U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin introduced legislation on September 18th to help Wisconsin communities along the Great Lakes better prepare for storms, cope with varying lake levels, and strengthen economic development planning efforts along the shore.
“Our Great Lakes are a great asset for our quality of life but also for our long-term economic security. Wisconsin’s Great Lakes communities face a variety of challenges to keep their harbors open, their waters clean and their beaches ready for visitors,” said Senator Baldwin. “This bill ensures that our coastal communities have the resources and tools they need to adapt to changing environmental conditions, maintain healthy shores, and make smart planning decisions to support their local economies and way of life.”
The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) currently assembles and hosts the Digital Coast Project, a collaborative online database of the most up-to-date coastal information, and makes it available to both the public and private sectors for use in community planning and disaster response. NOAA also trains coastal communities how to decipher and use the high-tech mapping data to make accurate decisions and smart investments in coastal communities.
Baldwin’s Digital Coast Act authorizes the next phase in coastal mapping at NOAA by ensuring that coastal managers and developers will continue to have the data to make smart choices for economic development, shoreline management and coastal restoration. The Act supports further development of the current project, including increasing access to uniform, up-to-date data, to help communities get the coastal data they need to respond to emergencies, plan for long-term coastal resilience, and manage their water resources.
“Our nation’s coasts are not only where the majority of our population lives and works, much of our nation’s natural heritage and wealth in natural resources are also concentrated in these areas,” said Todd Holschbach, The Nature Conservancy in Wisconsin. “Working with Digital Coast has helped The Nature Conservancy’s Wisconsin, Great Lakes and coastal conservation staff access and share data and tools with partners to improve resilience, enhancing the environment and economies of communities across the country.”
“Coastal areas are under increasing demand. Without good data, it is difficult for communities and counties to balance the sometimes competing demands placed on our coasts. Planners in Wisconsin support this legislation so that we can have the data and information to help people and communities make wise, data-driven decisions for these critical coastal areas. We applaud Sen. Baldwin’s leadership on this issue,” said Lawrence Ward, Jr., AICP, President of Wisconsin Chapter of the American Planning Association and Executive Director, Southwestern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission.
The Digital Coast Act is co-sponsored by Senators Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Maria Cantwell (D-WA.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Mark Begich (D-AK), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), and Angus King (I-ME). Bipartisan companion legislation has also been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Additional support includes: Continental Mapping Consultants, Quantum Spatial, Ozaukee County Planning and Parks Department, American Planning Association (APA), Association of State Floodplain Managers (ASFPM), Coastal States Organization (CSO), National Association of Counties (NACo), National Estuarine Research Reserve Association (NERRA), National States Geographic Information Council (NSGIC), The Nature Conservancy (TNC), Urban Land Institute (ULI), Management Association for Private Photogrammetric Surveyors (MAPPS), and National Society of Professional Surveyors (NSPS).
The Digital Coast Act is part of NSGIC’s Advocacy Agenda.