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SPCMSC Coastal Change Hazards researchers awarded FY21 Risk Research and Applications Funding to assess coastal vulnerabilities in Puerto Rico

Legna Torres-Garcia and Donya Frank-Gilchrist (CNSS) are co-PIs on a project entitled “Coastal Vulnerability Assessments in Puerto Rico: focused stakeholder engagement to foster equity and inclusion.” The aim is to connect resources and tools for assessing coastal change hazards to relevant stakeholders and coastal communities in Puerto Rico.

A map of Puerto Rico with white lines delineating city boundaries
Map of Puerto Rico. White lines delineate town boundaries. The two blue shaded regions highlight the two locations of interest for stakeholder engagement efforts: San Juan and Mayagüez.

Underrepresented communities are disproportionately impacted by coastal hazards. This project will connect existing Coastal and Marine Hazards and Resources Program projects investigating coastal hazards to communities in Puerto Rico through a focused stakeholder engagement process and identify coastal hazard research needs in these communities. The objectives are to: identify and communicate existing USGS data, knowledge, and tools available to assess coastal hazards; establish connections with relevant stakeholders to understand their needs; host two stakeholder engagement workshops in San Juan and Mayagüez to build relationships and determine where information gaps exist; and identify research needs wherein future USGS projects can better support coastal decision-making in Puerto Rico. Anticipated stakeholders include federal partners, coastal communities, coastal managers, local government officials planning mitigation measures and managing disaster relief, and researchers and scientists conducting coastal research in Puerto Rico. Products and outcomes of the proposed work include 1) bilingual geonarrative on shoreline change in Puerto Rico to engage stakeholders and to provide critical information in a user-friendly format; 2) training protocols on various USGS tools that aid in coastal management decisions; and 3) collaborations with academic researchers at the University of Puerto Rico, scientists at the USGS Coastal and Marine Science Centers, and Caribbean-Florida Water Science Center in Puerto Rico, as well as other federal agencies to support planning and coordination of future projects there.

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