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Communicating Managed Retreat in California

Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, USA
Department of Environmental Studies, University of California, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Borja G. Reguero
Water 2021, 13(6), 781;
Received: 10 February 2021 / Revised: 11 March 2021 / Accepted: 11 March 2021 / Published: 13 March 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Adaptation to Coastal Climate Change and Sea-Level Rise)
California cities face growing threats from sea-level rise as increased frequency and severity of flooding and storms cause devastating erosion, infrastructure damage, and loss of property. Management plans are often designed to prevent or slow flooding with short-term, defensive strategies such as shoreline hardening, beach nourishment, and living shorelines. By contrast, managed retreat focuses on avoiding hazards and adapting to changing shorelines by relocating out of harm’s way. However, the term “managed retreat” can be controversial and has engendered heated debates, defensive protests, and steady resistance in some communities. Such responses have stymied inclusion of managed retreat in adaptation plans, and in some cases has resulted in complete abandonment of the policy review process. We examined the Local Coastal Program review process in seven California communities at imminent risk of sea-level rise and categorized each case as receptive or resistant to managed retreat. Three prominent themes distinguished the two groups: (1) inclusivity, timing, and consistency of communication, (2) property ownership, and (3) stakeholder reluctance to change. We examined use of terminology and communication strategies and provided recommendations to communicate “managed retreat” more effectively. View Full-Text
Keywords: adaptation; California; managed retreat; sea-level rise; climate change communication adaptation; California; managed retreat; sea-level rise; climate change communication
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MDPI and ACS Style

Bragg, W.K.; Gonzalez, S.T.; Rabearisoa, A.; Stoltz, A.D. Communicating Managed Retreat in California. Water 2021, 13, 781.

AMA Style

Bragg WK, Gonzalez ST, Rabearisoa A, Stoltz AD. Communicating Managed Retreat in California. Water. 2021; 13(6):781.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Bragg, Wendy K., Sara T. Gonzalez, Ando Rabearisoa, and Amanda D. Stoltz. 2021. "Communicating Managed Retreat in California" Water 13, no. 6: 781.

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