Climate Ready Program

Zuma Beach in Malibu

Photo: Jose Bedolla

In 2013, the Coastal Conservancy launched its Climate Ready Program to help California’s communities prepare for the effects of climate change and mitigate its causes. Through the program, the Conservancy supports construction and planning projects that:

  • help communities prepare for sea level rise, beach and bluff erosion, extreme weather events, flooding, and rising temperatures
  • protect water quality, wildlife habitats, farmland, working forests, and recreational lands
  • reduce greenhouse gas emissions and capture greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.

Climate Ready Grants

Through three competitive grant rounds the Conservancy has awarded $7.3 million for 42 projects whose objectives include assessments of shoreline vulnerabilities to sea level rise, creating greener and cooler parks in inner-city neighborhoods, restoring and enhancing coastal and San Francisco Bay natural resources, and improving farm management practices to conserve rainwater, improve soil health, and increase the capture of greenhouse gases. The strong responses to the grant announcements—186 proposals seeking $40 million—demonstrate California’s unmet needs and the willingness of diverse communities to join in preparation for the considerable challenges ahead.

The Conservancy has no current plans for a fourth Climate Ready grant round. Interested parties, however, may be eligible to apply for grants funded through California’s Proposition 1. Information about the Conservancy’s Proposition 1 grant rounds can be found here.

Climate Ready Grants Awarded

San Diego County

City of Imperial Beach, $300,000, January 2014

The City of Imperial Beach is assessing the vulnerability of its outer coast to sea level rise and identifying adaptation strategies to protect natural areas and human communities. The study is analyzing risks from flooding, storm surges, and erosion related to expected SLR and help the City develop plans for improved resilience. The work complements similar studies for San Diego Bay/Otay River on the City’s northern boundary and Tijuana River and Estuary on its south.

San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, $150,500, January 2014

The San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research is restoring 25 acres of endangered coastal sage scrub habitat near the western shoreline of Lake Hodges. The restoration will increase the area’s resilience to expected effects of climate change by reducing the frequency of fires and providing a corridor for wildlife to migrate to more favorable climatic environments. Climate change is expected to increase the frequency of fires in the area, and the restored habitat will be far less susceptible to fires than the non-native grasslands it will replace. The protected land surrounding Lake Hodges is an important wildlife corridor between the natural environments of coastal Del Mar and the rural mountains to the east.

Orange County

Orange County Coastkeeper, $250,000, June 2015

Orange County Coastkeeper is restoring native Olympia oyster beds and eelgrass habitats in Newport Bay that will demonstrate how living shorelines might be used to protect shoreline areas from sea level rise and storm surges resulting from climate change. This will be the first use in Southern California of this technique, which has shown promising results in San Francisco Bay. In addition to shoreline protection, living shorelines provide valuable habitats for fish, birds, and other wildlife.

Los Angeles County

Heal the Bay, $169,000, January 2014

Heal the Bay, working with Green LA Coalition, is compiling information on the benefits, costs, and feasibility of three Living Streets programs in the City of Los Angeles that address causes and expected effects of climate change. The three programs are Complete Streets, which encourages use of streets by bicycles, pedestrians, and public transit vehicles to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; Green Infrastructure, by which street designs and materials help capture rainwater for reuse and prevent its runoff; and Cool Streets, through which reflected materials embedded in asphalt reduce the absorption of solar heat and lower the surrounding temperature. The information will inform the City of the costs and benefits of Living Streets programs and help guide street maintenance and utility policies.

North East Trees, $160,600, January 2014

The nonprofit organization North East Trees is working with Los Angeles County to transform a derelict two-acre parcel of land in the Highland Park area into a community park planted with drought-tolerant plants and native trees and containing features that capture and control stormwater runoff. The project site is owned by the City of Los Angeles and located between the Arroyo Seco and the 110 freeway. A primary purpose of the project is to demonstrate landscaping practices that can counter expected effects of climate change and reduce concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The park will include a vegetated swale with river rocks, boulders, and native grasses that will trap pollutants from stormwater runoff and promote its infiltration into underground aquifers.

