Date of Award

Spring 2018

Project Type

Thesis

Program or Major

Natural Resources

Degree Name

Master of Science

First Advisor

Catherine Ashcraft

Second Advisor

David Burdick

Third Advisor

Steve Miller

Abstract

Flooding, coastal erosion, and storm surge pose immediate and increasing risks to our nation’s coasts. In response, both federal and state environmental and natural resource agencies are calling for strategies to promote coastal resilience, such as living shorelines. Living shorelines are shoreline stabilization and restoration techniques that aim to reduce damage from erosion and storms and promote ecosystem functions. Despite policies promoting living shorelines, there are significant challenges to implementing living shorelines in the state of New Hampshire. Using statewide stakeholder interviews, case-specific focus groups, and document analysis, this research analyzes the institutional barriers and opportunities to implementing living shorelines in New Hampshire.

Institutional barriers in New Hampshire include the lack of an actor responsible for shoreline management planning, and wetlands rules that classify dual purpose projects into single purpose categories and encourage in-kind replacement of failing grey infrastructure. Institutional opportunities include a wetlands permitting system that creates norms for practice, and opportunities for pre-application and ongoing project meetings with regulators and other stakeholders. This research then applies the lens of social-ecological resilience theory to develop recommendations about which barriers and opportunities should be priorities for institutional change to promote coastal resilience in New Hampshire. Recommendations include designating an actor to coordinate comprehensive shoreline management planning, encouraging pre-application meetings between project applicants and regulators, and utilizing a facilitator to coordinate inclusive project workgroups with participation by diverse stakeholders.

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