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Erin Seekamp PhD



Biltmore Hall (Robertson Wing) 4008H


I am a social scientist with expertise in collaborations and partnerships for conservation, community engagement, and capacity building for climate resilience. My work centers around integrating stakeholder values and perspectives in adaptation planning and decision making using science co-production and deliberative science approaches. In 2019, I served as a Research Fellow at the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM), where I expanded my work on climate adaptation planning of cultural resources to World Heritage Sites.

My work is interdisciplinary and I collaborate frequently with individuals skilled in quantifying and modeling climate change impacts and scenario projections, including the integration of adaptation strategies into optimization models.


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Date: 06/01/21 - 9/30/24
Amount: $98,585.00
Funding Agencies: US Dept. of Interior (DOI)

The primary goal of this project is a planning and decision support tool that will help the NPS and partners prioritize archeological sites for climate adaptation treatments. An equal necessary goal is to involve Tribal and community engagement in how sites are prioritized and how data are handled. Project goal following successful pilot phase is ultimately build-out of a service-wide framework, and use of the results to inform baseline documentation and implement future management decisions.

Date: 07/01/17 - 6/30/24
Amount: $2,825,850.00
Funding Agencies: NC Dept. of Natural & Cultural Resources formerly NC Dept of Env. & Natural Resources (DENR)

The Recreation Resources Service (RRS) is established for the specific purpose of providing assistance to public and private segments of the leisure service industry within North Carolina. Clientele of the program include: municipal and county park and recreation departments, nonprofit agencies, private recreation agencies, recreation consumer groups, and recreation and park board and commission members. RRS provides timely,cutting edge technical assistance to improve community park and recreation opportunities, sponsors a variety of continuing education opportunities addressing current issues facing park and recreation professionals, conducts applied research studies, and assist communities with state and federal park and recreation grants.

Date: 12/31/21 - 12/31/22
Amount: $56,046.00
Funding Agencies: US Dept. of Interior (DOI)

Achieving the Southeast Conservation Adaptation Strategy (SECAS) goal of a 10% improvement in health, function, and connectivity in southeastern ecosystems by 2060 requires regional conservation efforts. Regional science based conservation partnerships are critical for AFWA goals (e.g., President’s task force report), national responses to SWAP revisions (Mawdsley et al., 2020), tackling the 30x30 initiative (Stein et al., 2021), and responding to climate change (Lackstrom et al., 2018). We propose addressing the primary gap in knowledge around viability of regional responses to wildlife conservation initiatives by surveying state agency leadership (at the division chief level) and field biologists from across the SEAFWA states. We will address several questions. First, we will measure which elements of wildlife conservation respondents are willing to engage in at a regional level and how much they are willing to push for a regional response to each element (Objective 1). The ten elements to be assessed include the eight required elements of the 2025 SWAPs as well as the 30x30 initiative and climate change adaptation. The SWAP elements, however, may be collapsed into a smaller set based on feedback from the project advisory board (e.g., planning for adaptive management and coordinating among stakeholders could be merged). Second, we will ask respondents what assistance is most valuable for developing regional responses (Objective 2). Third, we will ask participants to list perceived costs (e.g., interfering with long term data collection for indices) and benefits (e.g., leveraging resources across state borders) associated with regional planning for each element (Objective 3).

Date: 11/04/21 - 10/31/22
Amount: $9,973.00
Funding Agencies: NCSU Sea Grant Program

