Western Carolina University’s Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines has reached the $5 million mark in receiving grants to support its research and work.
A National Park Service grant in August for $420,000 to study the vulnerability of infrastructures by natural hazards helped the self-sustaining program, which depends on grants, local government contracts and donor support, to reach that milestone, the university announced this week.
“This is an important moment for us. The continued funding reflects the very high quality of work performed by our staff. We fill many needs for a variety of entities that don’t have the expertise or the capacity to do their own analysis,” said Rob Young, director of the program and professor of coastal geology, in a statement. “We provide tools to assist public and private entities in identifying hazards, examining how their infrastructure will perform when exposed to those hazards, and planning for adaptation.”
The Western Carolina University research and policy outreach initiative is internationally recognized and works to find economically viable and environmentally sound solutions to coastal problems, according to a release from the university.
“Locally we’ve seen the impact of Tropical Storm Fred and the devastation on our Haywood County neighbors, particularly in the Cruso community,” Young said. “The ramifications of climate, like this, reinforce the need for further study and mitigation.”
Following an editorial he wrote for The New York Times’ Sept. 2 edition, Young was interviewed by CBS News and is frequently called upon by national and local media for expert commentary on climate, erosion and shoreline development topics.
Young and his colleagues conducted a pilot program for vulnerability assessment of a Duck, a coastal community and beach destination, American Flood Coalition members, a nonpartisan organization advocating for national solutions to flooding and sea level rise, and worked with the National Park Service on both threats to coastal and inland infrastructure.
Additionally, the center has assisted in coastal management issues from the Bulgarian Black Sea to the Caribbean islands of Jamaica, Montserrat, Barbuda and the Dominican Republic, with a particular interest in underrepresented communities.
Of the $5 million, more than $600,000 has gone to support the overall research mission of WCU, as indirect costs.
For more information about Western’s program for the study of developed shorelines, visit psds.wcu.edu.