, Newburyport, MA

April 2, 2013

Mass. not behind NH in coastal sea change work

Newburyport Daily News

---- — To the Editor:

I applaud the efforts of The Daily News to cover the issue of rising sea levels, not just in the wake of this season’s storms, but over the past few years.

On March 26 Dyke Hendrickson reported on a meeting of local residents that took place on March 25 (“Group focuses on climate change and coastal erosion, page 1”). Steve Miller, the guest speaker at that event, is a member of my staff at the Great Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. Steve was invited to talk about the Coastal Adaptation Workgroup that has been active in southeastern New Hampshire over the past three years.

The article states “Miller indicated that New Hampshire is several years ahead of coastal Massachusetts in creating study groups and developing workshops” and I would like to clarify the intention of that statement as both a fellow member of the New Hampshire Coastal Adaptation Workgroup and as a resident of Amesbury.

Massachusetts is not “behind” New Hampshire in climate impact and adaptation work; many of the elements of success in New Hampshire are actually modeled after or building upon excellent work that has happened in this state. Every resident and municipality in this area should be very familiar with the comprehensive and practical Massachusetts stormsmart website(, for example. Steve’s quote was meant to convey that the Coastal Adaptation Workgroup in New Hampshire, as a group, is three years ahead of people in the room on March 25.

The New Hampshire Coastal Adaptation Workgroup is an ad hoc group of federal and state agencies, municipal leaders, non-profits, businesses, scientists and outreach professionals that have been meeting consistently to define their role in addressing the challenges of climate change. Working with a diverse set of people has led to more successful and useful research proposals, outreach campaigns, and technical assistance than any individual or organization could have done alone.

It takes sustained commitment and a shared vision to tackle the complex issues that are associated with climate change. I encourage everyone engaged in the Newburyport area to seek out the existing expertise and resources that are available in Massachusetts and to explore multiple models for how to expand and use those resources to make decisions that protect coastal communities and ecosystems. Inevitably, this will begin with a group of passionate people who are dedicated to solutions. I know there are passionate citizens, municipal leaders, business people, and state agency people in Massachusetts who are already doing this hard work and have been for a very long time.

The New Hampshire Coastal Adaptation Workgroup is unique primarily because of the intangible chemistry between the partners around the table. Whatever your interest in climate change and coastal impacts, find that chemistry from a diverse set of people and harness it’s power.

Cory Riley

Manager, Great Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve