Kahl Organizes Program on Coastal Resilience for Cape Ann

Katie Kahl. Desi Smith photo
Katie Kahl (Desi Smith photo)

Nearly 70 people representing public and private businesses, community leaders, state and federal government, environmental organizations and the arts community attended a one-hour program, “How Climate Change is Changing Your Life,” on June 20 in Gloucester to learn about coastal resilience opportunities and actions on Cape Ann. The event was organized by Katie Kahl, extension assistant professor in sustainable fisheries and coastal resilience at the UMass Amherst Gloucester Marine Station and member of the host organization, Cape Ann Innovators Collaborative (CAIC).

Kahl says the panel discussion she moderated at Cruiseport Gloucester was intended to “empower community members to understand what coastal resilience means for them, their family, their business and their communities.” She adds, “Coastal resilience is the ability for a community, an ecological system or a business to bounce back after an extreme weather event, like the flooding we experienced this past winter.”

She noted that by providing basic information on the science behind changes now observed in temperature and storm events, for example, she and other organizers hope to generate thoughtful, creative, constructive conversation about what communities can and should do to advance resilience planning.

The event follows closely on the heels of the state’s Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness workshops that all four Cape Ann communities recently completed to prioritize actions needed to safeguard public structures, beaches, salt marsh and other areas that benefit people and nature.

Kahl adds that the organizers’ and state goals mesh well with those of CAIC, which include inspiring innovation to grow the Cape Ann economy and create new jobs in the marine sectors. She plans to work with CAIC to plan more meet-up events on a broad range of topics informed by an overarching concern for ecological and economic sustainability.

In addition to Kahl, Michelle Staudinger, science coordinator of the Northeast Climate Adaptation Science Center at UMass Amherst, Kathryn Glenn of the Massachusetts Coastal Zone Management Program and Gregg Cademartori, Gloucester city planning director, spoke at the event.

The session was the second CAIC meet-up, following a biotech forum in March that marked the launch of this series, Kahl notes. The next CAIC meeting is planned for September, and future meet-ups are expected to address other innovation topics such as the creative economy, science and technology, business financing, 21st century manufacturing and the region’s growing community of people who work remotely.

Kahl, who began work at the Marine Station at Hodgkins Cove in January, most recently spent six years in Michigan working for the Nature Conservancy with Great Lakes communities, state and provincial governments, municipalities and other organizations on climate change adaptation and coastal resilience. She has a master’s and Ph.D. in landscape ecology from Michigan State University’s department of fisheries and wildlife and a B.S. in biology from Truman State University in Missouri.