Thursday, May 31, 2012

Hello from Lansing!

Hello again from Lansing!

The past 8 months since I started my fellowship with the Coastal Management Program (CMP) and Michigan Sea Grant have been busy! I’ve been fortunate to have the opportunity to get involved in number of projects with both Sea Grant and CMP staff, attend conferences and workshops, and meet some great people. I am making good progress on my investigation of working waterfronts and am continuously learning. I have the benefit of great mentors and an insightful advisory committee who have really helped to shape my fellowship and this working waterfront project into something meaningful.

A few working waterfront project updates:

While I’ve wrapped up a lot of the data collection I was working on, I find that there is always more to dig up on some of the issues - such as ports, jobs, tourism, industry, dredging, and coastal planning – that relate to and define working waterfronts.



Port Huron Lightship

I’ve started working case studies of a handful of coastal communities to get a better understanding of maritime amenities, waterfront planning, land use, and the geographic distribution of both water and non-water dependent businesses and uses within the Coastal Zone Boundary. It is my hope that this research and my conversations with these communities will help us to better identify some common and unique challenges working waterfronts across the state face, as well as share best practices for working waterfront protection.  

My Sea Grant supervisor Mark Breederland and I continue to participate in the National Working Waterfront Network. Developing case studies and learning more about national trends, issues, and strategies for protecting working waterfronts has helped me to put my research here in Michigan’s in perspective. It’s also been a great learning experience.

Travel and professional development opportunities have been great!

• In March first and second year fellows returned to Charleston, SC for a week to share experiences, participate in professional development sessions, and visit a local preserve. The fellows’ conference was a great experience. I especially appreciated the opportunity to learn about the second year fellows’ experiences and hear how the other 5 fellows in my cohort were doing. I was also excited to see alligators.

• In April I went to the Land and Prosperity Summit held by Michigan State University’s Land Policy Institute. It was one of the best one-day conferences I’ve attended. There was a lot of focus on place making and sense of place, which closely tied to working waterfronts in coastal communities.

OGL staff at Oval Beach in Saugatuck

• In May, I joined the Office of the Great Lakes (OGL) for a day of In-Service Training in Saugatuck, MI. We toured the beautiful Saugatuck Harbor Natural Area, a Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program (CELCP) project, enjoyed a walk on the beach, and listened to a pannel discussion on issues and opportunities related to tourism, infrastructure, and the harbor and waterways in Douglas and Saugatuck.

Saugatuck Harbor Natural Area

• Last week I was in Traverse City for a Port Collaborative and Lighthouse Conference. The conference was a great chance to have some face-to-face conversations, meet new partners, and learn from leaders about what’s going well and what needs improvement in their communities.

• In a couple days, the NOAA Coastal Management Fellows head to Miami for The Coastal Society Conference. First year fellows will be sharing our work during a poster session. I expect it will be a great conference.

It’s going to be a busy summer of site visits and I am looking forward to getting out and learning more about Michigan’s coastal communities!

Thanks for checking in,
Liz Durfee
NOAA Coastal Management Fellow
(8/2011 – 8/2013)
elizabeth.durfee@gmail.com

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