Discussing Coastal Resiliency: An Interview with Five Coastal Stewards

Amanda Post

Article Summary: Dune Doctors interviewed five Coastal Stewards and asked them to share one thing they wish everyone would know about coastal resiliency.

Withstanding powerful forces, coastal residents have made a home along the Gulf Coast! For over twenty-two years, Dune Doctors has served these communities by preserving and strengthening the native landscapes that host diverse wildlife and vegetation while protecting water-front properties. As coastal restoration is only achievable through integrated efforts, Dune Doctors has partnered with like-minded professionals and volunteers who share our mission of coastal stewardship. To that end, our team interviewed five Coastal Stewards we have the ongoing privilege of working with! We asked them each four questions and included one answer from each person in this article. Throughout 2023, we will make the individual interviews available with each publication of our “ON CALL” Newsletter.

This article includes answers from these five coastal stewards we regularly partner with:

1. Kelly Reetz who has co-hosted numerous community-based dune restoration events with our team.
2. Samantha Bolduc and Barb Van Stavern, each facilitating sea turtle conservation programs that ensure our restoration efforts meet Fish and Wildlife regulatory compliance.
3. Captain Joseph Morrow, a senior coastal engineer, we engage when designing customized solutions for high-risk and erosion-prone dune ecosystems. best-possible solution for a unique situation – we reach out and have other experts consult and join the team. for unique projects we reach out to engineering experts to join the team.
4. Lori Raisch who promotes coastal resiliency throughout Perdido Key with the community’s Chamber of Commerce.

What is something you wish everyone would know about coastal resiliency?

Kelly Reetz Gulf State Park Natural Resource Planner

Kelly Reetz

NATURAL RESOURCE PLANNER, GULF STATE PARK, AL

“Coastal resiliency is so important for the Gulf State Park. Through partners like Dune Doctors, we are able to help locals to have a personal investment and interest in protecting and helping the natural dunes along our coast. By involving locals in the work (dune restoration), their sweat and earned blisters (while planting sea oats) help them to feel ownership of the coastal environment and Gulf State Park. This feeling of “ownership” gives them the desire to continue to serve as coastal stewards.”

Captain Joseph Morrow stands in front of a suspended surf board

Captain Joseph Morrow

SENIOR COASTAL ENGINEER WITH MRD ASSOCIATES, Inc.

Coastal Resiliency may be the latest buzzword to describe efforts to bolster coastal infrastructure against future flooding and storms. However, it is absolutely necessary as we enter a new chapter in accelerating sea level rise [1]. NASA recently published a study showing that starting in the mid-2030s, the alignment of rising sea levels with a lunar cycle will cause coastal cities all around the U.S. to begin a decade of dramatic increases in nuisance flooding [2].

[1] https://sealevel.nasa.gov/news/244/nasa-study-rising-sea-level-could-exceed-estimates-for-us-coasts/

[2] https://www.nasa.gov/feature/jpl/study-projects-a-surge-in-coastal-flooding-starting-in-2030s

Samantha Bolduc poses behind a sea turtle

Samantha Bolduc

ENVIRONMENTAL PROGRAM MANAGER FOR ESCAMBIA COUNTY

Coastal resiliency is about so much more than ensuring our beaches have sand on them. It is making sure they still function as natural systems and can support native wildlife. It is ensuring they are strong enough to withstand storms and to protect our homes and businesses in an ever-changing climate. And, it ensures that we protect the economic driver of our region; and the reason why so many of us choose to live and retire in Northwest Florida.

Barb Van Stavern stands with her hand on her hips

Barb Van Stavern

AREA COORDINATOR FOR SOUTH WALTON COUNTY TURTLE WATCH GROUP

Restoration and natural regeneration both take time, and some habitats and species can still be negatively impacted during this restorative period. Something we wish everyone knew about coastal resiliency is to not take it for granted. Be good environmental stewards, carry out what you carry in, recycle, obtain proper permits and follow local ordinances and permitting requirements that are in place to protect our native habitats and wildlife. This way, everyone can continue to enjoy them for future generations, and our protected species can build healthy populations.

Lori Raisch receives a kiss from a dolphin

Lori Raisch

ENGAGEMENT MANAGER FOR THE PERDIDO KEY CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

I hope everyone can recognize the importance of being good coastal stewards even with development! By incorporating native plants and a well-thought-out design of natural storm barriers, not only do we protect our buildings and homes, but we keep the natural beauty, that attracts visitors and residents, intact for generations to come.

These five Coastal Stewards are part of an extensive network of Gulf-loving people who are working together to preserve and protect our precious coastline. As we work year-round to achieve the highest level of sustainable coastal resiliency, our efforts could not progress without the foundational backing and support of those who also regard the natural coastal environment as a valuable asset that must be invested in, respected, and cared for. Dune Doctors stands ready to continue serving commercial, private, and government properties. For more information about our services you reach us at 866-386-3737 or by clicking here to submit a help request through out “contact-us” form.

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