NFWF: Coastal Resilience Assessments

About This Project


The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) is committed to supporting programs and projects that improve resilience by reducing communities’ vulnerability to coastal storms, sea-level rise, and flooding events by strengthening natural ecosystems and the fish and wildlife habitat they provide.


The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has provided funding for NFWF to assess regional resilience for U.S. coastlines as well as eight targeted watersheds. In partnership with NOAA and in collaboration with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), NFWF commissioned the National Environmental Modeling and Analysis Center (NEMAC) at University of North Carolina at Asheville and NatureServe, a non-profit conservation science organization, to conduct the resilience analyses. This assessment builds on the evaluation concepts developed by NFWF in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. 


1.    Create contiguous and standardized datasets for U.S. coastlines and eight targeted watersheds* to support coastal resilience assessment and planning.

2.    Analyze the impacts of potential coastal and inland storm events.

3.    Identify areas for restoration, installation of natural and nature-based features, and other projects that achieve maximum benefit for human community resilience, fish and wildlife populations, and their habitats.

4.    Identify and recommend specific strategies, conservation actions, and monitoring in targeted watersheds.

Regional and Watershed Assessments include:
  • Community Exposure Index map that provides fine-scale data on where communities, people, and infrastructure are at the highest risk of flooding
  • Critical Fish and Wildlife Populations and Habitats map
  • Resiliency Hubs map that identifies large swaths of connected habitat that protects coastal communities from the impacts of storms as well as support fish and wildlife
  • Project Portfolio for each targeted watershed that identifies resilience projects, including recommendations for the highest priority and most impactful projects
These analyses prioritize sites for large-scale natural and nature-based resilience project implementation that enhance or build on the existing Resiliency Hubs and will result in the maximum benefit for both human communities and fish and wildlife habitats.
  • Cape Fear (NC)
  • Savannah River (GA/SC)
  • Narragansett Bay and Coastal RI (RI/MA)
  • Charleston Harbor (SC)
  • Merrymeeting Bay (ME)
  • Delaware Bay (DE/NJ/PA)
  • St. Johns River (FL)
  • San Francisco Bay (CA)


1. Engage stakeholders in the watershed to provide project input to the assessment, data, and identification of resilience projects.
2. Develop a GIS decision support system aggregating regional and local data on species, habitats, and natural features.
3. Conduct GIS assessments of current wildlife condition and potential climate vulnerability.
4. Develop a portfolio of resilience projects analyzed for their benefit to human assets and natural resources.
5. Provide assessment results in a report and watershed decision support system to inform resilience planning and project development.
1. Conduct an introductory webinar for interested stakeholders.
2. Host watershed workshops with stakeholders, providing two opportunities to participate.
3. Conduct habitat assessment for the watershed using regional and local data.
4. Compile information on candidate resilience projects, conduct site visits, and characterize them per established criteria. 
5. Present draft findings to stakeholders for feedback.
6. Present final products by webinar to stakeholders.








The Assessment will produce the following products:

  • A document summarizing the analyses and providing the community and others instructions on its use and applications to future planning.

  • A Community Exposure Index map providing fine-scale data on where communities, people, and infrastructure are at the highest risk of flooding

  • A map of critical fish and wildlife habitat and species locations, their current condition, and potential impacts from flooding and other threats

  • A map of resiliency hubs - large habitat blocks that protect communities from flooding and storm events that also provide habitat for fish and wildlife

  • A portfolio of resilience projects designed to benefit community resilience and fish and wildlife and the habitats on which they depend


Should You Attend the Workshop?

We hope you will participate in the assessment, first at an informational webinar, then in person at one of the two stakeholder meetings.

We need your help! We are seeking:

  • Input on the key local/regional fish and wildlife species and data on their distribution. This includes federal or state endangered, threatened or vulnerable species, species of greatest conservation need, commercially or recreationally important species, and iconic species.

  • Storm threats data (e.g. local modeling of sea-level rise, storm surge, geomorphology, soils data, etc.)

  • Information on restoration, conservation, natural or nature-based features, and other projects that potentially provide community resilience and are beneficial to fish and wildlife.  Projects can be in any stage of development from conceptual to implementation.

The workshop will be valuable to you if:
  • You would like to know about modeling efforts and provide input on the next phase of the project to assess the exposure of human assets and natural resources to flooding from coastal storms. 

  • You would like your resilience project(s) to be included in the project database and potentially the priority portfolio

Webinar and In-Person Workshops

To get involved, you will need to take 2 simple steps.  First, register for the 2 hour webinar.  Then register for one of the two stakeholder workshops.

  1. We strongly encourage you to attend the introductory webinar on May 9 from 2-4PM.  This webinar will provide an overview of the assessment and how you can engage in the project.  Register for the webinar here. Once you have registered, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.   

  2. Two identical workshops are planned for May 18 and 19 in different locations within the watershed. Please select a workshop and register using this survey.  Then see the information below for more details on the location of the venues and directions to them.

Workshop Dates and Locations:
  •  University of Rhode Island: May 18, from 1:00 to 4:30 pm at the Student Memorial Union, 50 Lower College Road, Kingston, RI 

  • Fall River, MA:  May 19, from 9:30 am to 1:30 pm at the Fall River State Heritage Park Visitor’s Center, Davol Street, Fall River, MA

This is an exciting initiative that will provide valuable, relevant, and unique information to stakeholders in each watershed and develop a portfolio of resilience projects for future implementation. We hope that you will join us! 

If you have any questions, please contact me at


Lesley and the rest of the resilience assessment team


Directions to URI campus (May 18th, 1-4:30PM):

Note that there are directions to the Memorial Union parking lot – THIS IS FOR 45 MINUTES ONLY. Plan to park in the Brian Lane lot next to the visitors center to get a parking pass. The Student Memorial Union is on the pdf in the lower center, a short walk from the visitor center. Campus map.

Directions to Fall River State Heritage Park Visitors Center, Davol Street, Fall River (May 19th, 9:30 AM – 1:30 PM). View directions to Fall River State Heritage Park.