Graduation Date

Fall 2019

Document Type



Master of Science degree with a major in Environmental Systems, option Energy, Technology, and Policy

Committee Chair Name

Dr. Laurie Richmond

Committee Chair Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Second Committee Member Name

Dr. Yvonne Everett

Second Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Third Committee Member Name

Dr. Kevin Fingerman

Third Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Subject Categories

Environmental Systems


The coastal community of King Salmon, California could be at the highest risk of relative sea-level rise on the entire U.S. West Coast. In 2019, the community already experiences severe flooding at least annually and may be regularly inundated as early as 2050. Until this study, there had been no documented effort to reach out to the community to show them future sea-level rise projections, understand the context of life in King Salmon, and listen to their reactions and perceptions. This research utilized a mixed methods grounded theory approach integrating semi-structured interviews with King Salmon stakeholders, qualitative data analysis, public workshop observation, GIS analysis, and archival research to understand the community’s perceptions of and vulnerability to flooding and sea-level rise, explore their local ecological knowledge, determine their sense of place, and identify their preferred adaptation strategies.

The data demonstrate that King Salmon is a community that has coexisted with flooding for a long time. Many residents reported a perceived increase in flooding over time. Most respondents feel emotionally connected to King Salmon as a place, demonstrating a sense of place. Most community members acknowledged future sea-level rise, but expressed hope that they could stay in their homes until they died and before more severe future flooding. A majority of the respondents belonged to an aging population group, which may explain this viewpoint. Because most community members indicated a preference to stay and adapt, King Salmon may benefit from looking to other adapting communities worldwide for inspiration. Rolling easements are a potential adaptation strategy that considers the generational component. No matter the adaptation strategy selected, the community must be centered in the discussion. The community of King Salmon faces many challenges, but also presents an opportunity to be a model community for sea-level rise adaptation.

Citation Style



Thesis/Project Location