This blog has previously discussed the importance of building climate resilient cities, and how the need for resilient habitats will become increasingly important with changing weather systems and climate. With President Trump’s proposed budget cuts to the EPA, it appears that our efforts to combat climate change will take a severe blow. The federal government is not the only actor in the fight against climate change, however. Localities, although lacking the autonomy and spending power of the federal government, can still make their cities safer, more resilient, and better prepared for the coming changes in climate. This post will highlight some of the ways localities are preparing for changing weather systems.
New Jersey Sand Dunes
Following serious flooding from a Nor’easter in 1992, New Jersey began implementing “snow fencing,” a project to rebuild sand dunes and make them more resilient. This occurs by placing dirt and sand on depleted sand dunes and planting dune grasses to help anchor the dunes. Although these defenses are not sufficient to prevent serious damage, between 1992 and 2012, the dunes were built to an impressive 25ft height and 150ft width. When Sandy hit the New Jersey coast in 2012, the dunes helped mitigate some of the damage.
Nashville’s “Front Porch”
After a 2010 storm in which 14 inches of rain over a two-day period caused serious property damage and 11 deaths, Nashville took aggressive action to prevent future catastrophes. Among their projects was a Riverfront Park incorporating “green infrastructure.” This infrastructure has flood control measures, including green-roofed pavilions and water capture systems capable of storing 375,000 gallons of water for park irrigation.
Sante Fe River Restoration
Decades of development and groundwater use resulted in an extremely depleted and degraded Sante Fe River. This river actually posed safety hazards for many residents and threatened property during serious storms. Recently, the city began revitalizing a 1.5-mile section of the river to help reduce flooding. This revitalization included “buffer areas” along the stream with walking trails and native plants that have been beneficial for tourism and wildlife, while “boulder drops” have helped stabilize the stream’s banks.
These are just a few stories of how a focus on resilient infrastructure can provide benefits to people, cities, and the local plant and wildlife. Resiliency measures are easy to carry out without federal involvement and can be done on small scales by individuals, families, or communities. For more information about successful resiliency projects, please click here.