Promoting Resilient Groundwater Resources and Holistic Watershed Management at Kachemak Bay NERR

In 2016, the Kachemak Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve hosted a workshop series to develop strategies for coping with coastal climate change on the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska. The workshops were the result of a Science Collaborative Science Transfer grant, as well as involvement in the Successful Adaptation Indicators and Metrics project. Through the workshops, scientists, agency resource planners and regulators, conservation non-profits, tribal members, and community leaders were brought together to share ideas about what a thriving Kachemak Bay community might look like and explore how climate and environmental changes may affect the future. Participants also identified strategies and actions needed for building more resilient communities and linked these to local efforts to move adaptive planning forward in the area. Resource planners, regulators, NOAA scientists, and Kachemak Bay reserve staff identified the critical need for information on groundwater flows that could be used in decision making. As a result of these workshops, the Kachemak Bay Reserve identified classifying and mapping groundwater discharge and recharge areas as a top priority, contributing to reserve efforts to lead ecosystem service valuation and climate change adaptation efforts.

This project takes existing spatial data sets, modeling frameworks, and local expertise, and integrates them with new science aimed at developing a comprehensive conceptual model and validated geospatial layer that can be used to predict specific locations where groundwater discharge and recharge occur. Working collaboratively with key end users who participated in the climate adaptation project and with additional end users identified through the Kachemak Bay Reserve’s Community Council, the project team will interpret the groundwater model for use in land use planning, permitting, policy decisions, and habitat protection.