and Community Viability
on Louisiana’s Gulf Coast
Heather Kreidler, Rapporteur
Board on Environmental Change
Division of Behavioral and
Social Sciences and Education
Proceedings of a Workshop
NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS 500 Fifth Street, NW Washington, DC 20001
This activity was supported by the Gulf Research Program of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of any organization or agency that provided support for the project.
International Standard Book Number-13: 978-0-309-69579-4
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Digital Object Identifier: https://doi.org/10.17226/26774
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Suggested citation: National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Assisted Resettlement and Community Viability on Louisiana’s Gulf Coast: Proceedings of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/26774.
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WORKSHOP PLANNING COMMITTEE ON MANAGED RETREAT IN THE U.S. GULF COAST REGION
JANICE BARNES (Co-Chair), Founding and Managing Partner, Climate Adaptation Partners
TRACIE T. SEMPIER (Co-Chair), Coastal Resilience Engagement Specialist, Mississippi–Alabama Sea Grant Consortium
KAYODE O. ATOBA, Associate Research Scientist, Institute for a Disaster Resilient Texas, Texas A&M University
GARY S. BELKIN, Visiting Scientist, Harvard University T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and Founder and President, Billion Minds Institute
DEBRA M. BUTLER, Mellon Foundation Curriculum Development Fellow, Mellon Foundation NAIS Fellow at Five Colleges, Inc.
CRAIG E. COLTEN, Professor Emeritus, Louisiana State University
KATHERINE J. CURTIS, Associate Director and Professor of Community and Environmental Sociology, Center for Demography and Ecology, University of Wisconsin–Madison
HARRIET FESTING, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Anthropocene Alliance
LYNN R. GOLDMAN, Michael and Lori Milken Dean and Professor of Environmental and Occupational Health, Milken Institute School of Public Health George Washington University
E. BARRETT RISTROPH, Owner, Ristroph Law, Planning, and Research
CATHERINE L. ROSS, Regents’ Professor and Harry West Professor of City and Regional Planning, and Director, Center for Quality Growth and Regional Development, Georgia Institute of Technology
GAVIN P. SMITH, Professor, Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning, North Carolina State University
NATALIE L. SNIDER, Associate Vice President for Climate Resilient Coasts and Watersheds, Environmental Defense Fund
COURTNEY S. THOMAS TOBIN, Assistant Professor in Community Health Sciences, Fielding School of Public Health, and Faculty Associate, Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies, University of California, Los Angeles
CHANDRA L. MIDDLETON, Study Co-Director
JOHN BEN SOILEAU, Study Co-Director
THOMAS F. THORNTON, Board Director
GRACE BETTS, Research Associate
SITARA RAHIAB, Senior Program Assistant
BOARD ON ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGE AND SOCIETY
KRISTIE L. EBI (Chair), Professor, Rohm & Haas Endowed Professorship in Public Health Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle
BILAL M. AYYUB, Professor and Director, Center for Technology and Systems Management, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Maryland
LISA DILLING, Professor, Department of Environmental Studies, Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, University of Colorado Boulder
KENNETH GILLINGHAM, Professor, Yale School of the Environment, Yale University
LORI M. HUNTER, Professor of Sociology and Director, Population Research Program, Institute of Behavioral Science, University of Colorado Boulder
KATHARINE L. JACOBS, Director, Center for Climate Adaptation Science and Solutions (CCASS); Professor and Specialist, Department of Soil, Water and Environmental Science, University of Arizona
STEPHEN H. LINDER, Interim Chair, Department of Management, Policy and Community Health, Faculty Team, Health Policy, Quality Enhancement Plan, UTHSC, Co-Director, Community Engagement Core, Gulf Coast Center for Precision Environmental Health
MICHAEL ANTHONY MENDEZ, Assistant Professor, School of Social Ecology, Department of Urban Planning and Public Policy, University of California, Irvine
ASEEM PRAKASH, Professor, Department of Political Science, Walker Family Professor for the College of Arts and Sciences; Founding Director, Center for Environmental Politics, University of Washington, Seattle
BENJAMIN KENNETH SOVACOOL, Professor of Earth and Environment, Boston University
MICHAEL P. VANDENBERGH, Professor and David Daniels Allen Distinguished Chair in Law, Vanderbilt University Law School
CATHY L. WHITLOCK, Professor of Earth Sciences, Montana State University
THOMAS F. THORNTON, Board Director