Council for Watershed Health, $150,000, January 2014

The Council for Watershed Health is analyzing the feasibility of large-scale capture of rainfall in the Los Angeles area and storing it in underground aquifers. Four large groundwater basins in the County with over one million acre-feet of additional capacity could potentially store the over 380,000 acre-feet (1.23 billion gallons) of rainfall that flows unimpeded to the ocean in an average year. Capture of a significant portion of this rainfall would augment local water supplies, reduce reliance on imported water, and help move the Los Angeles region toward water independence.

City of Hermosa Beach, $100,000, January 2014

The City of Hermosa Beach is assessing the vulnerability of the City’s infrastructure to sea level rise and identify adaptation strategies. The assessment will include monitoring of shallow groundwater levels and salinity to determine how future SLR is likely to affect sewage systems and stormwater management, water lines, utilities, and below-grade structures. Results of the assessment will be used to develop plans to prevent and manage floodwaters, protect against rising groundwater levels, and protect ocean water quality.

Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and Harbors, $69,815, January 2014

The Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and Harbors is assessing the vulnerability of the County’s coastal beaches to sea level rise and plan for their protection. The world-renowned beaches are immensely important to the region’s culture and economy, but rising seas and storm surges resulting from climate change threaten their continued existence. The County manages 17 beaches between Malibu and San Pedro that attract more than 50 million residents and visitors annually. The ultimate goal of the project is to prepare an adaptive management plan for those beaches with a range of strategies for their preservation.

County of Los Angeles Department of Parks and Recreation, $100,000, January 2015

The County of Los Angeles Department of Parks and Recreation is transforming the popular Eugene A. Obregon Park in East Los Angeles into a model “green park” that will help the community adapt to effects of a changing climate, including reduced rainfall and rising temperatures. The revamped park will feature drought-tolerant trees, plants, and grasses to reduce water use plus basins and swales to collect stormwater and allow it to percolate into the ground. The County is using the Conservancy’s funds to replace 30,000 square feet of dark asphalt with light-colored porous pavement that will enable underground capture of rainwater while cooling the pavement surface and surrounding air.

The Trust for Public Land, $200,000, January 2015

The Trust for Public Land is transforming an underutilized alley at 51st Street and Avalon Boulevard in South Los Angeles into a “green alley” that will be integrated with the life of the community. The alley’s existing black asphalt will be replaced with a light-colored permeable surface that will capture stormwater and allow for its storage underground. Local volunteers will join in planting fruit trees and climbing vines and making the alley a fitting place for outdoor recreation and social gatherings. Along with its neighborhood benefits, the alley will reduce flows of polluted and trash-laden stormwater to Compton Creek, the Los Angeles River, and, ultimately, the ocean.

From Lot to Spot, $205,939, January 2015

From Lot to Spot is restoring an area along one-half mile of Dominguez Creek in Hawthorne. The restoration will include plantings of 60 trees and more than 1,500 native plants plus renovation of an existing bike path that is expected to draw more than 12,500 annual users. Students at Environmental Charter High School in nearby Lawndale will help design and maintain the project and enlist community support for its construction. In 2012 From Lot to Spot restored another area along the creek south of Rosecrans Avenue, and the current project is modeled on the success of that earlier restoration.

The Bay Foundation, $68,833, June 2015

The Bay Foundation is researching how kelp forests off the Palos Verdes Peninsula may dampen wave energy and influence current flow, thereby providing protection to shorelines from sea level rise and extreme storms resulting from climate change. The Bay Foundation will conduct the research in conjunction with its restoration of kelp forests, which are valuable habitat for a wide variety of fish. Kelp forests have been devastated in southern California and in many areas replaced by “urchin barrens,” where purple urchins dominate rocky reefs and prevent kelp from re-establishing.

