June 6 2019 12:00 AM

The new bill includes provisions to help low- and middle-income communities access funding for shoreline preservation projects.

Photo: American Society of Landscape Architects

The American Society of Landscape Architects has stated its enthusiastic support for the Living Shorelines Act. The legislation was introduced by Sens. Kamala Harris of California and Chris Murphy of Connecticut in the Senate and Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. of New Jersey in the House of Representatives.

A recent study by the National Academy of Sciences found that sea-level rise could be much higher than originally predicted by the International Panel on Climate Change. The worst plausible estimates place as much territory as is contained in Western Europe under water by the year 2100, a disaster which could leave 187 million people homeless. This, combined with the increased frequency of severe weather events, makes landscape architecture projects that mitigate flood damage, preserve coastlines and protect communities more important than ever before.

"Landscape architects help communities incorporate natural materials and nature-based designs to protect shorelines and preserve coastal ecosystems,” says ASLA’s Executive Vice President and CEO Nancy Somerville, Hon. ASLA. “The Living Shorelines Act would help fund those vital projects."

"ASLA commends Senator Harris, Senator Murphy and Congressman Pallone on introducing this legislation and for adding provisions to allow more equitable access to these grants for low- and middle-income communities,” continues Somerville.

This legislation would authorize up to $50 million per year to help states, towns and nonprofit organizations implement climate-resilient living shoreline projects that use nature-based solutions. These solutions may include incorporating materials such as wetland plants, aquatic vegetation, oysters and other shellfish and planting native grasses, shrubs and trees in infrastructure projects.

Senators Harris and Murphy and Congressman Pallone introduced versions of the Living Shorelines Act in the last Congress, also with ASLA’s support. The new bill goes even further than previous versions by including provisions that lower barriers to accessing funding for living shoreline projects, especially for low- and middle-income communities.