Beach SAMP Unveils Final Chapters on Coastal Resilience Plan

By Cynthia Drummond | Courtesy of the Westerly Sun

NARRAGANSETT — The developers of the latest Shoreline Change Special Area Management Plan, or Beach SAMP, unveiled the final chapters of the document at a meeting Thursday at the University of Rhode Island’s Graduate School of Oceanography. Chapter 6 examines state and municipal considerations, and Chapter 7 addresses adaptation strategies.

While it is a product of the latest scientific data and tools, the beach plan is also based on the same principles of transparency and public consultation that were instrumental in the success of its predecessor, the Ocean SAMP. That management plan is credited with paving the way for the construction of the Block Island Wind Farm.

The focus of the new Beach SAMP is risk: assessing hazards to the Rhode Island coast from storms and sea-level rise and the ways communities and property owners can adapt to them.

Coastal Resources Management Council Executive Director Grover Fugate, who introduced the new chapters, said government agencies such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency have formulated mitigation plans based on current conditions, which do not reflect what is expected to happen in the coming decades.

“They do not anticipate future conditions,” he said. “They don’t contain the information that you need to build for future conditions. That’s where the Beach SAMP provides that information.”

The management plan is a flexible document that has been designed to adapt to conditions as they change.

“It is intended to guide applicants and others in this assessment of risk and the conditions that we have and then lay out a process for applicants to follow as they make it through our application process,” Fugate said.

“In addition to that, we will be developing a component in our regulatory program that will require applicants to go through that.”

Coastal Resources Center Research Associate Teresa Crean presented Chapter 6, which explores the idea of the state enabling legislation and regulatory strategies that coastal municipalities can employ to become more resilient.

“Where can we think about where Rhode Island general laws can be revised to enable municipal governments to follow through with some of the recommendations that are coming out of the Beach SAMP, with the CRMC leading by example?” she said.

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