• Group on beach
    Climate Adaptation Academy

Managed Retreat in the Age of Climate Change

Workshop held on November 13, 2020

When talking about community response to climate change issues, retreat is the "R" word. But it is already happening in coastal states throughout the country, including here in Connecticut. Is it a good or bad idea? Will we be forced to retreat due to sea level rise in 30 years or 50 years? What does it mean to a community and how do we manage it? This workshop was intended to begin the discussion about managed retreat in the face of climate change. Examples of retreat in Connecticut were also be highlighted.


View Workshop Agenda (pdf)

Article on Managed Retreat Workshop by Judy Benson, Communication Coordinator, Connecticut Sea Grant

Managed Coastal Retreat: A Legal Handbook on Shifting Development Away From Vulnerable Areas (2013) by AR Siders


Workshop Playlist - Watch all videos in UConn's MediaSpace


Welcome and Introduction: Setting the Stage


PDF presentation -  Managed Retreat Introduction



A.R. Siders (University of Delaware): Current and future tools of retreat


PDF presentation 1 - Why Managed Retreat





A.R. Siders (University of Delaware): Examples of communities that have used managed retreat tools; successes and failures

PDF presentation 2 - How Managed Retreat



Marjorie Shansky (Land Use Attorney): Legal Issues pertaining to managed retreat



Paul Dickson and Howard Weissberg (City of Meriden): Meriden Green. Managed retreat in an inland Connecticut city


PDF presentation - Meriden Green - From Flood Control to Downtown Redevelopment





Arde Ranthum and Kristin Walker  (USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service):  NRCS Emergency Watershed Protection Program, Floodplain Easements: West Haven Old Field Creek Neighborhood


PDF presentation - NRCS Emergency Watershed Protection Program, Floodplain Easements



Panelists answer questions from “The Chat.” Participants will be able to write questions during the presentations into the online Chat panel. Our speakers will answer these questions during this session.



A.R. Siders is an assistant professor in the Biden School of Public Policy and Administration and the Department of Geography and a Core Faculty Member of the Disaster Research Center. Siders' research focuses on climate change adaptation governance, decision-making, and evaluation. Her recent projects have focused on managed retreat as an adaptation strategy and the social justice implications of coastal adaptation. As an interdisciplinary scholar, Siders combines approaches from hazards geography, law, digital humanities, and computational social science. She collaborates with consulting companies and non-profit organizations to integrate climate change adaptation into disaster risk reduction and resilience building. Her work spans several geographic regions, including infrastructure development in the Arctic, coastal defense in the United States, and urban resilience in Africa, Europe, and South-East Asia. Siders previously served as a Presidential Management Fellow with the U.S. Navy, an associate director of the Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University, and an environmental fellow at the Harvard University Center for the Environment. She is a research fellow with the Earth Systems Governance Program, Florida Earth Foundation, Global Center for Climate Resilience, Climigration Network, Ocean Visions, and Earthquakes and Megacities Initiative. She holds a J.D. from Harvard Law School and a Ph.D. from Stanford University. She is originally from Duluth, Minnesota, and misses the cold.

Paul Dickson is the Acting Director of Planning, Development & Enforcement in Meriden.  Paul has been part of the City’s team to implement the Harbor Brook Master Plan as a Planner and Wetland Agent in Meriden for the past five years.  His background in Landscape Architecture provides an additional perspective on the implementation of flood control. When asked why he liked being a city planner, Paul said: “the work is a challenge and something that will absorb as much as you can provide. There is nothing more satisfying than seeing a project come to life.”

Howard Weissberg is the Director of Public Works in Meriden, Connecticut.  Prior to this, he was their Associate City Engineer for seven years.  His work experience includes serving as the Deputy Director of Public Works in New Haven, Connecticut, and as an engineer and administrator for both Maryland State Highway Administration and Anne Arundel County Maryland Department of Public Works.  He is a professional engineer with expertise in traffic operations, construction, infrastructure management and technology.   He was recently appointed to the Board of Directors for the New England Chapter of the American Public Works Association.

Arthur (Arde) Ramthun P. E. has been the CT NRCS State Conservation Engineer for 10 years and supervises a staff of 8 engineers and technicians.  He is responsible for the CT NRCS Farm Bill engineering projects, the Emergency Watershed Protection Program and advises DEEP on 28 state-owned PL 566 high hazard dams and the PL 566 South Branch Park River Channel System. Born in Shelby Michigan, Arde grew up on the family dairy farm in western Michigan and graduated with honors from Michigan State University with a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Engineering.

Kristin Walker graduated with a B.S. in Bio-Resource Engineering from the University of Maine, Orono.  She has since worked for the Natural Resources Conservation Service for the last 17+ years, starting her career as a Field Office Engineer out of the Central Valley, in Stockton, California.  In California, she was best known for her work with cropland and dairy farms, implementing a wide array of environmental and conservation friendly practices that included miles of pipelines, thousands of acres of irrigation systems, manure storage and processing systems, as well as a wide array of drainage management practices.

In 2015, she moved back to Connecticut to be closer to her roots where she signed on with the NRCS State Office in Tolland, Connecticut, as a Project Civil Engineer.  She began working with the Emergency Watershed Protection Program, Floodplain Easements in 2016, an entirely different career trajectory that involved placing permanent floodplain easements on residential and other privately owned lands impacted by Hurricane Sandy.  She was involved in the first two rounds of floodplain acquisitions where the USDA obtained 23 individual easements along the coastline of Connecticut.  Kristin now serves as the Floodplain Easement Program Coordinator for NRCS Connecticut where she continues to work on acquiring and restoring additional easements impacted by flooding from Hurricane Sandy.  She also works on the Emergency Watershed Protection Program, Disaster Recovery team, and is a Contracting Officer’s Representative for the PL-566 Watershed Program and other government contracts.

Marjorie Shansky is a solo practitioner in New Haven where she practices in the areas of land use and zoning. She received her bachelor’s degree in Music Education from Northwestern University, and a Master of Music degree from Yale University, after which she studied in Germany as a Fulbright Scholar. Ms. Shansky has been a member of the New Haven Symphony since 1972. She received her J.D. degree, with honors, from the University of Connecticut School of Law. Ms. Shansky is a certified presenter of Vice President Al Gore’s slide show on climate change having trained in Nashville with Mr. Gore and others in 2006 in connection with the Climate Reality Project (www.climaterealityproject.org). Ms. Shansky is in her eleventh year as a lecturer at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies in local environmental law and land use practices and in Fall, 2017, taught Land Use Law at Quinnipiac Law School. Before entering private practice, Ms. Shansky served as an Assistant Corporation Counsel for the City of New Haven, representing the Board of Zoning Appeals, City Plan Commission, and Development Administrator. She is a member of the Executive Committee of the Planning and Zoning Section of the Connecticut Bar Association, the American Bar Association, and the Connecticut Chapter of the American Planning Association. Ms. Shansky is a frequent speaker on substantive and procedural land use issues. Since 2005, Attorney Shansky has been the Law Trainer for the Connecticut Land Use Leadership Alliance (“LULA”), a four-day law, planning tools and collaborative process program initially developed at the Pace University Law School Land Use Law Center and currently enjoying its eleventh year in Connecticut. With Michael W. Klemens, PhD and Hank Gruner, Marjorie Shansky co-authored “From Planning to Action, Biodiversity Conservation in Connecticut.”