DEWEY BEACH, Del. – On the heels of the hottest decade ever recorded on Earth, and as higher sea surface temperatures continue to fuel one of the most active Atlantic hurricane seasons in history, today, U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), top Democrat on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, toured a completed natural barrier project that will protect communities from coastal erosion and flooding caused by rising sea levels and more severe tropical storms while providing a healthy habitat for wildlife and other bay life.
With leaders of the Center for Inland Bays, including Dr. Marianne Welch and Chris Bason, Senator Carper toured one of the Center’s most recently completed projects as part of its Living Shorelines Initiative. The project relies on nature-based shoreline restoration and storm water treatment rather than traditional stone rip-rap or bulkheads, which often result in the loss of natural shoreline habitat critical for horseshoe crabs and other wildlife. This new natural barrier will protect nearby homes, business and infrastructure from high tides and storm surge flooding, while creating access for recreational activities such as swimming or kayaking.
“Leaders like those at the Delaware Center for Inland Bays are showing us how we can – and why we must – make our coastal communities more resilient to the worsening climate crisis. This new natural barrier project will protect nearby residents and businesses from the high tides and higher storm surges we continue to see along the coast as global temperatures rise. These are the kinds of investments we need, funding and projects that fortify our communities while restoring habitat and conserving ecosystems. One of my top priorities is to invest more in making our communities, and our transportation, drinking water and wastewater infrastructure, more resilient to the worsening climate crisis.
“Natural infrastructure is a smart and effective way to protect communities from the climate crisis, but it only addresses the symptoms of the climate crisis. We also need to focus on the root causes of coastal erosion, rising seas and more severe extreme weather,” Senator Carper continued. “Harmful, heat-trapping air pollution is warming our planet, causing ice caps to melt and sea levels to rise. Warmer temperatures and higher sea temperatures are fueling more frequent and destructive tropical storms. If we do nothing to dramatically reduce carbon emissions – the villain of the climate crisis – the damage and destruction we’re seeing now will pale in comparison to the devastation that lies ahead.”
The Delaware Center for the Inland Bays was established as a nonprofit organization in 1994 under the Inland Bays Watershed Enhancement Act, a Delaware law. Its creation was the culmination of more than 20 years of active public participation and investigation into the decline of the Inland Bays and the remedies for the restoration and preservation of the watershed.
The Delaware Center for Inland Bays is designated as one of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s 28 National Estuary Programs (NEP). EPA’s NEP is a collaborative ecosystem-based network of organizations that protects and restores 28 estuaries of national significance, including Delaware’s Inland Bays, which were designated an “estuary of national significance” in 1988. Senator Carper, along with Senators Whitehouse (R-R.I.) and Cassidy (R-La.), introduced legislation to reauthorize the NEP earlier this year.