The National Park Service has awarded a $483,404 grant to the Western Carolina University Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines to map the storm vulnerability at 12 coastal parks, from Alaska to Florida.

The WCU shorelines program is internationally recognized as an advocate for science-based coastal management policies that consider and balance economic and environmental interests. This grant is the latest in an ongoing partnership with the National Park Service, with a similar grant of $436,000 awarded in 2014.

Gulf Islands National Seashore of Florida and Mississippi is one of a dozen coastal parks to be studied for vulnerability by WCU’s Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines, thanks to a National Park Service grant.

Gulf Islands National Seashore of Florida and Mississippi is one of a dozen coastal parks to be studied for vulnerability by WCU’s Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines, thanks to a National Park Service grant.

“This funding will allow us to take the coastal vulnerability assessment tool that we developed last year and apply it to determining risk factors to park facilities from coastal storms, erosion and rising sea level,” said Robert Young, program director. “That will assist park managers in the decision-making process for resource management and preservation of infrastructure at coastal parks, all of which ultimately effects the economic, environmental and recreational outcomes that impact all of us.”

WCU faculty and students have worked collaboratively with the National Park Service for more than 10 years. Earlier this year, the Department of the Interior released a report by two of the shoreline program’s scientists that predicts the risk posed to national parks by rising sea levels.

Other shoreline program activities include two-year sustainable coastal management strategies projects for North Carolina and Florida, a series of coastal vulnerability workshops this year in the Caribbean and Latin America, and ongoing research into ecosystems and rising sea levels.

For more information about WCU’s Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines, visit psds.wcu.edu or contact Young at 828-227-3822.