Project Description

The Town of Brewster is undertaking a collaborative effort to develop a comprehensive plan to address changes to its coastal areas. The Town’s seven miles of Cape Cod Bay coastline, including its beaches, tidal flats, dunes and salt marshes, are highly valued by residents and visitors for its beauty, and for swimming, fishing and boating opportunities. The Town’s ten public landings, which provide access to the beach and tidal flats and are in high demand during the peak summer period, are threatened by erosion and damage from storms, challenging the Town’s efforts to provide safe, reliable, and easy access to the coast.

The Coastal Adaptation Strategy will be based on current scientific information and on extensive public input and guidance. The public engagement consultant team is led by the Consensus Building Institute (CBI), with facilitators Stacie Smith and Eric Roberts. Technical and scientific information will be provided by the Horsley Witten Group, the Association to Preserve Cape Cod, and the Center for Coastal Studies, as well as by town staff, departments, and committees. The technical team will help residents and the town to understand 1) the nature and magnitude of climate variability and change; 2) the capital and natural resources that will be exposed to and impacted by climate change; and 3) the current capacity of the Town and of our coastal resources to adapt to and cope with changing conditions.

The process is guided by a representative Brewster Coastal Advisory Group (BCAG), which is working with Town staff and the technical team over the next several months to review technical information and broader public input to help evaluate potential management strategies, including retreat, abandonment, or expansion of some access points, and alternative modes of transportation, that are responsive to changing conditions. The process will also draw on results from a citizen survey to gauge the public’s view on access and alternative strategies. Interactive public workshops and meetings will enable the broader public to help develop a vision for Brewster’s coast that could make it more resilient to storms of greater frequency and intensity while accommodating strong public demand for access. Ultimately, this effort will result in a Coastal Adaptation Strategy that identifies a mix of actions appropriate to Brewster to enable the Town to adapt to changing coastal conditions.

Our goal is for the BCAG to publicly recommend a set of strategies and mechanisms to address key community vulnerabilities, issues, and priorities and to identify the community’s preferred adaptation strategies by spring, with a final report by September 2016.

What we’ve done so far:

CBI facilitators first interviewed a broad range of citizens interested in Brewster’s coast to help clarify the range of concerns, perspectives, and potential options to adaptively manage Brewster’s coastal areas and access to them, and to seek input on a representative stakeholder group and other public involvement needs. Based on these interviews, CBI developed draft recommendations for public engagement and presented them at a public scoping meeting on December 9 (see meeting information below) to solicit more input.

CBI refined the stakeholder engagement recommendations based on community feedback heard at the December 9 meeting and then solicited self-nominations for a range of representatives to serve on the Brewster Coastal Advisory Group (BCAG). CBI then submitted the list of names to the Brewster Board of Selectmen, which appointed the individuals to the BCAG. Liaisons from several town committees have also been invited to attend the BCAG meetings.

The BCAG meets monthly, and all meetings are open to the public and available for viewing on Brewster Government Channel 18. All meeting materials are posted below.

For questions or comments on this project, please email Stacie Smith or Eric Roberts