Coastal Lakeshore Economy and Resiliency (CLEAR) Initiative


Resilience is…the capacity for a community and its ecosystem to withstand extreme events and other forces or risks; quickly recover the interconnected social, economic and ecological systems’ structure and function in the aftermath of a disaster; and develop ongoing adaptability to rapidly changing environmental conditions and forces. (NYS CMP, 2016)  

New York State is committed to addressing the needs of communities along Lake Ontario, the lower Niagara River, and the upper St. Lawrence River in ways that foster sustainable economic development in upstate New York, restore and maintain healthy Great Lakes and coastal ecosystems, and improve community resilience in the face of increased flooding and erosion intensity and frequency.   

The Coastal Lakeshore Economy and Resiliency (CLEAR) Initiative supports local communities dealing with persistent high-water levels along Lake Ontario, the lower Niagara River and the upper St. Lawrence River with the development of comprehensive resiliency strategies and plans to institute critical long-term protective measures and strengthen existing investments. CLEAR Plans will reflect the diverse perspectives, needs, interests, and watersheds within each region, and participation will reflect the socio-economic and geographic diversity of the regions, including vulnerable and under-served populations. Planning firms along with State experts will supplement local capacity and engage communities in scenario planning to help conceptualize the potential impacts from future changes and identify opportunities to enhance connections and access to the water while increasing resiliency to potential stressors. Communities will receive assistance from consulting firms and State experts to plan for a variety of scenarios and develop potential solutions that will enhance resiliency and connections to the water. The CLEAR Plans will include regional strategies and recommend local actions such as updated zoning, installation of green infrastructure, more sustainable water-dependent businesses, and the development of actions and projects that will increase the resiliency of lakeshore communities and businesses.   


Goals of the CLEAR Initiative include: 

  • Facilitate vibrant communities that can thrive in changing and variable lake levels and conditions.    
  • Embrace the connectivity of the coastal environment through innovative designs for rebuilding and adaptive uses.   
  • Instill a deeper understanding and appreciation for the important role shoreline property owners play in their communities’ resilience.   
  • Identify coastal development patterns that provide continued opportunities for existing and new recreation and employment.   
  • Empower local governments, organizations, and leaders to protect their communities and create new, more resilient paths

Engagement Process

CLEAR will engage the full array of community stakeholders to develop comprehensive and long-term coastal resiliency plans and strategies. The process will be spearheaded by the Department of State and is anticipated to take 6-8 months.  The State has secured the services of professional planning firms to lead a process that builds from ongoing conversations on resiliency, considers the long-term vision for the communities to avoid repeated losses, and results in a coastal resiliency plan. The planning teams will host community workshops and employ innovative public outreach strategies to educate community members about flood and erosion risk using guidance available from State, federal and non-governmental partners. The strategies developed through CLEAR will encourage consideration of green infrastructure projects and regulatory changes to promote more resilient land use decisions (zoning, building codes, etc.) to address residual risk.


Communities participating in CLEAR will receive State assistance to:  

  • Increase local capacity for applying resilience concepts to meet their specific needs.   
  • Integrate resiliency strategies and best practices into existing local plans, policies and practices.  
  • Generate a list of priority resilience strategies screened for resilience capacity.   
  • Take initial steps to implement local and regional resilience strategies and initiatives identified through CLEAR.     

Planning Regions

CLEAR Planning Regions map

More Information

Please revisit this website for future updates on the progress of the CLEAR Initiative. Questions can be addressed to [email protected].