Maryland is offering grants to help local communities prepare for responding and adapting to the anticipated impacts of climate change. Launched in April 2009, Maryland’s CoastSmart Communities Initiative (CCI) has provided over a half-million dollars to help local communities brace for the effects of accelerated sea level rise, shoreline erosion, increased storm frequency and intensity, and changes in rainfall and related flooding.
CCI provides financial and technical assistance to local governments to promote the incorporation of natural resource and/or coastal management practices into local planning and permitting activities. Through the planning process, program partners and communities will identify best management practices, education opportunities of both municipal officials and the public, potential code and ordinance changes, and any relevant restoration and protection opportunities.
In partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the State will provide grants from $10,000 to $75,000 to coastal communities to support the planning and preparation needed to adapt to climate related impacts in the short and long term. In addition to competitive grants, the State will offer on-the-ground expertise, planning guidance, training and tools to support local planning efforts. Applications are being accepted through March 24.
“Land planning decisions in coastal areas along the Chesapeake Bay shoreline are made primarily by local municipalities. Without support from the Chesapeake and Coastal Program, Queenstown and many other small municipalities would not have the necessary tools to plan for potential storm events, shoreline changes, and protecting our water resources,” said Kathy Boomer, the project manager for Queenstown’s CCI project and member of the Queenstown Planning Commission.
Due to its geography and geology, the Chesapeake Bay region is ranked the third most vulnerable to sea level rise, behind Louisiana and Southern Florida. Maryland’s low-lying coastal communities, public infrastructure and vital habitats are particularly at risk to the impacts to climate change, especially with respect to accelerated sea level rise, shoreline erosion and increased storm frequency and intensity. With the adoption of the Climate Action Plan in 2008, the State committed to provide sea level rise planning guidance to advise adaptation and response planning at the local level.
The Maryland Commission on Climate Chance recently released its Phase II Strategy for Reducing Maryland’s Vulnerability to Climate Change. For more information about the Commission’s efforts, visit http://www.green.maryland.gov/climate.html.
Recent CoastSmart Communities projects have included: the development of a strategic plan targeting sea level rise and climate change in Anne Arundel County; a sea level rise adaptation and response plan for the City of Annapolis that includes a vulnerability and impact assessment as well as outlines policy response options; improvements to Caroline County’s floodplain and stormwater management programs; an integrated community and watershed design project and transportation element for the town of Queenstown; and improvements to stormwater and coastal erosion management in several small Talbot County villages.
To learn more about this opportunity as well as the services offered by the State to help communities reduce their vulnerability to the impacts of climate change, please visit the CoastSmart Communities Online Resource Center at http://dnr.maryland.gov/CoastSmart, or e-mail the Chesapeake & Coastal Program staff at CoastSmart@dnr.state.md.us.