Board Meeting Minutes, 18 April 2014

Coastal Ecosystems Institute of Northern California

Board Meeting: 18 April 2014

Location: Humboldt Area Foundation, Nilsen Room

1:00 – 3:00 PM

Board Members Present: Darren Mierau, Becky Price-Hall, Jill Demers, Sharon Kramer, Frank Shaughnessy

Absent: Susan Schlosser

Quorum present: Yes

Also present: Aldaron Laird, Dan Berman, Jeff Anderson Attending by phone: Joel Gerwein



1:00        Humboldt Bay Sea Level Rise (SLR) Vulnerability and Risk Assessment and Adaptation Planning Project meeting

Attendees: Jeff Anderson, Aldaron Laird, Dan Berman, Joel Gerwin (phone), Darren Mierau, Frank Shaughnessy, Becky Price-Hall, Sharon Kramer, Jill Demers

  1. Status update from Jeff, Aldaron, and Dan (20 minutes)
  2. Finalization of the inundation maps (20 minutes)
  3. Future products (40 minutes)
    1. Expected products and timelines
    2. Finalization of products

i.      CEINC’s role in reviewing project products

ii.      Adaptation Planning Working Group review?

iii.      SCC review?

  1. Acknowledgment of CEINC, other partners


CEINC Board Meeting Agenda

2:30        Approval of March 2013 (go to Google Drive, Shared with me, Board Documents, Minutes)

2:35        Board Recruitment

  1. Board nominees – select final three from list
  2. Approval of 1-pager and letter

2:45        Finance Report

2:50        Dept. of Conservation (DOC) Watershed Coordinator Grant Update & Workplan

  1. Update CEINC contract with City of Trinidad
  2. Update CEINC contract with Jill

2:55        Announcements, Updates, and Activities since last Board Meeting

2:55        May Board meeting

  1. Date: current date 5/16/14, 3-5pm

2:55        Set Action Items


Status update from Jeff, Aldaron, Dan

The inundation maps are done and uploaded to the Harbor District (HD) website, and a preliminary data release was done.  The PDF maps have a disclaimer on data and KMZ and shape files are provided and explained.  As things progress these files will have changed dates and old versions will be deleted.  Joel found that the LiDAR was from Ocean Protection Council and not the Coastal Conservancy, Jeff will update with Joel’s comments and finalize the report.  Projections were provided for the future, referenced to year 2000.  Projected elevations were amended with vertical land motion.  As much as they didn’t want to tie to future dates they had to – using dates based on National Research Council curves for when you would expect 0.5 m SLR, for example.  Jeff will explain in the report that the SLR is referenced to 2000 – and the tidal datums are tied to mean SLR from 1992, so he had to make the steps up from 1992 to 2014 before he could tie to elevations.  Tying to ground based elevations is the problem – projections were made from mean sea level.  It is all relative.

Aldaron described that the SCC guidance document noted a timeline was needed (2050, 2100) – people want dates but there is a lot of error associated with projections.  Municipalities want it for planning purposes.  Jeff plans to explain this so it’s used correctly (correct SLR projections).  Ours are complicated due to ground motion.

Dan noted that the maps with storm surge are important, for practical reasons the progression of mean sea level is not as important as knowing a what could happen with a king tide and big storm, if levees fail.  For Dan it’s not the rise in mean sea level per se, it’s the extreme events.

Joel noted the PDF explained that all of the places behind dikes are currently vulnerable, just due to storms and king tides.  Vulnerability will increase with SLR and increased storm severity.  Becky noted extreme events could create an irreparable and permanent conversion, a threshold that would be good to understand.  Aldaron noted the New Year’s storm in 2005 resulted in a declaration of emergency in Humboldt Bay — lots of breaches etc.

Jeff noted that infrastructure such as levees went in during the early 1900s, and if you look at the numbers SLR has been going up about 5 mm per year, so events that were extreme before are now more common.  We are living with a 0.5 m SLR since the infrastructure was built.  The legacy of the infrastructure is the dilemma.

Jeff thinks the 100 year event water level already overtops levees.  That might be something to think about doing is showing that information, the data are there and the urgency gets shown up front.  We must disseminate the information in a useful way.  The vulnerability ranking Aldaron did showed a 2 ft above Mean Monthly Max indicating risk, so it does basically cover Jeff’s point.  It is not tied to SLR it is tied to the current situation with the 100 year event approach.  Emphasize the point that we are currently in a crisis situation, we should not wait we have had these kinds of events in the past.  SLR is a factor that compounds the issue rather than being the cause.  Effect of SLR is that a 10 year or more frequent event is catastrophic.

The contract process – the last meeting is scheduled on January 7, 2015 and the contract ends January 25, 2015.  Dan noted there will be another Humboldt Bay Symposium in spring 2015 and will feature this work.  A public meeting has already occurred, there will be another near the wrap-up.  Aldaron is keeping track via powerpoint presentations that includes agendas and materials presented; these can be provided to CEINC and SCC, as well as the Harbor District website.  Adaptation Planning Work Group (APWG) meetings have been information delivery mostly, Dan feels that this effort is to help local governments, etc. plan for what we do.  Meetings have been focused on maps, numbers, modeling information but at some point engaging people in the discussion of what to do is still missing.

