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Reducing Our Risk
Organization: American Littoral Society – Northeast Chapter
The Jamaica Bay Marsh Restoration Initiative increased community resiliency to climate change by restoring salt marsh islands in Jamaica Bay through community-based stakeholder collaboration. Restored wetlands increased coastal buffers mitigating waves, wind, tides and floods in the bay and reduced the risk of damages to surrounding neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens. Hurricane Sandy demonstrated the value of coastal environments in protecting adjacent communities: healthy, large expanses of salt marshes lessoned the energy of incoming waves, helping to reduce the damage to inland communities. In Jamaica Bay, these important coastal environments had been destroyed or diminished due to erosion, pollution, fill and alteration. The resulting damage to the surrounding community from storm surges, wind, fire, and flooding cost the community over $19 billion. The Initiative reestablished and restored important resources, provided a “green infrastructure” answer to the problem of community vulnerability, and engaged community members as stewards. The Initiative demonstrated the viability of community-led restoration as a sustainable and economically-viable solution to global issues: climate change with sea level rise, increasing storms, and coastal community vulnerability.