MILL VALLEY (CBS SF) — Visitors to the Sausalito-Mill Valley multi-use pathway this spring will have a unique opportunity to have an “OWL’s eye view” of what the projected rising seawater this century will look like along San Pablo Bay’s southern Marin County shoreline.
Two new and sophisticated devices called an OWL are built to resemble the coin-operated binoculars at vista points and national parks, but, in addition to the current view, their software will depict the high-water-level scenario projected to occur from global warming this century.
The San Pablo Bay’s waterline is projected to rise more than three feet in the coming decades, causing long-term impacts on Marin’s coastal communities.
County officials hope the OWLs convey the impact of the rising water and encourage people to become engaged in the rising sea level scenario even though the changes will be gradual.
The OWL software, developed by San Rafael’s Autodesk, will capture a viewer’s response to the rising sea level projection and provide a website to learn more about climate change and flood risk.
The two viewers that resemble an owl’s face were developed by OWLized of San Francisco. They will be installed for 12 weeks as a pilot project along the Sausalito-Mill Valley pathway.
One of the OWL viewers will be accessible to children and the disabled.
“We’re hoping that the thousands of students, walkers and cyclists who use the path will take the time to interact with this incredible device and will become community partners as we start the essential conversations about how we plan for sea level rise,” Supervisor Kate Sears said.
“I’m curious to see how the community interacts with it, especially the kids,” Sears said. “I hope the OWLs will intrigue people and inspire action,” she said.
The OWL project was made possible by a $150,000 grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency that is responsible for mapping flood plains and also encourages community engagement.
The nonprofit Climate Access and Dr. Susanne Moser of Stanford University also are involved in the partnership that resulted in the FEMA grant and OWL project.
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