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Santa Barbara County

County of Santa Barbara, $200,000, January 2014

Santa Barbara County, working with the cities of Carpinteria, Santa Barbara, and Goleta, is assessing  the vulnerability of the County’s southern shoreline to expected effects of climate change and identify adaptation strategies. The assessment will include modeling to determine potential damage from sea level rise, intensified storm events, flooding, and shoreline erosion. Existing studies indicate that climate change poses significant risks to communities, critical infrastructure, recreational facilities, beaches, and natural areas. The study will include an evaluation of how wetlands, reefs, and other natural buffers can fit into shoreline defenses.

San Luis Obispo County

Coastal San Luis Resource Conservation District, $308,309, January 2015

The Coastal San Luis Resource Conservation District is demonstrating on-farm practices that will help ranchers adapt to drought, extreme storms, and other effects of a changing climate. Rangeland operations throughout the State are suffering from decreased productivity from drought that reduces forage production and water availability for livestock. At the same time, they are threatened with more extreme storms and flooding that can wash away soils. Management practices, however, can help soils retain rainwater and minimize erosion while improving wildlife habitats and increasing the capture of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, from the atmosphere. The demonstration site is located at the base of Hollister Peak near Morro Bay and will be open to presentations and field tours.

Monterey County

The Nature Conservancy, $150,000, January 2014

The Nature Conservancy is conducting a cost-benefit analysis of strategies for adapting to sea level rise in southern Monterey Bay. The study will build on a 2012 report analyzing coastal erosion mitigation strategies and a recently completed study funded by the Coastal Conservancy that examined future SLR effects at the parcel level. The new study will incorporate climate change effects into the 2012 study and refine its spatial focus. It will also make use of social surveys and economics to motivate communities to consider climate change in local planning and regulatory programs.

The Nature Conservancy, $276,000, June 2015

The Nature Conservancy is demonstrating how climate-resilient agriculture can benefit farmers and the natural environment in the Salinas Valley. The project is developing strategies for cooperative management of water supplies and floodplain uses along the Salinas River to reduce flood risk, recharge groundwater, lessen regulatory burdens on farmers, and improve wildlife habitats. The work will expand a recently established model that covers 10 miles of the river and involves local growers, government agencies, and the Grower-Shipper Association of Central California.

Coastal Conservation and Research, Inc., $15,500, June 2015

Coastal Conservation and Research, Inc. and the Central Coast Wetlands Group are designing the restoration of sand dunes at Salinas River State Park. The targeted dunes are a natural barrier to ocean waters that could flood thousands of acres of low-lying farmland and wetlands and are highly vulnerable to erosion from sea level rise and extreme storms resulting from climate change. The design will identify how to make the dunes more resilient to erosion while improving their value as wildlife habitat.

Santa Cruz County

Resource Conservation District of Santa Cruz County, $163,000, January 2014

The Resource Conservation District of Santa Cruz County, working with the University of Santa Cruz, is investigating ways to capture stormwater and store it in underground aquifers to improve the reliability of water supplies. Changing rainfall patterns resulting from climate change, including less frequent but more extreme storm events, are expected to strain the County’s ability to supply water for residential and commercial use. Although construction of new surface reservoirs in the County has been deemed infeasible, it may be possible to significantly improve the capture of rainwater in underground aquifers. The study will analyze past, present, and projected runoff patterns to identify potential sites for underground water storage. Knowledge derived from the study is expected to be applicable to other regions of the State.

Resource Conservation District of Santa Cruz County, $200,000, January 2015

The Resource Conservation District of Santa Cruz County is helping Pajaro Valley farmers adapt to the effects of climate change through the use of practices to reduce use of irrigation water, limit soil erosion, and improve soil health and resiliency to extreme weather. The Pajaro Valley, located in southern Santa Cruz and northern Monterey Counties, has the highest per-acre farm production value in California. It supports an $895 million dollar agricultural industry that is threatened by droughts that reduce water availability, extreme storms that cause flooding and topsoil erosion, and sea level rise that exacerbates saltwater intrusion into underground freshwater aquifers.

