ICYMI: Insider Speaker Series Webinar on Sea Level Rise  | Cal Parks
Published: April 4, 2023

California State Parks Foundation launched the Insider Speaker series to educate members and donors on topics relevant to state parks. These webinars are also an opportunity for you to learn more about the work we’re doing in California state parks!  

To become a member of California State Parks Foundation today and receive invitations to the Insider Speaker Series!  

Our most recent addition to the series was on March 29, when we brought several experts together to discuss sea level rise. Sea level rise in California could reach up to 7 feet by 2100. To protect the California coast from this climate threat, California State Parks Foundation funds sea level rise adaptation projects, supports legislation, and rallies our supporters to join our efforts. 

If you couldn’t join us live for the event, you can watch the recording here!  

At the webinar, we heard from the following experts: 



rae taylor burns

Rae Taylor-Burns

uses quantitative modeling approaches to investigate pathways for coastal communities to cope with sea level rise. Her dissertation investigates how coastal marsh ecosystems can protect communities from flooding, and spans the fields of engineering, ecology, and social science.  

Michelle Succow

Michelle Succow

is a Senior Environmental Scientist in California State Parks' Natural Resources Division focused on sea level rise and coastal hazards. She started at State Parks in 2018 and led the development — and now implementation — of the department's Sea Level Rise Adaptation Strategy.  

The webinar was hosted by Emily Doyle, California State Parks Foundation’s Climate Resilience Manager, who laid out some of the main issues surrounding sea level rise. She explained that the global sea level has risen by almost 4 inches over the past 30 years, threatening coastlines around the world, including California. She also laid out the difference between coastal armoring and nature-based solutions, which protect coastlines from rising sea levels. Coastal armoring includes man-made structures like sea walls and piles of large rocks called rip rap. However, these structures can damage the surrounding shoreline and lead to total beach loss. On the other hand, nature-based solutions, like restoring coastal wetlands and native dune habitat, can mitigate the impacts of sea level rise while fostering more resilient ecosystems. 

Rae Taylor-Burns expanded on the idea of nature-based solutions while discussing her research at UC Santa Cruz on coastal marsh restoration. Her lab uses computer models and other tools to determine how much a restored marsh would mitigate the impacts of sea level rise and what would be the economic benefit. She also discussed the San Francisco Bay Shoreline Adaptation Atlas, which contains comprehensive information on how to move forward protecting us against sea level rise. 

Michelle Succow then discussed California State Parks’ Sea Level Rise Adaptation Strategy, which she helped draft in 2021. This report is a roadmap to preparing state parks for sea level rise. Since nearly a quarter of California’s coasts are owned and managed by California State Parks, this plan is a critical step to ensuring state parks’ resilience to sea level rise. 

Check out the recording of the full event here to hear directly from each of our panelists.