Coastal Conservancy Awards 11 Climate Ready Project Grants

On June 25, 2015, the Coastal Conservancy awarded almost $2 million for 11 competitively selected projects to help California adapt to climate change. The funding came from the third grant round of the Climate Ready program, designed to help California’s coastal and San Francisco Bay Area communities prepare for rising seas, extreme storms, drought, and other effects of a changing climate.

This grant round is funding multiple-benefit actions to reduce the impacts of climate change on coastal communities and natural resources and remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. The awarded projects were chosen from 78 proposals received. Almost $17 million was requested—a clear indication that there is a widespread, immediate, and recognized need to fund activities to reduce the effects of climate change and address its causes.

The overall purpose of the projects is to increase the resiliency of urban areas, agricultural operations, and wildlife habitats to climate change. Project objectives include demonstration and research on use of oyster beds and kelp forests to protect shorelines from sea level rise, restoring wetlands for flood protection and wildlife refuges, assessments of shoreline vulnerabilities to sea level rise and identification of remedies, and improving farm management practices to conserve rainwater, improve soil health, and increase carbon sequestration.

Climate Ready Round 3 grant awards are described in more detail below:

South Coast

  • Orange County Coastkeeper is receiving $250,000 to restore 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.
  • The Bay Foundation will use a $69,000 grant to study 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 study 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.

Central Coast

  • The Nature Conservancy was awarded $276,000 to demonstrate how climate-resilient agriculture can benefit farmers and the natural environment in the Salinas Valley. The project will develop 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. and the Central Coast Wetlands Group will use a $15,500 grant to design 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.

San Francisco Bay Area

  • The Marin County Community Development Agency was awarded $250,000 to assess the vulnerability of the Marin County shoreline to sea level rise and coordinate strategies for the protection of developed and natural areas. The project will engage 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 will build on multi-jurisdictional frameworks already established in the County and similar vulnerability assessments conducted in other parts of the State.
  • The Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy will use a $135,000 grant to plan 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 will be 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.
  • The San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory was awarded $150,000 to restore 12 acres of wildlife habitat that is part of the South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project site in Santa Clara County. 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.
  • The Napa County Resource Conservation District will use a $90,000 grant to 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.
  • The Marin Resource Conservation District was awarded $325,000 to identify and develop 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.

North Coast

  • The Marin County Open Space District will use its $165,000 grant to develop 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 will be conducted in partnership with the Gulf of Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, and Point Reyes National Seashore.
  • Friends of the Dunes was awarded $249,000 to assess and prepare for the vulnerability of the Humboldt County coastline to sea level rise and other effects of climate change. The 32-mile-long 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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