Coastal wetlands of the Great Lakes protect North America's longest freshwater shoreline.  They are able to reduce the impact of storm surges, absorb excess water, and reduce the risk of flooding to nearby properties.  A diverse and resilient system of Great Lakes coastal wetlands provides invaluable and cost-effective protection for coastal communities.

What is the current status?

[Here, would insert 2 very short paragraphs describing the current status, based on our analysis.]

* Flood damages to coastal communities are ____ (less near coastal wetlands? amount of damages?)

* Describe the amount of flood damages due to storms - can they be mitigated by CW?

* The presence/nearness of CW impacts the average number of flooding claims (metric) ....

How do Coastal Wetlands relate to flooding?

  • Coastal wetlands can store flood water (one acre can store 3 acre-feet, epa.gov)
  • Coastal wetlands have been shown to attenuate wave damage (Silander and Hall, 1997)
  • Coastal wetlands can buffer storms and prevent erosion (conservationgateway.org Coastal Wetlands and Flood Damage Reduction Report)
  • Coastal Wetlands are able to reduce storm surge

What is our objective?

Objective:

Metric: 

This objective addresses our goal because...

[why does the objective address our goal, short paragraph]

Sustainable economic and social benefits follow in the wake of restored or preserved ecological functions.  As coastal wetlands are preserved and restored, they will be better able to provide the water retention and buffering functions that protect coastal communities.  While these provide multiple socioeconomic benefits, our analysis showed that protection from flood damage was uppermost on the list of metrics that concern coastal communities.

[Download this Summary button]

This metric is associated with our goal (Goal 3) of a resilient system of Great Lakes coastal wetlands with characteristics supporting positive and sustainable economic and social benefits.  We chose a goal that relates to social and economic benefits, rather than just to ecological benefits, to highlight the interconnectedness of nature and people.  The benefits of coastal wetlands are not isolated from the needs of people who live in their vicinity.

People value what they can see, measure and connect to an economic cost.  To this end, the Coastal Assembly chose to include an overall goal that calls out socioeconomic benefits and will support it with metrics that matter to people and coastal communities.

Analysis of potential socioeconomic metrics with a decision support tool consistently showed that flooding-related damage was a top metric of concern for coastal communities.  Potential socioeconomic metrics were ranked according to weights chosen by the Coastal Assembly.  A flooding-related metric was consistently ranked among the top metrics regardless of weight. The metric of number of properties damaged had the most functional and accessible dataset available.  We chose to explore the relationship between the presence of functioning coastal wetlands and the risk of property damage from flooding.

 

This metric will then reflect both social and economic values for the people who live in affected areas.

Our first goal was to calculate the flooding risk for Great Lakes shorelines, then to correlate the presence of coastal wetlands with flooding damages.

[this will include specifics on how the data were used to calculate a 'status']

                Started with a baseline for number of properties damaged per year over…10 years?

                Current number is (above or below) 10 year average –

                Or the  trend over the last few years is 'improving', 'same', 'declining'?

Findings:              [this section includes an overview of the data available and how it works]

Our intention is to show an overall view of the potential protective effect of coastal wetlands on flooding of coastal communities.  The variability in storm surges and wave action makes exact forecasting problematic.  Some challenges include:

  • Difficulty of obtaining consistent information for U.S. and Canadian side
  • Difficulty of quantifying relationship with actual coastal wetland protection/restoration/enhancement
  • Resolution may not be on a small enough scale to document a specific relationship
  • Fluctuating water levels (at record highs right now) a confounding factor
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