Joining the Bay Conservation and Development Commission as Program Manager for the Adapting to Rising Tides ( ART) program last November, Brechwald oversees multiple projects assessing coastal areas that are vulnerable to sea level rise. “We’re working at every scale, from the federal level down to community members who will be affected by climate adaptation,” she explains. Brechwald and her team cover the gamut of a community’s assets — from transportation systems to areas set aside for more development or conservation — offering tools and guidance for how to prepare for specific local climate change challenges. “There are a number of factors that we look at to identify communities where people are less able to prepare, respond to, or recover from disasters,” says Brechwald, who previously worked as a Resilience Planner at the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG/MTC). With BCDC ART charged only with planning, not regulating, Brechwald believes her greatest challenge is getting the adaptation strategies her team identifies implemented on the ground. To do so, the ART team must work closely with agencies that possess the authority to make change happen. “There is an opportunity for the region to take a stronger stance and come together in a way that can make a significant impact on how we prepare for climate change,” Brechwald says. Looking ahead, she hopes to encourage city planners to use ART’s extensive research and predictive tools when planning and developing their communities. “A lot of our issues — whether it’s wildfire, earthquakes or sea level rise—are common, and the tools that cities can use [to address each of them] are all similar,” she says. “How we think about land use and planning can, and [should]be, adapted to changing conditions.”

Pearls in the ocean of information that our reporters didn’t want you to miss
 

Dana Brechwald is trying to bring rising sea levels to the forefront of the conversation for Bay Area communities and their affiliated agencies.

Joining the Bay Conservation and Development Commission as Program Manager for the Adapting to Rising Tides ( ART) program last November, Brechwald oversees multiple projects assessing coastal areas that are vulnerable to sea level rise. "We're working at every scale, from the federal level down to community members who will be affected by climate adaptation," she explains. Brechwald and her team cover the gamut of a community's assets — from transportation systems to areas set aside for more development or conservation — offering tools and guidance for how to prepare for specific local climate change challenges. "There are a number of factors that we look at to identify communities where people are less able to prepare, respond to, or recover from disasters,” says Brechwald, who previously worked as a Resilience Planner at the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG/MTC). With BCDC ART charged only with planning, not regulating, Brechwald believes her greatest challenge is getting the adaptation strategies her team identifies implemented on the ground. To do so, the ART team must work closely with agencies that possess the authority to make change happen. “There is an opportunity for the region to take a stronger stance and come together in a way that can make a significant impact on how we prepare for climate change," Brechwald says. Looking ahead, she hopes to encourage city planners to use ART's extensive research and predictive tools when planning and developing their communities. "A lot of our issues — whether it's wildfire, earthquakes or sea level rise—are common, and the tools that cities can use [to address each of them] are all similar," she says. "How we think about land use and planning can, and [should]be, adapted to changing conditions.”

About the author

Ashleigh Papp is a science writer based in San Francisco. She has a background in animal science and biology, she enjoys writing about emerging environmental issues, our oceans, and conservation-related science. For ESTUARY, she often covers wildlife. When not reading or writing, she's playing outside with friends or inside with her cat, Sandy.