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LightHawk Supports Aerial Glimpse of Sea Level Rise on Oregon Coast

Once again after a stint of gloomy weather on the Oregon coast, the skies opened up on February 9th for a radical coastal flight to document the King Tides from the skies! Surfrider Newport Chapter's Mike Harrington teamed up with LightHawk's volunteer pilot Roy Lewallen to fly along the central coast to document some of the highest tides of the year ("king tides"). LightHawk is a nonprofit that accelerates conservation success through the powerful perspective of flight and in this case, they are helping our local volunteers get a handle on what the climate impacts to our coastlines might look like to help us better plan for the future.

King Tides provide a glimpse into what future sea level rise (SLR) might look like and improve our understanding of future coastal impacts. By better understanding future SLR, local municipalities can better plan to protect critical public infrastructure (roads, bridges, water and sewer systems, etc.) that may be in harm’s way and require adaptation planning. Climate change adaptation is an inevitable part of our future.

Salishan Spit is operating on thin ground for sea level rise. Photo: Mike Harrington / LightHawk

"You can see things so much better from the air," says Mike Harrington of the valuable perspective the flight brought to his understanding of his community and coastline. "I was the lucky one who got to go up with a volunteer pilot and photograph low lying neighborhoods and coastal bluffs. The views from the air show the threats dramatically and with projected sea level rise this will only get worse."

The Oregon flight was part of a national partnership between Surfrider Foundation and LightHawk. “We took the opportunity to view King Tides from the air in order to better understand future impacts of sea level rise and to motivate local municipalities to proactively protect our shorelines and coastal communities. It is imperative that local communities work together to preemptively turn the tide now to avoid the loss of beaches, homes, communities, public access, recreation and ecosystems. Once these unique and special areas are gone, they’re gone for good.” Stefanie Sekich-Quinn, Surfrider Foundation Coastal Preservation Manager.

Below are some additional highlights from the flight but be sure and check out our Flickr album for all of the photos.

Cutler City - Photo: Mike Harrington Surfrider / LightHawk

D River - Photo: Mike Harrington Surfrider / LightHawk

Neskowin armored to "hold the line". What looks like a lake to the east is the golf seasonally - Photo: Mike Harrington / LightHawk

Inn at Spanish Head, Lincoln City - Photo: Mike Harrington / LightHawk

The brown frown: aka Georgia Pacific Toledo's Pulp Mill Outfall - Photo: Mike Harrington / LightHawk