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Extension’s Climate Adaptation Academy Explores Legal Issues

living shoreline

Living shoreline in Stonington. Photo: Juliana Barrett.

The Climate Corps is in part a response to the ongoing work of Juliana Barrett and Bruce Hyde, two Extension educators who form the CLEAR/Sea Grant climate team. The Climate Adaptation Academy (CAA) created by the two has been engaging community officials, citizens and others for over four years, in a series of iterative workshops designed to gather input as much as to dispense information. The CAA’s latest focus is on the many legal issues that can arise at the local level as a result of climate change. A workshop in the fall of 2015 on this topic, Legal Issues in the Age of Climate Adaptation, was a sell-out and ended with a long Q&A session between workshop participants and a panel of six prominent land use attorneys. Faced with a long list of complex legal questions, only a few of which could be addressed at the workshop, Barrett and Hyde decided to pursue the matter by contacting the Rhode Island Sea Grant Legal Program (one of only four Sea Grant legal and policy centers in the nation). The result is a new series of fact sheets on high priority climate-related legal issues, which are being widely distributed and will be the basis for follow-up workshops. “We feel that we’re exploring some very important issues that have not been addressed to date, likely because they are relatively new and complex,” says Hyde. “I think this proves that the iterative nature of the CAA works, because these issues surfaced at the workshop and came straight from the towns.”

Did You Know: Climate Adaptation

One Size Fits All Won’t Work

beach houseWhen the subject of climate change comes up, the first thing that comes to mind for many people is the impact of sea level rise on coastal communities. While the impacts of Tropical Storm Irene and Superstorm Sandy grab the headlines, with dramatic pictures of flooding, collapsed houses and eroded shorelines, there are many complex and equally important climate related issues that will challenge both coastal and inland communities in the next several decades.

Climate Adaptation Academy (CAA) sessions are running on various subjects, and more are being developed. Sessions that have been held include general climate adaptation education, inland flooding issues and research, and shore protection/living shorelines. Sessions that are under development include climate impacts on agriculture, and legal coastal climate change issues.  The CAA has a website (http://clear.uconn.edu/climate/) with information on upcoming events as well as pertinent information and news on climate adaptation.

Living Shoreline Workshop

living shoreline meeting

Connecticut Sea Grant and Extension’s CLEAR hosted the second Living Shoreline Workshop in June as part of the Climate Adaptation Academy. This workshop brought over 100 participants together to hear experts from Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan and other states including Connecticut talk about different aspects of living shorelines including on the ground examples and what has and hasn’t worked.

 

A Climate Adaptation Academy for Connecticut

Modeled after CLEARseagrantanniv’s highly successful Land Use Academy, we are embarking on a new forum for land use officials and other interested professionals, a Climate Adaptation Academy (CAA). The CAA, sponsored by Connecticut Sea Grant and CLEAR, will serve as an outreach arm of the recently announced Connecticut Institute for Resilience and Climate Adaptation. We envision the CAA as an exchange of information, issues, experiences and solutions.

A series of one-day workshop for local officials and other interested professionals are under development and will focus on current climate issues and climate adaptation that will lead to resiliency. We plan to have a revolving list of topics discussed by experts based on input and needs identified by municipal officials, land use commission members and others. The agenda for the CAA will run the gamut from sea level rise and coastal erosion to storm water flooding, the national flood insurance program, energy and power outages, and legal issues associated with climate change. We will be bringing in experts from academic institutions, state and federal agencies, and the private sector – whoever we can best find to address the questions that you raise.  Each CAA will have an opportunity for you to express your needs and thoughts, and we will do our best to address those issues.

The first Climate Adaptation Academy is planned for Saturday May 3, 2014 at UConn’s Avery Point campus with an agenda that includes: Major Threats of Climate Change, Climate Change and Your Town, Flooding and Emergency Response, DEEP and Climate Adaptation, and an opportunity for you to identify what issues are most important to you.  The location of the CAA will change to include coastal and inland sessions, as well as eastern and western locations so that it is easier for people from throughout Connecticut to attend.

Watch the Connecticut Sea Grant and UConn CLEAR websites for the May 3rd agenda and registration information.  If you have any questions, please contact Juliana Barrett at Juliana.barrett@uconn.edu or Bruce Hyde at bruce.hyde@uconn.edu.