Santa Cruz, San Mateo, and Santa Clara Counties

Sempervirens Fund, $100,000, January 2014

The Sempervirens Fund is investigating the feasibility of establishing a carbon bank for the Santa Cruz Mountains region that would provide an economic incentive to landowners for the protection of redwoods as an alternative to logging or development. Coast redwoods store considerable amounts of carbon and, in doing so, remove vast amounts of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. Through the sale of carbon credits, owners of forested lands in California can profit by protecting redwoods, but the development, verification, and monitoring costs of carbon offset projects can be very high. Aggregating many small properties could potentially achieve an economy of scale that would make a carbon bank economically viable for the small landowners that make up most of the Santa Cruz Mountains.

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San Mateo County

San Francisco International Airport, $200,000, January 2014

The San Francisco International Airport is convening a multi-agency working group to study the vulnerability of a shoreline area northwest of the airport to sea level rise and prepare adaptation strategies. The area, where San Bruno and Colma creeks meet the bay, contains residential neighborhoods that have been subject to severe flooding, habitat for threatened and endangered species, and substantial public infrastructure including two major highways, Caltrain and BART lines, the San Francisco Bay Trail, two sanitary sewage treatment plants, and multiple flood control channels and pump stations. The study complements the airport’s SFO Shoreline Protection Feasibility Study, whose purpose is to develop a shoreline protection system that will protect the airport from flooding and rising seas.

San Francisquito Creek Joint Powers Authority, $200,000, January 2014

The San Francisquito Creek Joint Powers Authority is designing a pilot project to protect against flooding of a portion of the Bayfront Expressway (State Highway 84) between the Dumbarton Bridge and Ravenswood Slough. The project will incorporate restoration of wildlife habitat in adjacent former salt ponds as part of the flood-control measures, and the design will also provide for closing a gap in the San Francisco Bay Trail. Information from the project will be used to design similar flood-control/habitat-restoration projects needed in the area.

San Mateo, Solano, and Sonoma Counties

Trust for Conservation Innovation, $235,647, January 2015

The Trust for Conservation Innovation is establishing demonstration grassland restoration plots on grazing land at three Bay Area locations: TomKat Ranch in San Mateo County, Rush Ranch in Solano County, and Sears Point in Sonoma County. The California Rangeland Conservation Coalition will conduct the work, which will include plantings of native perennial grasses, management and monitoring of the plantings, and sharing of results with land managers and ranchers throughout the State. The project is expected to demonstrate how native grasses can be used to make rangelands more resilient to effects of climate change—longer dry spells, reduced rainfall, and higher temperatures—while improving habitats for wildlife.

San Francisco

Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, $135,000, June 2015

The Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy is planning for climate-change adaptations to Crissy Field in San Francisco. The work will include an assessment of the site’s vulnerability to sea level rise and associated storm surges and development of adaptation strategies. It is being conducted as part of a greater effort to preserve and enhance the popular site and ensure that it is prepared to optimally serve the community in the coming decades.

Santa Clara County

Bay Area Ridge Trail Council, $63,000, January 2014

The Bay Area Ridge Trail Council is working with the San Francisco Bay Trail Project to examine how public hiking and biking trails, together with mass transit, can most effectively be managed to reduce car usage and emissions of greenhouse gases. The study will focus on the South Bay Trail network, which includes the San Francisco Bay Trail, Ridge Trail, and several creek trails, and enlist the support of local governments, major companies, and others already involved in transportation management programs.

San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory, $150,000, June 2015

The San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory will restore 12 acres of wildlife habitat that is part of the South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project site. The targeted area includes high marshes and neighboring uplands that will help wildlife adapt to rising sea levels. The work will include mapping, seed collection, ground preparation, and planting of native vegetation.

Alameda County

East Bay Dischargers Authority, $200,000, January 2014

The East Bay Dischargers Authority is researching strategies for changes to regional wastewater discharge that would protect facilities from sea level rise and potentially use treated wastewater to enhance the growth of wetlands vegetation. The study will examine the costs and benefits of decentralizing discharge facilities, many of which are currently vulnerable to rising seas. It will also look at the possible use of treated but nutrient-rich wastewater in wetlands to build shoreline buffers and capture and sequester carbon from the atmosphere.

