USA - From the Editor's desk: Changes and Challenges on Many Fronts

Coastal News Today, in partnership with the American Shore & Beach Preservation Association, will be regularly publishing the FROM THE EDITOR’S DESK article by Dr. Lesley Ewing, Editor of Shore and Beach magazine, the quarterly journal of ASBPA. Full access to Shore & Beach articles is available to ASBPA members and we encourage all our readers to join this important institution on the American Shoreline.

SHORE & BEACH, Vol. 88, No. 4, Fall 2020

Changes and challenges, on many fronts

ASPBA is adapting to the conditions imposed by Covid-19. Last issue was our first all-pandemic issue. This fall, our annual Coastal Conference was held completely online. Perhaps because we spend so much time at or working on the coast—we’ve taken on some of the dynamic nature of one of our favorite places. Everyone hopes our 2021 Coastal Conference will be in person in New Orleans; but, in the meantime, congratulations to everyone who has helped with the 2020 conference.

I don’t often use my editorial to cover ASBPA news; but this time it is news related to Shore & Beach. Beth Sciaudone, Managing Editor, was named ASBPA’s 2020 Unsung Hero. I expect that anyone who has submitted an article to S&B will agree that Beth does an amazing job keeping papers on track and helping all authors through the process from submittal to publication. Beth certainly makes my job go smoothly and keeps the journal on schedule. All I can say is that this award is long overdue.

The other news is that after about two decades of guiding and supporting ASBPA, Kate and Ken Gooderham will be stepping down as Managing Directors. For years, Kate and Ken would keep ASBPA in line and push us to do better. My most enduring experience with Kate has been her unwavering expectation that I keep to her schedule. She was clear about the schedule and once she gave a deadline, it was final. This was a bit challenging and at times unnerving; but I knew her purpose was to make S&B better and her suggestions for articles and commemorative events helped tie the various ASBPA groups together. I will miss her friendship and guidance and hope to channel some of her straight-forward approach to projects. Fortunately, Ken Gooderham will continue to help S&B. In addition to working on layout and with the printers, Ken uses his prior experience as a copy editor to provide the (usually) snappy titles for my editorials. As a final S&B first, or at least first for the 21st century, we are publishing a comment and response on an article published earlier this year. Dr. Houston has been writing articles in S&B for many years, focused mostly on beach economics and sea level rise. His article about Florida’s ability to use nourishment for beaches to keep pace with sea level rise raised some concerns with Randall W. Parkinson and Danielle E. Ogurcak. A prior article by Dr. Houston also sparked response; however, it was published in a different journal. This time, the initial article, the comment letter and Dr. Houston’s response are all provided in Shore & Beach so readers can trace the threads of the discussion from soup to nuts (to borrow an expression from Cunniff et al., also in this issue).

It’s no longer remarkable to have articles on living shorelines and I’m glad of that situation. Actually, S&B has a long history of articles about dunes and dune evolution; and the “living” aspect of the dunes has also been recognized. Continuing that tradition, Drs. Jean Ellis and Mayra A. Román-Rivera, Michelle Harris, and Peter Terezkiewicz have been studying dunes and their recovery to hurricanes and ask, “Did the dunes recover?” Their paper provides the answer, how they reached the answer, and some key factors (such as pre-existing dune conditions and human influences) that are relevant to dune recovery.

Natural infrastructure, like living shorelines, is a 21st century term for some old-fashioned systems. Communities have long benefitted from the natural storm protection, water treatment, and habitat values of coastal wetlands and marsh systems. However, after years of filling, extracting, overloading, and ignoring the benefits from wetlands and intertidal zones, we’ve awoken to their value and are trying to maintain, enhance, and expand these areas. Restoration is not new; but the idea of natural infrastructure has helped highlight the many benefits provided by healthy coastal ecosystems. The Coastal Observations piece by ASBPA Director Shannon Cunniff, Douglas Janiec, Cptn. Alek Modjeski, and Dr. Jennifer Mattei, gives suggestions for natural infrastructure projects — I especially like the secret success sauce.

The article on “Adapting to Shoreline Retreat: Finding a Path Forward” by Ryan Anderson, Kiki Patsch, Charles Lester, and Gary Griggs provides an extensive examination of some of the “secret sauce” for long-term climate adaptation. The authors’ names should be familiar to S&B readers; Dr. Griggs is an active contributor and the same four authors collaborated on a paper about beach nourishment and sand retention that was published in S&B earlier this year [Griggs et al., V88(2)]. The authors draw upon their experiences with the California coast; but expand to the issues facing most of the continental U.S. with rising seas. This article covers lessons from our historic responses to shoreline change, and highlights decisions that many coastal communities will need to make as they transition from short- and medium-term responses to the coastal changes to medium- and long-term responses that will need to be effective for a coast that may differ greatly from the current one. The authors highlight that an important part of this transition is for the broad coastal community to understand the changes that are anticipated with rising sea level and have the time to think about both the future shoreline they would like to see, and the resources and steps needed to move toward this “vision.” They characterize managed retreat, just like beach nourishment and sand retention, as a tool to move closer to this shared community future.

The ASBPA White Paper on “National Coastal Management Challenges and Needs” by Nicole Elko, the ASBPA Science Director, and Tiffany Briggs is an unintended companion to the Anderson et al. paper. The coastal management challenges — deteriorating ecosystems, increased storminess, beach erosion and water quality deterioration — should be familiar to many S&B readers, especially since the ASBPA membership was surveyed to develop the list. Elko and Briggs provide details on the results and the different demographic groups who contributed to both the challenges and needs. The identified needs mirror somewhat the Anderson paper, with two of the main needs identified as long-term planning for sea level rise and collaboration/ communication (one of the ingredients of the secret sauce). If you were one of the people who responded to the survey, you definitely should read the responses provided by you and your colleagues.

This brings us back to the 2020 Coastal Conference. After you read this issue, if you attended the virtual event take some time to visit some of the conference sessions you missed during the live-streaming. A lot of presenters are working on some of the needs identified in the ASPBA White Paper. There will always be gaps in our knowledge; but it is encouraging that a number of dedicated students and researchers are compiling the data and working on ways to sustain coastal resources and developing tools to assist with current and future coastal management challenges.

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First published in October, 1933, Shore & Beach is the quarterly, peer-reviewed journal of the American Shore and Beach Preservation Association (ASBPA). The journal publishes papers that contribute to the knowledge base necessary for sound coastal decision-making and the important contemporary debates concerning shores and beaches everywhere. Content includes coastal scientific, economic, social, and political findings, coastal observations, and editorials.