbie Sherwin, Southern Maine Planning & Development Commission (SMPDC)

I am a co-lead on the project to develop the model coastal resilience ordinance language and am a Senior Planner and Coastal Resilience Coordinator with Southern Maine Planning and Development Commission. I provide technical and planning assistance to Maine communities, specializing in coastal resiliency, climate adaptation planning, and hazard mitigation. My job centers on working with municipal planners, local officials, and regional organizations to assess climate-related vulnerabilities and implement strategies to help communities prepare for changing environmental conditions.