The Maryland Department of Natural Resources and The Nature Conservancy of Maryland/DC has announced the completion of a Coastal Resiliency Assessment on existing natural features that protect coastal residential communities in the state.
The study identified areas that reduce the risk of coastal hazards and determined priority areas for coastal conservation and restoration activities.
“Our coastal areas host very dynamic and ever-changing landscapes that require innovative tools, technologies and services to address weather-related challenges, such as sea-level rise,” said Chesapeake and Coastal Service Director Matthew Fleming.
“The new assessment was developed by us for use by practitioners at the state and local level. It identifies areas most at risk and provides essential data on how best to enhance and improve resiliency.”
Some of the study’s key findings include:
- Coastal habitats can reduce flooding and erosion impacts, with forests and wetlands playing the greatest roles. These areas significantly protect 22 percent of Maryland’s shoreline;
- Marshes play a particularly important role in risk-reduction along the Tangier Sound in Somerset County, and the Assawoman Bay and Isle of Wight Bay shorelines in Worcester County;
- The majority of high risk exposure occurs along the Lower Eastern Shore (Dorchester, Somerset and Worcester counties);
- Shoreline hardening, transportation infrastructure, and development prevents habitat from playing a role in protection, most notably on the Western Shore. Hybrid approaches, such as living shorelines that incorporate structural components, may be more appropriate in these areas.
The statewide assessment was conducted in partnership with The Nature Conservancy in Maryland/DC, in collaboration with the Natural Capital Project, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and additional federal, state and local partners.