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Bristol Bay Residents Taking a Stake in Shoreline Erosion Monitoring

Investigators

Jacquelyn Overbeck Jacquelyn OverbeckDivision of Geological & Geophysical Surveys
State of Alaska
Christopher Maio Christopher MaioCNSM Geoscience Department
University of Alaska Fairbanks
Gabe Dunham Gabe DunhamMarine Advisory Program
University of Alaska Fairbanks
Susan Flensburg Susan Flensburg
Bristol Bay Native Association

Student

Synopsis

This project entails the design of an interactive workshop to share erosion monitoring strategies with participants from at least seven Bristol Bay communities. The training opportunity will heighten the scientific capacity of the Bristol Bay region by enabling residents to use low-cost time-lapse camera systems in conjunction with survey stakes to collect quantitative measurements of coastal, river, and/or lake erosion. This technique combines existing methodologies of erosion monitoring in a new and innovative way to transform anecdotal reports of erosion into rigorous measurements that will create a quantitative record of shoreline change.

Overview

The issue

Despite the need for information to fuel decision-making in a changing environment, Alaska’s extensive
shorelines are inconsistently monitored and under-instrumented for the evaluation of coastal erosion. Alaska's local residents have the necessary local knowledge, motivation, and ability to help quantify rates of erosion in remote areas.

Why is this an Alaska Sea Grant project?

Alaska Sea Grant is dedicated to building resilient communities and economies through science extension that educates, engages, and supports residents. This project embraces the Sea Grant mission to enhance the wise use of Alaska's coastal resources by employing education and outreach to enable community residents to lead local, scientifically sound erosion monitoring efforts that will improve Alaska's ability to adapt to coastal hazards and environmental change.

Results

What researchers learned

The Stakes for Stakeholders erosion monitoring project is on track for completion after the first year. The project, presented at many statewide and regional venues for stakeholder input, has received positive feedback. Residents of communities in Bristol Bay as well as outside the region have expressed a need for the collection of baseline erosion information surrounding their communities. The first year was marked by completion of a regional workshop in Dillingham, followed by site installations of monitoring equipment at four sites. Site installations are planned for the summer 2017 field season, to reach 10 total locations. Data being sent to UAF and DGGS has already resulted in the documentation of erosion at Port Heiden, which was associated with small scale storm events, or as residents suggest, a minor storm season. Data from Dillingham and Levelock show minimal changes to shoreline positions after the first storm season (August–December), which is also necessary information for local coastal management decisions. Continued monitoring and site installation follow-up visits will allow our team to maintain local relationships that are necessary for project success and allow the project team to document the drivers of coastal change through all seasons in Southwest Alaska.