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Municipal policy priorities in three coastal communities in the Northeastern United States recognize effects of global climate change

Uiterwyk, Kristin, Kritzer, Jacob P., Novelly, Allison, Smith, Sarah Lindley, Starbuck, Kimberly, Wiggin, Jack
Ocean & coastal management 2019 v.168 pp. 177-184
climate change, coastal zone management, coasts, fisheries management, governance, interviews, issues and policy, landscapes, pollution load, sea level, shorelines, stakeholders, water temperature, Northeastern United States
Coastal areas are confronted with a wide range of challenges stemming from their location at the land-sea interface. These challenges exist at a variety of spatial scales, and fall under the jurisdiction of governance authorities with responsibilities at different levels ranging from local to international. This study focuses on coastal environmental issues identified specifically at the municipal level. A policy landscape analysis of three communities in the Northeastern United States based on stakeholder interviews and review of local media, management plans, and government documents revealed several common challenges, including fisheries management, nutrient loading, and shoreline management. Despite these similarities, the relative importance of different issues varied from place to place. Major effects of climate change, such as sea level rise and increasing water temperatures, were not identified explicitly as priority issues by any of the three communities; however, climate change either directly causes or exacerbates many of the issues identified during the policy landscape analysis. Therefore, our study demonstrates that coastal communities in the region are already facing and addressing issues related to climate change. Our methodology provides an expedient approach for others to identify issues of coastal environmental concern in other communities. This can help determine the extent to which the similarities and differences in identified issues are common across broader geographic scales, and in particular whether effects of climate change are pervasive in coastal communities.