On September 6th, 2019 Hurricane Dorian made landfall on North Carolina’s Outer Banks, causing historic flooding and widespread damage across tourism-dependent barrier island communities. Two communities, Ocracoke and Hatteras islands, were among the hardest hit. As Hurricane Dorian recovery efforts began, the COVID-19 pandemic substantially altered recovery within the tourism sector. Fragile, outdated infrastructure and limited access policies disrupted supply chains and workforce availability, significantly lengthening recovery efforts well into the 2020 hurricane season. Once access was restored, the tourism industry in Hatteras and Ocracoke boomed with visitors seeking a “safe” escape from the pandemic, even while business owners were struggling to rebuild and housing shortages continued. The compounding crises of Hurricane Dorian and the COVID-19 pandemic have affected the decisions within the tourism industry in Hatteras and Ocracoke. Through an NSF-funded project “RAPID: Disaster recovery decision making in remote tourism dependent communities” the research team uncovered pathways of near-term decision making and integrating these decisions within a broader network of actors establishing a baseline for understanding disaster recovery in remote tourism-dependent communities. Through this research the need for a centralized location to integrate information sources and recovery resources, facilitate sharing of capacity strengths and weaknesses, and foster learning and partnerships among tourism-dependent coastal communities. This proposed project seeks to define inter-community, region-specific components (e.g., resources, information pathways, community interactions, and knowledge brokers) needed to create a virtual community-based disaster preparedness hub. The objectives of this project are designed to build upon the data from the NSF-funded project, by identifying existing community-based planning resources, hosting community focus groups to prioritize resources and actions the community members are willing to take, analyze the feedback from the focus groups, and develop a blueprint for a virtual community-based disaster preparedness hub. This process will identify the infrastructure and management foundations needed to establish and sustain the hub as well as how tourism-dependent community stakeholders would contribute to and utilize a virtual community-based disaster preparedness hub could advance knowledge and practice of resilience strategy development and planning efforts in coastal community contexts.

Date: 08/01/17 - 7/31/22
Amount: $4,500,000.00
Funding Agencies: US Dept. of Interior (DOI)

The guiding strategy of the Southeast Climate Science Center (SE CSC) is to provide staffing and institutional support for core SE CSC mission areas. The SE CSC's mission involves supporting researchers and managers to co-produce science connected to management decisions (actionable science), coordinating logistics and communications to bring partners and the community together (within NCSU, with USGS researchers, and across the broader community) to discuss global change impacts to the DOI mission, and training the next generation (graduate students) and current managers on how to use and develop global change science.

Date: 04/01/18 - 6/30/22
Amount: $251,376.00
Funding Agencies: Montana Conservation Corps

Working in a partnership model, conservation corps provide land management agencies with resources that support youth development and community engagement [Engagement], a dependable workforce that balances high quality work with reduced agency costs [Efficiencies], and ensure the enhanced ability of public land agencies to sustainably provide for conservation and visitor recreation [Enhancement]. Relevant to the evaluation, the primary long-term impact associated with these program activities ensures resource institutions, managers, and industries have the long-term capacity to sustainably manage natural resource assets. Conservation corps work with public land agency partners at multiple levels. However, most of this work occurs on federal and state lands. Two important partners for conservation corps are the USFS at the federal level and respective State Parks at the state level. This evaluation will focus on the ability of participating corps to enhance the capacity of these two organizations. The overall aim of the current evaluation is to examine the outcomes of corps program on partners. The primary outcome-related goal is to determine, through a matched, quasi-experimental design, whether there is evidence that host partners demonstrate higher levels of engagement, efficiency, and environmental stewardship than similar, non-hosting affiliates. The primary research questions of this evaluation are: Using partner interviews and surveys, this evaluation will address the following research questions: Does hosting a conservation corps program increase public land agency partners’ capacity to:Engage youth and communities? Manage organizational resources more efficiently? More effectively manage public lands for conservation and visitor recreation?

Date: 09/12/17 - 6/30/22
Amount: $377,894.00
Funding Agencies: US Dept. of Interior (DOI)

This research project is a collaborative study with the National Park Service, including staff of the South Atlantic Landscape Conservation Cooperative (SALCC), to communicate and expand decision guidance for budget optimization and adaptation planning. The study will synthesize existing data sources from two separate projects at Cape Lookout National Seashore and determine the transferability of a decision support tool to a minimum of one other National Park Service site with vulnerable coastal cultural resources.