Save the Bay, $125,918, January 2015

Save the Bay will restore 1.75 acres of wildlife habitat on the upper edge of San Francisco Bay marshes—the “transition zone” between tidal wetlands and uplands. Healthy transition zones can respond quickly to rising sea levels by migrating inland, ensuring that valuable marsh habitats are maintained while providing flood protection to shoreline communities. The restoration site is within the Eden Landing Ecological Reserve in Hayward adjacent to 2.5 acres whose restoration is already underway. About 1,000 volunteers are expected to assist in the restoration work, which will include replacement of invasive vegetation with plants native to the bay.

Alameda County Resource Conservation District, $250,000, January 2015

The Alameda County Resource Conservation District will install, improve, and repair livestock watering facilities on 6,260 acres of the Sunol Regional Wilderness. The watering facilities include developed springs, stock ponds, troughs, pumps, pipelines and storage tanks that date back to the 1950s and are well beyond their expected useful life. The new and refurbished facilities will allow grazing practices that are adaptable to drought and other effects of climate change while protecting wetlands and other sensitive wildlife habitats. Lessons from and results of the project will be shared with land managers and ranchers throughout California through meetings, workshops, and other outreach efforts.

Contra Costa County

The Watershed Project, $202,206, January 2015

The Watershed Project will improve the water quality of Baxter Creek by building two bioswales—vegetated, shallow ditches that collect and filter stormwater—in the parking lot of Booker T. Anderson, Jr. Park in Richmond. The section of Baxter Creek that runs through the park was restored in 2001, but runoff from the parking lot continues to pollute the creek. The project will benefit shoreline habitats of San Francisco Bay, less than a mile downstream, and will add to almost twenty years of restoration efforts along different sections of the creek. It will also make the park more resilient to aggravated flooding expected from climate change and will serve as a model for restoring the creek in other areas.

Solano County

City of Benicia, $150,000, January 2014

The City of Benicia is assessing the vulnerability to rising seas of shoreline and community assets including shoreline parks and trails, the Port of Benicia, the Benicia Industrial Park, and wildlife habitats. The City will use the assessment to create an adaptation plan to mitigate identified risks. The City’s goals are to better prepare the community to deal with future effects of climate change, to focus on how to make a key City asset–the Industrial Park–more resilient to climate change, and to evaluate how to integrate adaptation planning into City governance.

Napa County

Napa County Resource Conservation District, $90,000, June 2015

The Napa County Resource Conservation District will plant 5,000 seeds from five species of oak trees in the Napa River watershed over a three-year period. The project will expand the distribution of oaks, provide important wildlife habitat, increase the sequestration of carbon dioxide, and improve the watershed’s water-holding capacity. Elementary students will be engaged in planting and monitoring activities in conjunction with science education classes.

Napa, Marin, Sonoma, and Mendocino Counties

Sonoma County Regional Climate Protection Authority, $100,000, January 2014

The Sonoma County Regional Climate Protection Authority is assessing the vulnerability of North Bay lands to effects of climate change and identifying ways to deal with those effects. The assessment will include analysis of expected changes in temperature, rainfall, water flows, and risks of fire and flooding. The work is being done in partnership with several local government agencies and private organizations and covers lands in Napa, Marin, Sonoma, and Mendocino counties.

Marin Resource Conservation District, $325,000, June 2015

The Marin Resource Conservation District is identifying and developing farm management practices that can significantly decrease atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide and methane, both potent greenhouse gases. The practices will improve the capture and sequestration of carbon in vegetation and soils while improving soil health and farm productivity. The program builds on work successfully conducted by the RCD and expands it to rangelands, vineyards, orchards, other croplands, forestlands, and horse facilities in Napa, Marin, Sonoma, and Mendocino counties.