COMMITTEE ON POPULATION
ANNE R. PEBLEY (Chair), Research Professor, Fielding School of Public Health and California Center for Population Research, University of California Los Angeles
EMILY M. AGREE, Research Professor, Johns Hopkins University, and Associate Director, Hopkins Population Center
DEBORAH BALK, Professor of Public Affairs, School of Public and International Affairs, Baruch College
ANN K. BLANC, Vice President of Social and Behavioral Science Research, The Population Council
COURTNEY C. COILE, Professor of Economics, Wellesley College
SONALDE DESAI, Distinguished University Professor, University of Maryland
DANA A. GLEI, Senior Research Investigator, Georgetown University
ROBERT A. HUMMER, Howard W. Odum Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Fellow, Carolina Population Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
HEDWIG LEE, Professor of Sociology, Washington University in St. Louis
TREVON D. LOGAN, Hazel C. Youngberg Trustees Distinguished Professor of Economics and Associate Dean, College of Arts and Sciences, The Ohio State University
JENNIFER J. MANLY, Associate Professor of Neuropsychology, Gertrude H. Sergievsky Center and the Taub Institute for Research in Aging and Alzheimer’s Disease, Columbia University
JENNA NOBLES, Professor of Sociology, University of Wisconsin–Madison
FERNANDO RIOSMENA, Associate Professor, Population Program and Geography Department, University of Colorado at Boulder
DAVID T. TAKEUCHI, Associate Dean for Faculty Excellence, School of Social Work, University of Washington
MALAY MAJMUNDAR, Director
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This Proceedings of a Workshop was reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in making each published proceedings as sound as possible and to ensure that it meets the institutional standards for quality, objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the process.
We thank the following individual for their review of this proceedings: Lori Hunter, University of Colorado at Boulder. We also thank staff member Maryann Terrana for reading and providing helpful comments on this manuscript.
Although the reviewers listed above provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the content of the proceedings nor did they see the final draft before its release. The review of this proceedings was overseen Stephen H. Linder, University of Texas, Houston. He was responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this proceedings was carried out in accordance with standards of the National Academies and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content rests entirely with the rapporteur and the National Academies.
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Strategically moving communities away from environmentally high-risk areas, such as vulnerable coasts, has been referred to as “managed retreat.”1 Of all the ways humans respond to climate-related disasters, managed retreat has been one of the most controversial due to the difficulty inherent in identifying how, when, where, and by whom such movement should take place.
Managed retreat is a complex and controversial concept that has proven difficult to assess or implement as a collective response to environmental change. The phrase conjures disparate ideas: a well-organized top-down relocation strategy on the one hand and a desperate defeat by “retreating” communities on the other. Communities considering relocation feel this dissonance, leading many to search for alternate ways of discussing the possibility, including not using the term “managed retreat” at all. Another difficulty in discussing managed retreat is the variability of its definition. In some contexts, it describes passive retreat measures, such as creating barriers to continued growth by changing zoning laws or providing disincentives (e.g., actuarially fair insurance rates).2 In other cases, it describes active measures, such as moving physical structures.3 One result of these difficulties is that other solutions to mitigating climate impacts
1 Spidalieri, K., and Bennett, A. (n.d.). Georgetown Climate Center’s Managed Retreat Toolkit. https://www.georgetownclimate.org/adaptation/toolkits/managed-retreat-toolkit/introduction.html
2 Cheong, S.-M. (2010). Policy solutions in the U.S. Climatic Change, 106(1), 57–70.
3 Pinter, N. (2021). True stories of managed retreat from rising waters. Issues in Science and Technology, 37(4), 64–73.
on residential areas—like erecting floodwalls or raising structures—are considered and often implemented before discussing relocation as an adaptive strategy. Additionally, many areas requiring a retreat are of significant socio-economic disadvantage,4 raising questions of how the nation’s historical and ongoing social and economic inequities5 might be considered in the context of managed retreat.
