October Is “Building a Stronger Coast” Month

salt marsh Chafee NWR
salt marsh Chafee NWR

Restored salt marsh at Chafee National Wildlife Refuge in Rhode Island. Credit: Ayla Fox

Hurricane season usually starts winding down in October, and we can only hope that the season closes quickly this year.

This storm season has shown just how vulnerable our coastal areas are, with 13 named storms including two category 5’s (Irma and Maria) and two category 4’s (Harvey and Jose). More than a hundred people have died in the United States and territories, and millions of people are still struggling through the aftermath of these destructive storms. Our hearts are with them, including our FWS staff who are out on the front lines in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Florida and Texas.

Many citizens are wondering what can be done. As communities begin the arduous task of rebuilding what was lost, it’s important to consider how “natural” infrastructure can make coastlines more resilient — the marshes, wetlands, beaches, free-flowing rivers and oyster reefs that help absorb storm energy and reduce flooding.

Natural infrastructure can’t stop the storms from coming; but it can help lessen the impacts – immediately, and long into the future. Natural infrastructure reduces the impacts of storms and sea-level rise and helps communities recover more quickly. And these natural areas have huge value for wildlife and people all year round – in the form of ecotourism, outdoor recreation, cleaner water, cleaner air, improved health and more.

saltmarsh sparrow

Healthy coastal marsh habitat is critical for the survival of the saltmarsh sparrow. Credit: ACJV

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – along with many partners at the federal, state and local levels – is working with nature to build a stronger coast. We’ve been restoring marshes and beaches, building living shorelines, removing dams and conducting innovative science to help guide conservation efforts into the future.

In October we’ll be highlighting some of this work on our blog and through social media – including a dam removal in urban New Haven, Connecticut, a river restoration in Rhode Island, a beach restoration in New Jersey and more. Much of this work was funded in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, which closed out the 2012 storm season with a bang on October 29.

The destruction caused by Sandy provided a window of opportunity to help wildlife and people prepare for and adapt to a changing environment by creating a more resilient coast – one that uses natural infrastructure to help lessen the damage of storms and sea-level rise while providing important natural areas that wildlife and people need.

Join us in our vision to build a #strongercoast.

Gandy's Beach oyster reef living shoreline

Gandy’s Beach in New Jersey, where new oyster reef living shorelines are helping buffer wave energy to the coast. Credit: Steve Droter

One Comment on “October Is “Building a Stronger Coast” Month

  1. Pingback: Taking marsh restoration to a new level | U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Northeast Region

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