On YouTube: Living Shorelines - What Are They and Are More NY Communities Embracing Them?
New York Shorelines - News

New York, NY, July 2, 2019 - Helen Cheng, New York Sea Grant's Coastal Resilience Specialist at CUNY Brooklyn's Science and Resilience Institute at Jamaica Bay, and Kathleen Fallon, NYSG's Coastal Processes and Hazards Specialist, engage in a discussion on Fox 5 NY News about living shorelines.

Living Shorelines include natural features - predominantly consist of organic materials. They work to absorb (lessen) some wave action and flooding. These features not only protect shorelines, but conserve, create, or restore natural shoreline functions.

The segment on Fox 5 NY News zeroes in on what's being done to combat rising sea levels as we learn from superstorm Sandy and other major storms many local shorelines are vulnerable to flooding.

For more on the topic of living shorelines, see www.nyseagrant.org/nyshorelines

Also, here are some of the topic points that Cheng and Fallon prepared for the discussion: 

Are more communities embracing living shorelines?

- Yes, many coastal communities are supportive of it. They like the idea of bringing back the natural landscape along with the animals, fish species, etc. 

- People are also being more of living shorelines option and are environmentally conscious.

- For example, a living shorelines can bring new coastal habitats, which can bring back important fishery species and possibly boost recreation

- It is getting people close and/or back into nature

Rather than protecting natural shorelines, they are being destroyed. How is this happening?  

As sea level rises, salt marshes and wetlands should migrate upward and inland; however, with coastal development along the shoreline they/ vegetation have nowhere to go, especially if there is a huge city like NYC behind those salt marshes. 

If you go to a lot of shore communities, like the Jersey Shore, you see a lot of seawalls. Is it feasible to replace them with living shorelines?

 - This would require more studies, both on physical processes, ecological function, and even socio-economic benefits, and would probably require doing some sort of cost- benefit analysis.

- Case by case and also matters what is most important to the community. For example, in a study in North Carolina a failing bulkhead was successfully replaced with a living shoreline.

What about dunes? Do they offer good protection?

- Dunes provide many benefits to both the community and beach. If a storm impacts the shoreline they act as a barrier, protecting landward assets. Additionally, dunes act as a sand storage, as waves attack the dune, sand is dispersed on the beach replacing the sand that has already been eroded. 

- However, in order to provide this protection, we must protect and maintain the dune system. And one method of doing this is by planting beach grass. 

- Beach grass helps to keep the dune stabilized.

- “Its dense roots and long leaves allow for sand accumulation that leads to dune formation and stabilization. Dunes buffer ocean waves and thus protect the coast and coastal communities from storms and sea level rise.  

- It is important to remember to keep yourself, family, and pets on designated pathways on beaches.

- You can also help by participating in beach grass plantings; many of these opportunities occur with local environmental groups 

How much does a living shoreline cost? / How do you build one?

This is case by case and if a shoreline manager is interested in building a living shoreline it is important for them to get in touch with their permitting agency as soon as possible (e.g., USACE, DEC, and DOS, DEP, NYC Parks) 

What can communities do to protect a living shoreline / dune? What should they need to know?

- Living shorelines are innovative.
- There are many benefits to living shorelines including bringing back species, recreation, protection, conservation, restoration, improving water quality, air quality, bringing back natural landscape, maintaining natural processes.
- We still don't know much about living shorelines especially when faced with urban centers.

- There are locations that have embraced living shorelines but we would need to adapt those strategies if we choose to bring more of them to NYC.

- For dunes, don’t walk on them, don’t litter.

Where are there examples of living shorelines in NYC?

- Brooklyn Bridge Park

- Randall’s Island

- Areas around Jamaica Bay (southern Brooklyn, southern queens) - Sunset Cove, Bayswater

- People are creating oyster reefs (benefits similar to living shorelines)

What about oyster reefs?

- NYC are putting a lot of efforts to bring back oysters. Before the 1900’s, history exclaims,  there were many oysters in NYC harbor, however due to overharvesting, development, influx of water pollution etc, now there are few to none. 

- Folks from DEP and environmental groups are bringing back oysters not to eat but to clean our waters (A single oyster can filter about 30 to 50 gallons of water every day) and protect shorelines - oysters break up wave action, dissipating the energy before it reaches the shore  You should not eat oysters from NYC Harbor. 

What is the connection between sea level rise and living shorelines?
- Living shorelines are able to absorb excess waters ie. that comes with flooding.

- Technique to mitigate and adapt to rising water levels.

- However as sea levels are rising and there is less room for shorelines to migrate, this is causing concern about sustainability of shorelines.

- Many people are thinking about ways to look at nature in a new arrangement, with living shorelines, rain gardens - creating new connections with our parks and trying to thicken the natural edges of coastal areas. 

What is the connection between sea level rise and extreme events?

- When a storm impacts a community, it brings an associated surge, which is an increase in water. During Superstorm Sandy, NYC saw what a 6 foot plus storm surge could do. If sea levels rise, this surge will only be exacerbated. Bringing more water further inland.

- NYS adopted projected sea level rise scenarios for the three regions (LI, NYC, Hudson) in 4 time intervals using low to high projections. For example, in NYC they anticipate 11-21 inches of rise by 2050s.  

- We provide programming for coastal communities in highlight information, tools, and resources that address flooding and coastal hazards  For example, we lead a series of public forums, in bringing experts such as scientists, emergency managers, and agencies to the communities to have a dialogue with each and share information and perspectives. 

- In Jamaica Bay, we are leading a citizen-community science program in reporting flooding events and their impacts in communities. Community members that experience flooding in their communities can participate by going to Jamaica Bay's Community Flood Watch Project and help raise awareness of the flooding is NYC and how it is impacting well being and livelihood. And the data we are collecting will help improve flood forecasts and flood models. 

- Some additional news items on flood watch include: "On YouTube: Jamaica Bay Community Flood Watch Project" and "In Photos: Resilience Professionals and Citizens Help Build Community Resilience at Flood Forum."

More Info: New York Sea Grant

New York Sea Grant (NYSG), a cooperative program of Cornell University and the State University of New York (SUNY), is one of 33 university-based programs under the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Sea Grant College Program.

Since 1971, NYSG has represented a statewide network of integrated research, education and extension services promoting coastal community economic vitality, environmental sustainability and citizen awareness and understanding about the State’s marine and Great Lakes resources.

Through NYSG’s efforts, the combined talents of university scientists and extension specialists help develop and transfer science-based information to many coastal user groups—businesses and industries, federal, state and local government decision-makers and agency managers, educators, the media and the interested public.

The program maintains Great Lakes offices at Cornell University, SUNY Buffalo, SUNY Oswego and the Wayne County Cooperative Extension office in Newark. In the State's marine waters, NYSG has offices at Stony Brook University in Long Island, Brooklyn College and Cornell Cooperative Extension in NYC and Kingston in the Hudson Valley.

For updates on Sea Grant activities: www.nyseagrant.org has RSS, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube links. NYSG offers a free e-list sign up via www.nyseagrant.org/nycoastlines for its flagship publication, NY Coastlines/Currents, which is published quarterly. Our program also produces an occasional e-newsletter,"NOAA Sea Grant's Social Media Review," via its blog, www.nyseagrant.org/blog.

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