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Steering Committee Progress Report - Sea Level Rise Task Force

Prepared by Robin Schlaff

The NYS Legislature charged the Sea Level Rise Task Force with "assessing the anticipated impacts of sea level rise, as well as providing recommendations related to actions the State may take to protect areas at risk of damage, adaptive measures and regulatory and/or statutory changes."

Staff from the DEC Climate Change office assisted in drafting the Framework for Implementing the Work of the New York State Sea Level Rise Task Force to guide the task force and steering committee in achieving this goal. A copy was emailed to all members of the steering committee and task force and has been posted on the task force website. A listserv has also been created for the task force and those interested may subscribe using GovDelivery.

The steering committee has organized into four workgroups (ecosystems, infrastructure, legal, and public outreach). The workgroups have solicited members from a broad array of state and local government, stakeholder groups, and private industry, making sure that representatives from vulnerable communities are included in every step of the process.

The ecosystems and infrastructure workgroups have started the work of identifying "at risk" natural habitats and infrastructure. The legal and public participation workgroups have framed out their respective game plans for the next year. We have made substantial progress in the last two months through the valuable contributions of members who have added this work to their already full plates. They are a very impressive group.

As chair of the steering committee I have assumed several tasks - one is to connect with the various agencies and NGO's working on this issue by attending as many of their meetings as possible and including the appropriate technical steering committee members in communication. We do not have the time or resources to start from scratch and there is no need to. There is already a wealth of information that has been collected by agencies like ACOE, environmental groups like The Nature Conservancy, and state agencies like SEMO and others. At today's meetings you will hear from three groups who will be issuing reports on similar issues: Adam Freed, chair of the NYC Climate Change Task Force, Kristin Marcell, who is on the steering committee for the Rising Waters project in the Hudson Valley, and Amanda Stevens who is managing the state climate change assessment project for NYSERDA.

As chairs of the workgroups we are committed to collaborating to make sure that we present a comprehensive and consistent message to the public on the amount and potential effects of sea level rise and the development of recommendations to respond.

We will continue to work together using the best available science to guide our assessment along with a clear vision to outline the most efficient and effective ways to respond to sea level rise along our coastlines in New York State.

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