IBTS Intern Honored for Outstanding Graduate Thesis Research on Coastal Conservation

By June 6, 2019

June 6, 2019 — Ashburn, VA

IBTS’ Perry Fennell receives one of two awards offered by the University of South Carolina Graduate School for outstanding research.

IBTS Resilience Graduate Intern Perry Fennell recently earned his Master’s of Earth & Environmental Resource Management from the University of South Carolina and was lauded for his thesis on coastal conservation. Fennell received one of only two thesis awards given by the graduate school for excellent research, and was the only recipient from within the School of the Earth, Ocean and Environment (SEOE).

Fennell’s research and findings align closely with IBTS’ resilience efforts and current projects, providing IBTS and our clients with valuable insight into successful mechanisms and best practices for enhancing coastal conservation at the local level.

The theses are evaluated on the basis of originality, clarity of style, presentation, scholarship, research methodology, and contributions to the field or discipline. To be considered for the award, theses must be nominated by professors from within the school and then voted on after a rigorous review process.

Fennell’s thesis, An Assessment of Legal Frameworks for Sea Turtle Conservation in the Southeastern United States, examines coastal conservation efforts within the Southeastern United States. His research focused on the current legal frameworks and regulatory systems at the county and municipal level, and investigated how community interest in coastal conservation effects the strictness of implemented conservation codes and zoning ordinances.

Fennell’s research included a thorough analysis of federal, state, and local government legislation and conservation efforts. He also conducted a survey of elected officials and other relevant stakeholders in Southeastern coastal communities, which provided insight into the perceived successes and shortcomings of various coastal conservation codes and ordinances implemented.

Survey respondents indicated common coastal conservation challenges and issues, such as erosion, rampant development, and sea level rise, and also shared their successes in addressing these challenges with codes and zoning ordinances, and other methods such as nature-based infrastructure.

Among Fennell’s other findings, his research also indicates that jurisdictions that take a stronger stance on coastal conservation and go beyond the minimum requirements in their comprehensive plan for coastal zones (required by the Coastal Zone Management Act), tend to have more success in their conservation efforts.

IBTS resilience experts and planners help communities across the nation with resilience planning and conservation efforts in various capacities. For example, in Howard Beach, NY, IBTS collaborated with the American Planning Association to host a community planning workshop to help the community identify flooding solutions and green infrastructure opportunities to increase neighborhood resilience.

“I’m excited to work with IBTS to share the findings from my thesis so that coastal communities across the nation can benefit from real-world lessons learned and success stories,” Fennell says. “Coastal conservation efforts like natural infrastructure can be a win-win for the environment, local flora and fauna, property owners, and for strengthening the overall resilience of the community.”


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About IBTS:

IBTS is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization committed to helping communities through quality services that reduce risk, enhance public safety, and improve quality of life.  IBTS is headquartered in Ashburn, Virginia with branch offices across the country.  IBTS’s work is guided by a Board of Directors made up of government officials appointed by five of the most highly respected, grassroots, state and local governmental associations, including the Council of State Governments (CSG), International City/County Management Association (ICMA), National Association of Counties (NACo), National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center), and National League of Cities (NLC).