Managed or planned retreat is a climate change adaptation strategy that allows the shoreline to advance inward unimpeded, necessitating the removal of buildings and other built infrastructure. To facilitate managed retreat efforts, federal, state, and local government programs acquire lands and properties, including those that have been damaged by climate events and natural disasters or that may be prone to future damage due to conditions such as sea-level rise, storms, and storm-related flooding. In New Jersey, the state Blue Acres program seeks to make communities more resilient through the state-led acquisition of flood-prone properties.
With support from the State Policy Lab, the New Jersey Climate Change Resource Center Climate Corps conducted a three-month research effort to better understand programs, policies, and practices associated with managed retreat acquisition programs nationwide. The research team started with a thorough review of the literature, ranging from academic journals, news articles, conference presentations, books, and podcasts. Second, the team reviewed case studies of municipal, county, state, and special district programs. Finally, the researchers conducted a series of interviews with program practitioners, community group leaders, and academics. The focus of this research effort was to better understand certain key aspects of managed retreat acquisition programs.