The Commission is the owner and manager of millions of acres of sovereign lands and resources that are held in trust subject to the common law Public Trust Doctrine. If unaddressed, sea-level rise can have catastrophic consequences for these sovereign lands and resources. The Commission is working hard to facilitate sea-level rise preparedness, with an emphasis on protecting California's public trust lands and the public's right to access and enjoy these lands. The Commission partners with the Legislature and other federal, state, and local agencies to stay at the forefront of efforts to mitigate the impacts of sea-level rise on the lands and natural resources entrusted to its care.
A seven-member team of experts has provided the State with a report on the best-available sea-level rise science, including recent scientific advances on the role of polar ice loss.
What's to come
Climate models indicate that sea-level could rise by nearly 66 inches (167 cm) by the end of this century, exacerbating the effects of existing natural hazards, including storms and high tides. California's coastline will change as sea-levels rise, which will have many consequences for sovereign public trust lands, resources, and assets, and may lead to significant environmental, social, and economic impacts.
Vast state-owned lands and resources under the Commission's jurisdiction will be affected by rising sea-levels. While some of these lands remain in a natural state, significant portions have been developed pursuant to leases issued by the Commission or through legislative grants to local jurisdictions. Future sea-level rise is expected to compound the effects of natural hazards on existing critical coastal and bay infrastructure, and may affect the boundaries between sovereign public trust lands and privately owned uplands, which may reduce or eliminate public access along the coast.
The Commission is a land and resource trust manager and thus has significant influence over development and uses of public trust lands that will be affected by sea-level rise. As discussed under Interagency Coordination, Commission staff is collaborating with federal, state, and local agencies to plan for and mitigate the impacts of sea-level rise on the lands and natural resources under its jurisdiction. Through continued collaboration; commitment to science-based, comprehensive, and transparent policy development; and focused education efforts, the Commission and its staff are dedicated to protecting and enhancing the public’s interests in the lands, resources, and assets under its jurisdiction as sea-level rises.