Fain, Planning Director for the Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) since October, was part of a three-person office in the Waterfront and Open Space Division of New York’s Department of City Planning. “We were doing a small study on adaptation options,” she recalls. “In the middle of that, Sandy hit. Suddenly all eyes were on us.” Fain brings that background to a setting unlike New York in many ways. Instead of five boroughs, for example, she’s dealing with a multiplicity of counties, cities, and special districts. But the Bay Area presents new opportunities: “There’s more space for green infrastructure, wetlands, adaptive solutions at a large scale. New York is so constrained; it’s built out to the edge.” She’s involved with pending Bay Plan amendments addressing environmental justice, social equity and fill for habitat, coming later this year. The idea of placing sediment in wetlands to allow tidal marsh vegetation to keep up with rising sea levels is a paradigm shift for BCDC, whose original mission was to stop the filling of the Bay; Fain believes the restoration community and environmental groups are on board with the new direction. She’s also working on the regional Adapting to Rising Tides Program. Regional coordination is a challenge, but Fain is optimistic: “The will is there. It’s a question of how to get all the actors in line to figure out the best way to work though it.”

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

Jessica Fain got a crash course in resilience planning when Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast in 2012.

Fain, Planning Director for the Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) since October, was part of a three-person office in the Waterfront and Open Space Division of New York’s Department of City Planning. “We were doing a small study on adaptation options,” she recalls. “In the middle of that, Sandy hit. Suddenly all eyes were on us.” Fain brings that background to a setting unlike New York in many ways. Instead of five boroughs, for example, she’s dealing with a multiplicity of counties, cities, and special districts. But the Bay Area presents new opportunities: “There’s more space for green infrastructure, wetlands, adaptive solutions at a large scale. New York is so constrained; it’s built out to the edge.” She’s involved with pending Bay Plan amendments addressing environmental justice, social equity and fill for habitat, coming later this year. The idea of placing sediment in wetlands to allow tidal marsh vegetation to keep up with rising sea levels is a paradigm shift for BCDC, whose original mission was to stop the filling of the Bay; Fain believes the restoration community and environmental groups are on board with the new direction. She’s also working on the regional Adapting to Rising Tides Program. Regional coordination is a challenge, but Fain is optimistic: “The will is there. It’s a question of how to get all the actors in line to figure out the best way to work though it.”

About the author

Joe Eaton writes about endangered and invasive species, climate and ecosystem science, environmental history, and water issues for ESTUARY. He is also "a semi-obsessive birder" whose pursuit of rarities has taken him to many of California's shores, wetlands, and sewage plants.

Related Posts

blue whale feeding

Blue Whales Consume Microplastic Particles by the Billion

The age of humans, termed the Anthropocene, might just as well be considered the age of plastic. The dangerously durable material, made ubiquitous in products and packaging through the late 20th century, has inundated our planet’s environment. Today, miniscule plastic pieces are present in deep-ocean sediment, high-mountain snow and just about...

Sharing Science Across Barriers

Growing up on Chicago’s South Side, an urban landscape of metal and concrete, Miguel Mendez had limited access to open spaces, and always dreamed of traveling. Yet there in the city, he got his first introduction to environmentalism. “In some of the places I lived in Chicago, environmental activists are...

The Long Haul to Restore San Joaquin Spring-Run Chinook

When a team of fish biologists was tasked with restoring spring-run Chinook salmon in the San Joaquin River in 2006, none of them quite knew where to begin. The thirsty farms that crowd the river on both sides had taken almost all the water out of it most years since...