On July 18th we attended a webinar on Managed Retreat put on by UHI (United Harbors Institute) that discussed the perceived importance of managed retreat in Massachusetts municipalities through surveys.
Managed Retreat is a relocation from coastline towns all over the U.S. due to the rising sea levels from climate change. Overall, it is the movement of infrastructure somewhere inland that cannot be affected by rising sea levels. 13 out of 15 municipalities surveyed by UHI said they had considered a managed retreat, but there were not many who had planned to do so in the future.
"Managed retreat" carries a negative connotation, since it does use the word "retreat", which can lead communities to think they are giving up or running away from the problem instead of facing it head-on. Other terms that were discussed involved "relocating" or "coastal relocation". "Refuge" and "community: were also talked about since those words can lead communities to receive any managed retreat plans better. It was discussed how the focus should be on bringing communities together to find solutions, and that communication between regions/municpalities is important when organizing movement inland. However, many municipalities preferred to elevate any existing homes or infrastructure to accommodate the rising sea levels instead of relocating.
Local Massachusetts governments are considering the idea of managed retreat in the long term, but it was brought up that many tourist towns have problems educating the residents since there is high turnover from season to season. Legal restraints against managed retreat also heavily influence any managed retreat plans. There is no evidence that the federal government has made any long term managed retreat plans. Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) has a great model that can be used to simulate managed retreat.