Population growth, coupled with the rapid onset of climate change over the last century, means that a retreat could potentially involve coordinating the relocation of major cities, as well as smaller communities. In both cases, relocation would take enormous resources over the course of many years, making it an unenviable prospect for politicians and policy makers. However, given the increasing prevalence and severity of climate-related impacts on many coastal communities, consideration of managed retreat as an option for communities to reduce their exposure is a timely challenge. The drivers of climate displacement and relocation are well documented (e.g., floods). However, less understood are the financial, policy, and decisionmaking mechanisms that facilitate or occlude relocation, on the one hand, and the perspectives of frontline communities that must navigate these mechanisms when faced with the reality of relocation, on the other. Advancing this discussion by including the voices of communities faced with the difficult consideration of managed retreat as an adaptive strategy to coastal change may support equitable and effective decision making.
4 Martinich, J., Neumann, J., Ludwig, L., and Jantarasami, L. (2013). Risks of sea level rise to disadvantaged communities in the United States. Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change, 18(2), 169–185.
5 Siders, A.R., and Ajibade, I. (2021). Introduction: Managed retreat and environmental justice in a changing climate. Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences, 11(3), 287–293.
ORGANIZATION OF THE WORKSHOP PROCEEDINGS
2 Community Perspectives on Issues, Challenges, and Opportunities for Coastal Louisiana
COMMUNITY PERSPECTIVES FROM LOUISIANA’S BAYOU REGION
ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION: NUANCES OF RESETTLEMENT
3 Equity in Community Viability and Environmental Change
OPENING COMMENTS: REFLECTIONS ON THE ROUNDTABLE SESSION
GENTRIFICATION ALONG COASTAL LOUISIANA
INFORMATION AND DATA GAPS FOR EQUITABLE AND EFFECTIVE RELOCATION PROJECTS
BARRIERS TO RESETTLEMENT AND OTHER FORMS OF ADAPTATION
POTENTIAL INEQUITIES OF RELOCATION PROGRAMS
COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT AND PARTICIPATION
BUILDING COMMUNITY CAPACITY AND COMMUNITY RECOGNITION
4 Community Perspectives on Displacement, Assisted Resettlement, and Receiving Communities in Louisiana
COMMUNITY STORIES OF DISPLACEMENT AND RESETTLEMENT
IMPLICATIONS OF DISPLACEMENT AND RESETTLEMENT ON MENTAL HEALTH AND COMMUNITY WELL-BEING
CULTURAL AWARENESS IN EDUCATION AND POLICIES
IMPACT OF COASTAL RESTORATION EFFORTS ON DECISION MAKING
INSURANCE IN THE CONTEXT OF DISPLACEMENT
WELCOMING RECEIVING COMMUNITIES
GAPS IN KNOWLEDGE FOR RESIDENTS AND DECISION MAKERS
SENSE OF PLACE AND MULTI-LOCAL CONSIDERATIONS
5 Resettling and Receiving Stories from Across Louisiana
PERSON-TO-PERSON EXPERIENCES AND COMMUNITY RESPONSES
TRANSFERABLE LESSONS FROM SHORT-TERM DISASTER DISPLACEMENTS
BUILDING COMMUNITY CONNECTIONS
6 Housing, Health, and Planning in the Context of Resettlement and Receiving Communities
COMMUNITY STORIES FROM TERREBONNE PARISH
BALANCING SAFE DEVELOPMENT AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
PLANNING AND INVESTMENTS FOR RECEIVING COMMUNITIES AND DECLINING COMMUNITIES
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