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Coastal Resiliency

Ocean Action Plan Updates

Here is a closer look at some of the exciting projects we are working on through the New York Ocean Action Plan!

The Breach Contingency Plan

Damage caused by Hurricane sandy
Pictured above are two aerial photos of Fire Island and Pelican
Island, pre and post Hurricane Sandy. Photo provided by USGS.

In October 2012, Superstorm Sandy caused three breaches (link leaves DEC website) located along the barrier islands in Suffolk County. This lead to the first ever activation of the New York Breach Contingency Plan (link leaves DEC website) in partnership with the US Army Corps of Engineers, which began procedures to close the breaches. Ultimately, two of the three breaches were closed. However, the last breach, which occurred on Fire Island within the Otis Pike Fire Island High Dune Wilderness Area, (link leaves DEC website) remains open, shown in the photo to the right.

The Old Inlet Breach Monitoring Project and Great South Bay Project have been established to evaluate the effects of the barrier breach on the biological communities and ecosystem health in the Great South Bay. These projects collect pre-Sandy data (from 2007), compare it with post-Sandy data, and continuously monitor changes. Data indicate that since the breach, there has been an increase in biodiversity and number of warmer water fish using the habitats of the bay. This information contributes to climate change awareness and planning as well as accomplishment of Action 44 and 48.

Long Island LIDAR Mapping and Orthoimagery

After the devastation following Superstorm Sandy, NOAA collected high resolution elevation data (LiDAR) to track pre- and post-storm coastal zones. The data collected helped determine sea-level rise effects along the coastline. These data also aided in the remapping of Coastal Erosion Hazard Area (CEHA) on Long Island and in eastern Westchester. This imagery utilized various model tools, such as Sea Level Affecting Marsh Migration (SLAMM) (link leaves DEC website), to predict marsh migration from the Hudson River and throughout Long Island. This project was completed in 2012 and helped determine which areas were most affected by the storm.

Following Superstorm Sandy, oblique map imagery was used for emergency responses in New York City, Westchester and Long Island. The imagery data collected, along with help from other data sets, has proved to be an effective tool during Coastal Erosion Hazard Area permit reviews, enforcement cases, and coastal construction projects.

This information aides Actions 44, 45, 46, and 49 goals of examining the impacts of coastal flooding and improving resiliency strategies.

Living Shorelines

Living shorelines (link leaves DEC website) are defined by NOAA as protected and stabilized shorelines made from natural materials such as plants, sand, or rock. Living shorelines are advantageous against hard shorelines because they serve as carbon sinks, provide nutrient pollution remediation, fish habitat provision, and storm buffers.

Recently, DEC announced guidance on "Living Shoreline Techniques in the Marine District of New York State" (PDF, 2.5 MB) that emphasizes living shorelines as a solution to better protect New Yorkers against threats posed by erosion, extreme weather and sea-level rise. The guidance also provides details on different types of living shorelines and proper siting, maintenance and monitoring considerations for shorelines that support Action 47 of the OAP.

Climate Change & Community Involvement

Damage to a pathway in Mount Loretto Unique area
Superstorm Sandy damage located in
Mount Loretto Unique Area, Staten Island.

In September 2014, Governor Cuomo signed the Community Risk and Resiliency Act (CRRA) into law. CRAA includes five major provisions that will advance New York's climate change adaptation strategy and promote the goals of Actions 45, 46, and 49 of the OAP.

Additionally, the Climate Smart Communities Program is a network of New York communities that remain committed to reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and improving climate resilience strategies. Through the expansion of climate resilient communities, we can adequately adapt and plan for the future while meeting goals outlined by OAP Action 50.

For additional information, visit How To Get Certified or contact the Office of Climate Change.