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Managed Retreat as a Policy Tool to Combat Sea Level Rise, Flood Risk, and Other Coastal Dangers

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A comprehensive review of the managed retreat literature reveals mixed feelings towards the legality, practicality and cost of the policy action as a way to react to rising sea level

A comprehensive review of the managed retreat literature reveals mixed feelings towards the legality, practicality and cost of the policy action as a way to react to rising sea level and coastal erosion. Existing research shows increasing costs of severe storm damage borne to insurance companies and private citizens, furthering the need for long-term policy actions that mitigate the negative effects of major storms. Some main policy actions are restricting development, strategically abandoning infrastructure, funding buyout programs, utilizing rolling easements, and implementing a variety of protective structures. These policy actions face various problems regarding their feasibility and practicality as policy tools, including wavering public support and total costs associated with the actions. Managed retreat specifically faces public scrutiny, as many coastal property owners are reluctant to retreat from the shore. This paper will use examples of managed retreat in other countries (Netherlands, Belgium, and France) to develop plans for specific municipalities, using their models, costs and successes to generate in-depth policy plans and proposals. When observing Clatsop County, Oregon and assessing its policy options, its established that the best policy option is a combination of beach nourishment and Controlled Reduced Tides. This paper analyzes several features of the county, such as the importance of its coastal economic activity and its geographical makeup, to decide what policy actions would be best to mitigate its risk from sea level rise and flood damages. The process used to determine the best course of action for Clatsop County can be replicated in other municipalities, although the resulting policies will obviously be unique to the area.

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  • 2017-05