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State Agencies and ANTHC Are Partnering to Address Coastal Erosion Threats to Alaska Communities

Dec 10, 2020 | Alaska Native, Environmental, Government, News

Aerial view of Kwigillingok, Alaska in 2017. It’s one of the forty-four targeted Alaska communities facing flood and erosion hazards.

AK DNR

State agencies are joining with the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium to plan a comprehensive response to the erosion and flooding that threatens rural Alaska Native communities.

“Building Capacity and Conducting Coastal Risk Assessments in Remote Alaska Native Communities” is a partnership among the Division of Community and Regional Affairs (DCRA), the Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys (DGGS), and the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium’s Center for Environmentally Threatened Communities (ANTHC CETC).

The project recently received $1.36 million grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s National Coastal Resilience Fund, which will support the partners in conducting urgently needed coastal risk assessments for flooding and erosion in 44 remote Alaska Native communities, and assisting with the development of informed local resilience strategies, mitigation solutions, and design of future restoration projects.

A recent Statewide Threat Assessment prepared for the Denali Commission found 144 remote Alaska Native communities are experiencing some degree of infrastructure damage from the environmental threats of erosion, flooding, and permafrost thaw. That report is available at: https://www.denali.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Statewide-Threat-Assessment-Final-Report-November-2019-1-2.pdf. Completing site-specific data collection, risk assessments, and planning is critical to informing local decisions about reducing risk from erosion and flooding.

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Cooperation among all partners will ensure the work will be innovative, comprehensive, efficient, culturally sensitive, and forward-looking. The project work will cover coastal and Western Alaska Native communities which the Statewide Threat Assessment showed face the greatest risk and are most likely to benefit. The work will include:

  • Collecting baseline data to support flood modeling in twenty communities
  • Leveraging a coastal erosion project to map historical erosion rates and project future shorelines on infrastructure in forty-four communities
  • Developing coastal storm inundation records, risk assessment maps, reports, and an online tool to inform community plans and mitigation solutions for thirty-three communities
  • Conducting storm surge and sea level change modeling at two communities
  • Conducting additional storm surge modeling, developing community resilience strategies, identifying near-term project development, and acquiring funding for imminent actions in fourteen communities
  • Developing and planning for long-term flood and erosion mitigation projects that leverage the project flood and erosion studies, resulting in mitigation strategies and a pipeline of fundable projects

 

For more information and project updates visit the Alaska Coastal Resilience Partnership website.

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