The towns of Scituate and Duxbury lie within the MAPC’s South Shore Coalition Subregion, along the southeastern Massachusetts coastline. Several of the prominent geographical features of this region – namely estuaries, tidal salt marshes, and extensive floodplains – leave the towns highly susceptible to rising sea levels and coastal storms. The immediate impacts of severe weather patterns on these topographic features have already been experienced: recent winter storm Juno (2015) caused massive flooding and damage to homes, roads, and infrastructure, particularly within Scituate. But even prior to Juno, the Scituate-Duxbury region realized the need to prepare for climate change and more extreme weather patterns. In 2010, MAPC awarded the region with the Direct Local Technical Assessment grant, which provided for the generation of the South Shore Coastal Hazard Adaptation Study. Not long after, the towns of Scituate and Duxbury received another grant for the purposes of studying the impacts of sea level rise. With these funds, Kleinfelder, Inc. was hired to produce a document showing the impacts of sea level rise and vulnerability within the towns; the project team was also charged with bringing potential adaptation strategies to light. These resources and stakeholder collaboration will help to expand both residents’ and municipalities’ understanding of the vulnerabilities faced and potential paths of action for ensuring the livelihood of these communities.
Scope & Strategy
MAPC is now working with Scituate and Duxbury on developing a Coastal Climate Change Resiliency Plan that builds on the South Shore Coastal Hazard Adaptation Study and the Kleinfelder, Inc. Sea Level Rise Study. The Coastal Climate Change Resiliency Plan will recommend and prioritize adaptation strategies for Scituate and Duxbury.
To efficiently focus efforts towards producing a viable Climate Change Resiliency Plan, the process will work to engage stakeholders through municipal working groups and community workshops. To support these meetings, a method for identifying, assessing, and prioritizing coastal vulnerabilities within the region will have been established beforehand. After data concerning climate change is collected, it will be overlaid onto maps of the Scituate-Duxbury region. This spatial analysis will help to identify threats to development and infrastructure, coastal resources and habitat, human health and welfare, and local economy and government. This new data will be used to identify the most pertinent climate change vulnerabilities, in the form of a preliminary assessment. Prior to these stakeholder and community meetings, MAPC staff will have gathered adaptation strategies from a variety of sources, including those within the New England region. These strategies will be compared against a criteria worksheet and evaluated based on their relevance, feasibility, and impact. After a series of meetings between municipalities, stakeholders, and MAPC staff, these strategies will be refined to create a final Scituate Duxbury Climate Change Resiliency Plan.
This project is currently in relatively early stages. MAPC team members are working to analyze climate change data from a variety of different reports and regional/local studies to determine the vulnerabilities relevant to the Scituate-Duxbury region. Simultaneously, staff are working to develop a preliminary list of adaptation and mitigation strategies. These strategies promote green rather than grey infrastructure, valuing long-term, resilient solutions.
For more information about this project, please Senior Environmental Planner at MAPC or Martin Pillsbury, Director of Environmental Planning at MAPC.