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Investing in Natural and Nature-Based Infrastructure: Building Better Along Our Coasts

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The Nature Conservancy, MD/DC Chapter, 425 Barlow Place, Suite 100A, Bethesda, MD 20814, USA
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Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20740, USA
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Department of Biology and Institute for Coastal Science & Policy, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC 27858, USA
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Natural Capital Project, Stanford University, C/O School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, University of Washington, Box 352100, Seattle, WA 98195, USA
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United States Fish and Wildlife Service, 300 Westgate Center Drive, Hadley, MA 01035, USA
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Restore America’s Estuaries, 2300 Clarendon Blvd, #603, Arlington, VA 22201, USA
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The Nature Conservancy, 721 Government St., Suite 200, Baton Rouge, LA 70802, USA
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United States Army Corps of Engineers Regional Planning & Environmental Center, Southwestern Division, 2000 Fort Point Road, Galveston, TX 77550, USA
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Chesapeake Bay Foundation, 6 Herndon Ave., Annapolis, MD 21403, USA
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The Water Institute of the Gulf, One American Place, 301 N. Main Street, Suite 2000, Baton Rouge, LA 70825, USA
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The Nature Conservancy, URI Bay Campus, Narragansett, RI 02882, USA
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Department of Marine and Environmental Sciences, Northeastern University, Marine Science Center, Nahant, MA 01908, USA
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Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2018, 10(2), 523; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10020523
Received: 2 January 2018 / Revised: 9 February 2018 / Accepted: 12 February 2018 / Published: 15 February 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social-Ecological Restoration for Coastal Sustainability)
Much of the United States’ critical infrastructure is either aging or requires significant repair, leaving U.S. communities and the economy vulnerable. Outdated and dilapidated infrastructure places coastal communities, in particular, at risk from the increasingly frequent and intense coastal storm events and rising sea levels. Therefore, investments in coastal infrastructure are urgently needed to ensure community safety and prosperity; however, these investments should not jeopardize the ecosystems and natural resources that underlie economic wealth and human well-being. Over the past 50 years, efforts have been made to integrate built infrastructure with natural landscape features, often termed “green” infrastructure, in order to sustain and restore valuable ecosystem functions and services. For example, significant advances have been made in implementing green infrastructure approaches for stormwater management, wastewater treatment, and drinking water conservation and delivery. However, the implementation of natural and nature-based infrastructure (NNBI) aimed at flood prevention and coastal erosion protection is lagging. There is an opportunity now, as the U.S. government reacts to the recent, unprecedented flooding and hurricane damage and considers greater infrastructure investments, to incorporate NNBI into coastal infrastructure projects. Doing so will increase resilience and provide critical services to local communities in a cost-effective manner and thereby help to sustain a growing economy. View Full-Text
Keywords: coastal resilience; restoration; sustainability; infrastructure; ecosystem services coastal resilience; restoration; sustainability; infrastructure; ecosystem services
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Sutton-Grier, A.E.; Gittman, R.K.; Arkema, K.K.; Bennett, R.O.; Benoit, J.; Blitch, S.; Burks-Copes, K.A.; Colden, A.; Dausman, A.; DeAngelis, B.M.; Hughes, A.R.; Scyphers, S.B.; Grabowski, J.H. Investing in Natural and Nature-Based Infrastructure: Building Better Along Our Coasts. Sustainability 2018, 10, 523.

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