FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Nov. 22, 2011
Contact: Ken or Kate Gooderham, ASBPA executive directors -- (239) 489-2616
Harry Simmons, ASBPA president -- (910) 200-7867
Does your community have a coastal agenda?
Create a vision, create a plan, create a way to keep your coast thriving.
Does your community have a coastal agenda? If not, it should... and here's why: An agenda keeps the needs and benefits of your coast in the minds of citizens and officials, helping to combat coastal complacency that can allow people to take your shoreline for granted.
What makes up a coastal agenda? Here are a couple of components, but by no means a complete list:
A shared vision: Your community has to achieve some degree of consensus about what the coastline means to you and your neighbors and visitors, or the best laid plans will just lay there...always being talked about, never being implemented. Each vision will be as unique as the community and coast that inspires it, but it must be something the community agrees on, at least about the broad strokes. Therefore it is important to identify goals so the vision gains substance and support from the community. These goals can be broad based and general however, they should encompass the vision and provide the frame work for moving forward.
An effective plan: Once you have a vision, you put together a plan to achieve it. The plan should identify objectives that build on the goals identified above and provide a framework for implementing the plan. In a dynamic coastal environment, even maintaining the status quo takes work -- including having someone whose responsibility it is to implement and update that plan. This also creates the need for a planning window, both to look far enough ahead to be effective and to help the community grasp that caring for the coast is an ongoing process that must work years -- even decades -- ahead of its targets in order to be effective.
A way to pay for those plans: In the best of times, funding to care for the coast is a tenuous and tenacious effort. When the economy is down and infrastructure funding of all types is tight, money for beaches and shorelines is even more scarce and subject to increased competition for dwindling dollars. That's why it's important to understand the coast's role in your local and regional economy, to better make the case that investing in coastal infrastructure is a critical investment in your future and pays back dividends at a great rate of return.
Access that fits your community: The best way to build a coastal constituency is to make sure your community can get to its coast. In some communities, that can mean community parks open to all; in others, access might be limited to locals and paying guests. If yours is a working coastline, commercial access will be crucial; if you're in a gentrifying, growing community, access may mean figuring out how to keep long-time beachfront residents from being priced out of their hometown.
Bringing all users and stakeholders to the table: The process of putting together a public agenda -- visioning, planning funding, etc. -- also is a good way to ensure all the coastal users are included in the process -- since giving the coast a profile gives people a reason to be certain their interests are included. A coastal agenda that encompasses all the users will be stronger for the inclusiveness, and a broader user group usually translates into a stronger base of support. Broadening the user group to include as many stakeholders as possible empowers user groups to feel they are part of the solution, and helps gain buy-in that makes it "their" plan.
A sustainable shoreline strategy: Caring for the coast means you're in it for the long haul -- and your planning and funding ideas need to reflect that. Similarly, your vision needs to be one that can be maintained well into the future if it is to be achieved; grandiose plans rarely pan out, and even simple goals can falter if there isn't the support over time to keep them alive. Finally, a coastal community can never turn its back on the shoreline that defines it; to do so is to waste an invaluable intangible that has shaped citizens ( and even civilizations) as long as people have settled along the shore.
If your community already has a coastal agenda, good -- but it may be time to take another look at how it's doing. If your community lacks a shoreline strategy, the time to create one it now. ASBPA stands ready to help and has been working to enhance and defend our nation's coastlines since 1926. There is no time like the present to start keeping your beaches and estuaries healthy, to ensure that caring for the coast is always on the agenda and never just an afterthought.
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ABOUT ASBPA: Founded in 1926, the ASBPA promotes the integration of science, policies and actions that maintain, protect and enhance the coasts of America. For more information on ASBPA, go to www.asbpa.org, facebook or www.twitter.com/asbpa.