Marin County

Marin County Community Development Agency, $250,000, June 2015

The Marin County Community Development Agency is assessing the vulnerability of the Marin County shoreline to sea level rise and coordinating strategies for the protection of developed and natural areas. The project is engaging local communities, public and private organizations, and individuals in a comprehensive effort to understand the risks of sea level rise and identify means to reduce or avoid those risks. It is building on multi-jurisdictional frameworks already established in the County and similar vulnerability assessments conducted in other parts of the State.

Marin Resource Conservation District, $200,000, January 2014

The Marin Resource Conservation District developed projects on three local farms to demonstrate management techniques that can decrease atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide and methane, both potent greenhouse gases. The techniques were developed through the Marin Carbon Project and were based on improved methods to capture and sequester carbon in vegetation and soils. Widespread adaptation of the techniques could have a significant effect on surplus carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, much of which comes from working lands management practices.

Marin County Open Space District, $165,000, June 2015

The Marin County Open Space District is developing a plan for adaption to sea level rise at the north end of Bolinas Lagoon. The plan will incorporate restoration of wetlands and creeks to improve wildlife habitat while addressing flooding that has occurred at the intersection of Olema-Bolinas Road, Highway One, and Bolinas-Fairfax Road. The planning is being conducted in partnership with the Gulf of Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, and Point Reyes National Seashore.

Sonoma County – Bay Side

National Audubon Society, Inc., $200,000, January 2015

National Audubon Society, Inc. will improve water drainage and wildlife habitat in marshlands along Sonoma Creek south of Highway 37. Abandoned levees in the marsh—a former hayfield—cause water to pond for long periods, leading to high populations of mosquitoes and degraded habitat for wildlife. California Audubon will excavate drainage channels, build refuge areas for wildlife, and, using excavated materials, construct a 10-acre, gradually sloping transition zone on the marsh’s edge that will provide flood protection for neighboring lands. The work will help the area adapt to effects of climate change including sea level rise, extreme storm events, and warming temperatures.

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Sonoma County – Coast Side

Gold Ridge Resource Conservation District, $166,708, January 2014

The Gold Ridge Resource Conservation District is helping farmers and fish in western Sonoma County adjust to expected changes in rainfall patterns and water availability resulting from climate change. The expected changes include an extended and warmer dry season and a compressed rainy season that will threaten water supplies for farmers and habitats for salmon and steelhead trout. The RCD is designing large-scale rainwater catchment and storage systems for five farming operations as demonstration projects and installing structures within streams to make their habitats more resilient to climate change.

Gold Ridge Resource Conservation District, $218,270, January 2015

The Gold Ridge Resource Conservation District will construct a 1.4-million-gallon pond and rainwater catchment system that will enable a dairy to stop diverting water during the summer from Salmon Creek. The creek contains historic habitat for coho salmon and steelhead trout, whose survival is threatened by reduced rainfall resulting from climate change. The project will allow the Westview Jerseys Organic Dairy to capture rainwater from a barn roof and store it for use in the summer, when reduced stream flows are particularly damaging to the fish. The project, designed in part through a 2013 Climate Ready grant, will eliminate one of the largest summer diversions of water from the creek.

Humboldt County

City of Arcata, $86,000, January 2014

The City of Arcata is developing tools and programs to protect against sea level rise that threatens shoreline lands and facilities, including the wastewater treatment plant. The City will design a 22-acre “living shorelines” area on Arcata Bay to serve as a buffer against rising seas, investigate how private landowners might be enlisted for additional protection, and evaluate the potential of more than 900 acres of planned and existing marshlands to sequester greenhouse gasses from the atmosphere.

Friends of the Dunes, $249,246, June 2015

Friends of the Dunes will assess and prepare for the vulnerability of 32 miles of the Humboldt County coastline to sea level rise and other effects of climate change. The planning area includes four major barrier spits that protect the Humboldt Bay and Eel River estuaries and which contain coastal dune wildlife habitats, archeological sites, and water delivery and wastewater treatment facilities. The project will include establishment of demonstration sites to show how vegetation management and other techniques can be used to maintain the integrity and resilience of the dune system.

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