PROVIDENCE – Environmental and regulatory leaders in Rhode Island said the state needs to step up its awareness of climate change and sea level rise, develop plans to deal with them, and then begin implementing them. The Rhode Island Shoreline Change Special Area Management Plan, called Beach SAMP, is in progress and the review of it presented Wednesday at the Statehouse was mainly a call for broad collaborative action by municipalities, state and local agencies, colleges, businesses and individuals.
“This is a huge problem and there will be severe repercussions, including economic repercussions, if we don’t get ahead of it,” said Grover Fugate, executive director of the R.I. Coastal Resources Management Council. “The problem is, it’s a national issue, and everyone says we have a big problem, but no one is sure yet how to deal with it.”
One suggested step forward in the complex process would be to create a Coastal Adaptation Innovation Center that develops strategies across a broad spectrum and integrates them as federal, state and local guidelines evolve, said Fugate.
That would be a possible solution to what Rhode Island Association of Realtors Legal Counsel Monica Staaf said could be helpful for the organization’s 4,000 commercial and residential brokers, sales representatives and appraisers.
“There are so many acronyms of agencies and groups working on climate change in Rhode Island, it would be helpful for businesses and the public is there is one central place to go for information on climate change,” said Staaf.
Amanda Martin, a planner with the R.I. Division of Planning, said the agency is developing maps to highlight areas vulnerable to climate change that can help municipalities and businesses make wise investment decisions.
“The mapping project will help determine how climate change will impact economies and jobs, and help in developing strategies for cities, towns and businesses,” said Martin.