The Coastal Conservancy and Climate Change
The California coast faces unprecedented impacts from a changing climate. California is already experiencing rising seas, coastal erosion, extreme heat waves, severe storms and associated flooding, a succession of droughts, and intense wildfires.
The Coastal Conservancy has worked for nearly 50 years to preserve and restore California’s incredible coastal resources; now there is an urgent need to make the coast more resilient to the changing climate. Our Climate Ready Program supports projects that address climate change impacts to protect coastal communities, wildlife habitat, cultural sites, and public access now and into the future.
The urgency of the climate crisis combined with recent investment of state funding creates an opportunity for the Conservancy to take bold action on climate resilience. Through our Climate Ready program, we fund and provide technical support to local communities, nonprofits, agencies, and other partners to plan multi-objective climate change adaptation strategies along the coast and to implement nature-based adaptation projects. The Conservancy prioritizes projects benefitting communities that are most vulnerable to climate change impacts and have limited capacity to plan and implement adaptation projects.
Climate Ready funding is awarded through our rolling pre-application process described here.
Sea Level Rise
Sea-level rise is already accelerating along the California coast and will continue to increase substantially over the 21st century. Coastal wave events and rising sea levels are causing flooding, saltwater intrusion into coastal groundwater aquifers, and will increase coastal erosion, impacting beaches and cliffs throughout the state. A 2023 presentation on the impacts of sea level rise on the California coast from Dr. Patrick Barnard (USGS) and Mary Small (Coastal Conservancy) can be found here.
The Coastal Conservancy has more than $550 million in state funding available to address urgent sea level rise adaptation. The priority is to fund nature-based solutions and to address vulnerability of disadvantaged communities. The Conservancy will fund planning and implementation of sea level rise adaptation projects to prepare our beaches, natural areas, and infrastructure from rising seas. This funding is awarded through our rolling pre-application process described here.
Multi-benefit Nature-Based Climate Adaptation
The Conservancy prioritizes projects that deliver multiple benefits and significant positive impact. We support nature-based adaptation approaches, such as living shorelines and habitat restoration, to increase resilience, sequester carbon, address extreme heat and drought, or promote regenerative agriculture or biodiversity, particularly in urban settings. These projects may include capacity-building, planning and design, technical assistance, implementation, or developing pilots or proof-of-concept projects that can then be scaled up via partner implementation funding. This funding is awarded through our rolling pre-application process described here.
Wildfires driven by multiple, interacting factors are burning larger areas, hotter and more intensely. Recent wildfires have devastated coastal parklands, impacting recreational infrastructure and wildlife habitat. Climate change is extending the periods of wildfire risk and increasing the likelihood of future fires.
Through our Wildfire Resilience Program, the Conservancy is supporting partners to develop and implement a broad array of projects that improve ecological health of natural lands and reduce the risk of catastrophic fire in areas where people live. To advance the goals of the California Wildfire and Forest Resilience Action Plan, we fund planning to identify priority projects, technical assistance, permitting and environmental review costs so that multiple projects are ready to implement throughout our jurisdiction. We fund demonstration and pilot projects, grazing, prescribed burns, forest thinning, invasive plant removal, and other implementation projects to reduce wildfire risk, as well as projects that collaborate with Californian Native American Tribes to implement traditional ecological knowledge and expand cultural burning.
Resources used by the Conservancy to Prioritize Climate Funding
SB 1066, Lieu, enabling the Conservancy to prepare for and adapt to the effects of climate change and take action against its causes.
Climate Change News
- News Release: State Coastal Conservancy Awards $78 Million for Climate Resilience, Public Access, Habitat Restoration and Wildfire Resilience(Sacramento, CA) – Today (6/1/2023), the Board of the State Coastal Conservancy authorized funding totaling nearly $78 million for 34 projects to protect and restore coastal lands, increase coastal resilience to climate change, improve public access to the coast, and reduce the impact of wildfire on coastal lands. “Our California coast is under growing threat […] (Read more on News Release: State...)
- Press Release: Coastal Conservancy Awards over $13 million in Grants for Coastal Access, Restoration, and ResilienceCoastal Conservancy Awards over $13 million in Grants for Coastal Access, Restoration, and Resilience 12/1/2022, Pacific Grove, CA – Today, the Board of the State Coastal Conservancy approved grants for 17 projects, totaling over $13 million, for coastal access, restoration, and climate resilience. Included in the grants approved today were $3.5 million for the Regionally Advancing […] (Read more on Press Release: Coastal...)
- Amy Hutzel Appointed New Executive Officer of the State Coastal ConservancyThe State Coastal Conservancy is pleased to announce the appointment of its new Executive Officer, Amy Hutzel. Ms. Hutzel previously served as the Conservancy’s Deputy Executive Officer and has been with the agency for over twenty years, during which she has been instrumental in many key projects including the restoration of thousands of acres of […] (Read more on Amy Hutzel Appointed...)