This page provides an overview of the actions Alaska is taking to support adaptation efforts at the local level.
The Division of Community and Regional Affairs (DCRA) oversees many of the state’s community resilience assistance programs, including the Alaska Climate Change Impact Mitigation Program, the Alaska Community Coastal Protection Project, and the Alaska Risk Mapping, Assessment, and Planning (Risk MAP) Program.
Technical and Planning Assistance
Through the Alaska Climate Change Impact Mitigation Program, DCRA has provided assistance to coastal communities threatened by erosion, flooding, storm surge, and permafrost thaw — threats that are worsening as temperatures increase and protective sea ice decreases. The program involves two steps: (1) a hazard impact assessment, during which the state helps the community identify hazards and potential mitigation measures; and (2) a community planning process, during which the community receives funding and assistance to carry out one or more recommendations resulting from the impact assessment. A number of assessment and planning efforts have been completed through the program, including a relocation site feasibility study for the village of Shishmaref; an engineering analysis and design study for the village of Kipnuk on ways to mitigate flooding, erosion, and other damage; and an emergency shelter conceptual design for the village of Shaktoolik, among other projects.
The Alaska Community Coastal Protection Project focuses on increasing community resilience to coastal hazards while protecting the natural coastal environment in three imminently threatened villages in Western Alaska (Kivalina, Shaktoolik, and Shishmaref). For each village, DCRA established an interagency planning work group and provided funding to the communities for capacity-building and hiring of a coordinator. Each village received assistance from a contractor hired through the project grant to develop a Comprehensive Strategic Management Plan. The Plans provide a framework for how the communities can achieve adaptation goals like relocation, shoreline protection, and elevation of structures. The Plans were completed in 2016, but work continues within the communities through each’s interagency planning work group.
DCRA also supports community-focused coastal adaptation planning and projects with a portion of Alaska’s federal grant funding through the Coastal Impact Assistance Program (CIAP, a program that allocates funding to oil and gas producing states). For example, the Bering Straits Coastal Association received a grant in 2014 to update its Coastal Management Plan, which informs 15 coastal communities within the region — many of which experience major impacts from erosion and storms that are worsening as a result of climate change. Other funding through the federal CIAP goes to the departments of natural resources, and fish and game, and has been used for vulnerability mapping efforts (e.g., by the Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys within DNR) and other adaptation projects.
Data and Mapping
Finally, DCRA provides information on flood risk to communities through the Alaska Risk MAP Program, a partnership between the State of Alaska and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Through Risk MAP, the state is helping communities understand flood risk and integrate these considerations into decision making and planning, including hazard mitigation planning.
(Research last updated: July 11, 2018).