Monday, October 17, 2016

Climate Change is an Issue for all

By Beth Sullivan
Most of the readers of this blog have a deep respect and love for our natural resources. You love the forests and meadows and coastal vistas, marshes, beaches, and waterways. And most of you are aware that our coastlines are imperiled by changes in our environment and rising sea levels.
The marshes along our coast protect us now, but will be inundates in the future. Photograph by David Young.

As climate changes, storms increase and waters are already rising in areas that have never seen such flooding. People who live along the coast are constantly made aware of the dangers and responsibilities of living in a threatened area. There is insurance. There are ways to raise houses and roads.
But what about our land? What about the marshes that naturally protect our neighborhoods and infrastructure? What about the plants that are being drowned by rising water, and plants that are being killed by slowly increasing salinity in ground water? What about the wildlife that resides only in these habitats? Birds that nest on the ground on low beaches or in salt marsh grasses are in danger of losing the only habitats where they can survive.
As marshes retreat, the salt water will begin to impact the edges of the upland woodland.

Big hunks of peat fall off the marsh edge and the land recedes.

Many towns along the CT coast have already begun to develop plans, to map out vulnerable areas, and seek out advice and grant monies to help deal with the enormous expenses of protecting our homes, “our habitats”.
The beautiful meadows at Knox Preserve are mostly dry now...
...but rising tides and storms have increased the wetland areas.
Dodge Paddock was forever changed by Hurricane Sandy. Photograph by Roger Wolfe.

Restoration at Dodge Paddock had to include plans for resiliency and higher water levels.

The towns of Stonington and Westerly are working on public awareness programs to discuss resiliency in the face of rising water, both along the coast and along the Wood-Pawcatuck River. Please take time to attend one or more of these upcoming events.
Stonington will present the first of its public information sessions on October 20 at 6pm at Mystic Aquarium. Visit for more information. That same day, at 10am in the morning, the Wood-Pawcatuck River resiliency plan will be discussed at the Westerly Library. Visit the Wood-Pawcatuk Watershed Association's web page here for more information.
We need to be fully aware of the impacts of climate change, not just in the next century, not the next decade, but in the next year. We were lucky to have missed the most recent hurricane, or we would have been experiencing those impacts today.

Photographs by Beth Sullivan, unless otherwise noted.

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