Policy, Planning, & Risk Reduction Strategies

Supporting planning, policy, and risk reduction strategies to address coastal hazards

Tools and resources are available to help access local government coastal resilience information and identify local resilience opportunities. Several of these products and complementary resources are described below.

Coastal Resilience Self-Assessment Tool

A coastal resilience self-assessment has been developed to help communities weigh the effects of common coastal hazards and begin to consider planning and mitigation opportunities that may increase the coastal resilience of their community. The assessment contains a tool to prioritize coastal hazards issues, a series yes/no questions related to common planning and mitigation actions and a summary to reflect on the top actions of interest to your community. The self-assessment provides a starting point to identify opportunities to increase a community’s resilience to coastal hazards. The Wisconsin Coastal Resilience Project team will review completed self-assessment to provide further guidance and assistance on the key issues identified in the assessment.

The Self Assessment is available for download here: Coastal Resilience Self Assessment

A separate Appendix contains links to resources for each topic: Appendix 

Guidance on Risk Reduction Strategies

Resources were produced as part of the Southeastern Wisconsin Coastal Resilience Project to provide education and guidance on risk reduction strategies that can be utilized to protect Great Lakes bluffs, beaches, and waterfront infrastructure. These guidance documents are specific to the Great Lakes and incorporate regional context, examples, and practices that are appropriate for the dynamic and high energy environments of Lake Michigan.

A Property Owner’s Guide to Protecting Your Bluff – A guide that explains practices property owners can use to take care of their bluffs, including informed site usage, proper water drainage, stabilizing vegetation, and if necessary, bluff toe protection.

Nature-Based Shorelines (NBS) for Wisconsin’s Great Lakes Coast – A guide describing six different types of NBS techniques that may be suitable for the Great Lakes and includes case studies for each technique to illustrate its use in this region.

Great Lakes Port, Harbor, and Infrastructure Cost Matrix and Dredging Contract Database – This tool provides a framework for non-technical users to estimate the cost to repair and replace Great Lakes port, harbor, and marina infrastructure as well as to dredge harbors committed to commercial and recreational navigation. Note: prices of labor and materials are dynamic and change frequently.

Resilient Beach Practices Guide – A guide on how to plan for, absorb, recover from, and adapt to coastal hazards and stressors. This guide provides a blueprint on how to plan, build and maintain beaches that are resilient to coastal hazards.

Coastal Ordinances and Policies

Community zoning ordinance provisions can reduce the risk that coastal development is exposed to and limit adverse impacts to the coast. These ordinances can include provisions on setback distances from the bluff edge for new development or redevelopment, building relocation, vegetation removal, stormwater management, on-site waste disposal, or the use of shore protection devices, as well as requirements for engineering or geotechnical analyses of proposed site modifications that may affect safety or bluff stability. Below are links to guidance on Coastal Ordinances and Policies that have been created for Wisconsin’s coastal communities.

SEWRPC Model Zoning Regulations for Lake Michigan Bluff Setbacks – A model ordinance for building setbacks from bluffs for new development along Lake Michigan

Managing Coastal Hazard Risks on Wisconsin’s Dynamic Great Lakes Shoreline – A report that describes coastal hazards in Wisconsin that includes an erosion hazard model ordinance with language on erosion hazard setbacks, regulated uses, shoreline protection devices, conditional uses, nonconfromance, and variances.

Coastal Ordinance Provisions in Wisconsin Communities – A report that reviews county, city, village and town ordinances in Wisconsin that contain provisions that have been adopted to reduce the risks to coastal development as of 2016

Protecting Coastal Investments: Examples of Regulations for Wisconsin’s Coastal Communities – A guide that describes the causes of coastal erosion and provides ordinance language on coastal setbacks, relocatable structures, shoreline protection, stormwater management, site planning, and hazard disclosure. An inventory of coastal setback provisions as of 2008 is provided as an appendix.

Adapting to a Changing Coast – Options and Resources for Local Officials in Southeastern Wisconsin Coastal Communities – Publication with 28 policy, permitting, funding, and collaboration options that local governments can pursue to improve their ability to adapt to changing water levels and other coastal hazards.

Coastal Community Planning

An interactive map has been developed that provides quick access to local government information about coastal resilience for communities in Wisconsin. By clicking on one of the municipalities or counties along the coast, one can access useful information, including general government and mapping websites, comprehensive and hazard mitigation plans, and relevant ordinances. The framework for this work was completed as part of the NOAA-funded Great Lakes Coastal Storms Program. The map draws from information in Google Spreadsheets and code is shared through a GitHub site.

Related Resources 

The following resources provide guidance on incorporating vulnerability, hazards, and resilience in comprehensive and hazard mitigation planning.

Addressing Coastal Hazards in Local Comprehensive and Hazard Mitigation Plans A report that analyses policies found in local comprehensive and hazard mitigation plans for Wisconsin cities, villages and counties along the shores of Lake Superior and Lake Michigan.

Great Lake Coastal Resilience Planning GuideA website with guidance on Great Lakes coastal hazard resilience featuring case studies, tools, maps, data and publications

A Guide to Hazard Mitigation Planning for Wisconsin’s Coastal Communities – A guide that describes how to identify, profile and mitigate coastal hazards for inclusion in a hazard mitigation plan

Plan Integration for Resilience Scorecard Guidebook – A guide that describes how to evaluate how multiple community plans (i.e., hazard mitigation, land use, economic development, etc.) may affect a community’s vulnerability to hazards and how to identify priorities for better integrating strategies across plans to reduce overall community vulnerability to hazards

A Guide to Planning for Coastal Communities in Wisconsin – A guide that describes how to address coastal issues in a variety of community planning considerations