Joel thinks a venue for this discussion for adaptation planning is the risk assessment.  King Salmon is a county resource, ag lands are another.  Need to start talking about adaptation approaches with specific groups.  At the February meeting APWG started discussing adaptation planning.  There are 5 more meetings going forward will expand the risk analysis to identify what are the regional assets that are shared and vulnerable.  That will lead into the strategy discussion once it is understood what is at risk.  Adaptation strategy types include education, protection, relocation, regulation; the next meeting is on ag land uses.  Each meeting going forward will address another critical regional aspect, e.g., transportation corridors, urban areas (King Salmon).  The Local Coastal Program (LCP) update consultant for Eureka just released an update.  The regional discussion of risks and integration will be done so that the LCP updates can include this work and use the results.  The June 2014 meeting brings in the county, Eureka and Arcata to have this discussion (the 3 LCP authorities).  Road and highway systems are at risk, water, gas lines, etc. Each meeting moving forward has a theme, which will each be a chapter in the adaptation plan.  Ultimately each LCP authority will have to use this information.  White papers will be released to each working group for discussion and modification, which will ultimately go into the plan and go on the Harbor District’s website.  Aldaron wants to post the white papers, especially the ag one, separately.  That meeting is Tuesday April 29th, and will include NRCS, Eric Nelson, and others.

Immediate adaptation strategy is education, which are based on the inundation maps.  Aldaron mentioned long-term strategies, need to have that as a back stop to look at major changes moving forward.  The next public meeting is November 17, 2014.  The October meeting will include a discussion of continuing the APWG, a good forum for maintaining a common education — how to fund the APWG coordination, etc. will be the question, could be driven by different jurisdictions taking the lead.  Getting stakeholders together on a regular basis is something Humboldt County is really a leader on for the state.

Review of products and deliverables: Administrative draft of Aldaron’s report will be provided to Joel and Jeff.  Who should review Jeff’s technical work?  Joel indicated it would be good for CEI to review as well, and the APWG.  Time will be limited so probably won’t have a lot of comments.  Regarding Jeff’s work (he had 7 tasks), inundation mapping was the number one priority.  Groundwater, salt water intrusion, erosion, land-use conversion, all of those are part of vulnerability to SLR –Knowles at the USGS didn’t do groundwater, so they called their analysis “inundation due to SLR”.  Pacific Watershed Associates did the digitization, and groundwater analysis, which will be appendices with a more general report.  But it’s still not a vulnerability assessment so Jeff is going to address a couple things on habitat, e.g., MLLW will also be addressed and effects on mudflat habitat, for example.  Tidal wetlands will be addressed, but in a general sense since accretion won’t be addressed only SLR.  So it’s not really a vulnerability assessment since not all of the vulnerabilities to the bay will be addressed.  Rising groundwater, salt water intrusion not addressed – the report needs to provide a description of what is addressed and what is not addressed.  Shoreline erosion – everything has been armored because of erosion, levees failing because of erosion, all have been addressed but needs to be linked back to SLR.  Addressing these other vulnerabilities – can we bring them into the report so the assessment isn’t just inundation.

Peer review of Jeff’s model wasn’t budgeted for, but would be a good thing to do to increase its credibility.  Peer review could come as part of submittal of a manuscript to a peer reviewed journal especially for the foundational science about the calculations.  Jeff is writing a technical report that would be attached to the bigger report written for lay people.  Jeff indicated he could have a paper he could submit for publication.  Joel noted there will be some peer review from the users and communities using the information.  Jeff has talked to Jeremy Lowe from ESA-PWA about his approach.  We could fund someone to review it or get the work submitted to a peer reviewed journal.  Another option is to have local agency expert review, from NOAA or USFWS?  Maps are not produced by FEMA, so are not legal, but there are technical foundations that need to be reviewed.

ACTION ITEM: Jeff’s technical approach will be reviewed by local agency scientists (USFWS, NOAA). 

Darren asked about reports, Aldaron’s report will be separate from Jeff’s report.  Aldaron’s report will be reviewed by Jeff, Joel, CEI, then the APWG.  Jeff’s report will include a technical report for inundation maps and groundwater.  Jeff will call it a vulnerability assessment focused on inundation and groundwater components, future phases could address these vulnerabilities through LCPs (e.g., shoreline erosion, etc.).  Dan felt the maps will be what we need the most.  Jeff’s report will provide a layman’s explanation of 4 appendices: Digital elevation model, groundwater, inundation mapping and boundary assumptions, tidal history.  Jeff will get technical reports done, CEI can do review it or send out for review.  CEI and Jeff will need to have a clear, user friendly report.  Jeff’s PPT materials can be summarized into a report that can be used as a teaching tool.  Aldaron felt that the adaptation plan has to cover the steps, how you identify vulnerable areas, which will reference technical appendices.  That would save Jeff from writing a general document on how to interpret the maps.  Jeff could write up his technical appendix as if he was submitting for publication which would save time so Jeff could write the front endpiece report that would be more user-friendly.  Joel was amenable to this approach.

Jeff suggested that CEI consider posters with our logo of the inundation maps.  Jeff and Aldaron indicated CEI would be acknowledged in their reports.

Board meeting

March minutes were not uploaded, ACTION ITEM: Sharon needs to upload the March minutes.

DOC offered a 6 month extension of a half time watershed coordinator position for CEI, 510 hours.  Grant has a very few deliverables, HBI meetings where drought is discussed, some water conservation and supply workshops for the public (or support for those).  Quarterly reports (2): since they are quarterly there is a lag to getting paid.  Board will expect a contract between CEI and the City of Trinidad.  Then CEI will contract with Jill for the watershed coordinator position.  ACTION ITEM: Becky will get the contract done for July through December for the new amended grant agreement. DOC is amending the first grant as well.  Since the DOC grant includes drought issues, it will be important to start working now before summer.  It might be feasible to back bill.  ACTION ITEM: Jill and Becky to identify things Jill should start on right now that would be important to get rolling sooner than later.

Finances: all is well in that department.  Process issue: Becky and Jill can keep the receipt book, add photocopy of checks and sign the receipt book.

Meeting adjourned 3 PM.

Next board meeting: 5/16/2014 1-3 PM, H. T. Harvey & Associates

Minutes taken and submitted by Sharon Kramer, Secretary.