Date: 02/15/20 - 1/31/22
Amount: $58,934.00
Funding Agencies: National Science Foundation (NSF)

In September 2019, Hurricane Dorian severely impacted remote, tourism-dependent communities in the Outer Banks region of North Carolina. The communities of Ocracoke and Hatteras sustained the most infrastructure damage (e.g., businesses, homes, schools, power, potable water, transportation, and telecommunications). As recovery efforts begin, tourism business owners have to determine whether or not to reinvest, while individuals employed within the tourism industry have to determine whether or not they will remain. These decision processes include utilizing their hurricane experience (both past and present) and a variety of information sources within their local networks to inform perceptions of access to an available workforce or workforce housing, the availability of recovery resources, and the likelihood of future visitors, as well as perceptions of recovery risks. In turn, these perceptions influence recovery intentions and actual recovery decisions. This study specifically explores this decision making process in near-term, post-disaster contexts. The project has three objectives to: (1) identify the information networks accessed by individuals’ within the tourism industry to inform recovery decisions; (2) evaluate the extent to which recovery information activated through those networks is processed; and (3) document decision making pathways that influence risk perceptions and intended recovery decisions.

Date: 04/30/19 - 6/30/21
Amount: $49,163.00
Funding Agencies: US Dept. of Interior (DOI)

Barrier islands are subject to natural and anthropogenic changes, such as hurricanes, sea level rise and dredging. These changes can influence the persistence of natural and cultural resources. For example, a single storm event can drastically alter barrier islands, damaging or destroying cultural resources and impacting (either negatively or positively) habitat. Moreover, dredging can change the natural rates of lateral sand transport and placement of dredge materials can also influence natural rates of lateral sand transport, both of which can have positive (sand accretion) or negative (sand erosion). These changes to barrier islands can also influence the ability of the islands’ dunes to serve as a first-line of defense for the mainland during storm-events. A better understanding of sediment budgets related to coastal vulnerability (storm events and dredging) can enhance the protection of both natural and cultural resources and guide future nourishment and placement of dredge materials. This work will support the conservation stewardship mission of the National Park Service by providing science to inform management of its natural and cultural resources at Gulf Islands National Seashore. Specifically, this project will contribute to ongoing research at Gulf Islands National Seashore related to cultural resource adaptation planning, as well as identify future research and information needs to better conserve the cultural and natural resources on the barrier islands. The project will include (a) updating a planning exercise framework designed to assist the National Park Service optimize cultural resource adaptation planning given a range of budget constraints and (b) conducting a sediment budget needs assessment workshop with National Park Service personnel and other regional stakeholders, such as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Intended outcomes from the project include enhancing efficiency in adaptation planning of vulnerable coastal resources and identifying research priorities that will help predict changes of barrier islands and reducing the negative impacts associated improperly placed dredge materials.

Date: 07/01/17 - 8/15/18
Amount: $8,920.00
Funding Agencies: National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

Focus groups will be conducted based on the Rural Coastal Community Resilience Framework (Figure 1) in at least three minority communities on the Albemarle Pamlico Peninsula. The framework is conceptualized as a series of risk and adaptive capacity indicators that are combined to determine the relative vulnerability or resilience of a community or region. The focus groups will begin with a presentation contextualizing sea level rise, flooding, and saltwater intrusion impacts. Then participants will engage in discussions on each pair of indicators before voting (nominal group process) on where they believe their community to lie on that particular spectrum. Focus groups will be audio recorded and transcribed for interpretation using Nvivo software. A pre- and post-survey questionnaire will also be administered to gather quantitative data on risk perceptions to be processed with SPSS version 24. Additionally, semi-structured interviews will be used to engage individual community members to document local histories on the APP, elaborate on individual experiences with sea level rise, flooding, saltwater intrusion impacts, and resilience needs. Interviews will be audio recorded and transcribed for thematic analysis using N*Vivo software for data organization.

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