A Student’s View of the Shoreline

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I spent this summer as BCDC’s Adapting to Rising Tides Summer 2023 Intern with California State University’s Council of Ocean Affairs, Science, and Technology (COAST), where I provided support for shoreline projects that prepare the Bay Area for sea level rise.


During my internship, I supported BCDC’s Regional Shoreline Adaptation Plan (RSAP), a long-term plan to protect and adapt Bay Area communities, developed shoreline areas, and natural ecosystems to sea level rise. As part of this effort, the RSAP aims to create a shared regional vision for climate adaptation in the Bay Area — which means that outreach in local communities is essential to its success. To help BCDC with its outreach efforts, I conducted research on pop-up events across the Bay Area and identified opportunities for local engagement. I focused on locating events in vulnerable shoreline communities and considered various aspects of equity in my research such as ticket prices, time of day, and the location’s accessibility. I ultimately found a variety of local events where BCDC could interact with community members and get their input on the vision and goals of the RSAP. Through this research, I learned a lot about effective strategies to understand the public’s perception of sea level rise.

In addition, I supported the Shoreline Adaptation Project Map (SAPMap) during my internship. The SAPMap is a regional mapping database that spatially tracks adaptation projects, communicates progress on shoreline resilience goals, and supports a network of community-based partners leading adaptation planning. My task was reviewing a spreadsheet and entering updated information on existing habitat and shoreline adaptation projects into EcoAtlas Project Tracker. Although I started this project with no prior experience in Geographic Information System (GIS), I steadily learned the basic concepts and improved my data entry technique over time. This project gave me the opportunity to learn about the complexities of mapping and expand my spatial knowledge of the Bay Area.

Map in EcoAtlas of the "Hayward Area Shoreline Adaptation Master Plan (SAMP) Planning Area".

These two projects show that the Bay Area is countering climate change by creating solutions based on community collaboration and visualization. The region needs tools and strategies like these to create urban and natural environments that can withstand future climate impacts, including sea level rise.

My work at BCDC has opened my eyes to new career paths that I had not envisioned before. After working with and learning from professionals here, I feel more drawn to a career in restoration design and environmental consulting. My interest in environmental justice positions has also grown as a result of my internship’s focus on community demographics and climate action. Based on my experiences as an intern, I plan to focus more of my academic career on expanding my knowledge of conservation biology, urban planning, and environmental justice. This internship has also encouraged me to explore research opportunities such as graduate programs related to marine or environmental science. Thanks to BCDC and CSU COAST, I am now eager to find a career where I can help create climate solutions!

At BCDC’s Staff Retreat, interns and staff members enjoyed a morning ferry ride on the Bay.

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Roxanne Wilkerson

Roxanne Wilkerson

Roxanne Wilkerson worked with BCDC staff during the summer of 2023 as a California State University’s Council of Ocean Affairs, Science, and Technology (COAST) fellow. During her internship, she was a Junior at Sonoma State University studying Geography, Environmental Studies, and Planning with a minor in Sustainability. Roxanne is passionate about restoration ecology and conservation sciences.

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