Md. to get $3.9M in NFWF, NOAA funding for coastal resiliency projects


MARYLAND – Maryland will see significant funding for three coastal resiliency projects. The $136 million comes from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

“History in the making”

The grants range from $100,000 to $10 million. In total, the funding will allow for 88 natural infrastructure projects across 29 U.S. states and territories. $94 million in matching contributions bring the grant total to $230 million. It’s the largest amount of funding ever issued through the National Coastal Resiliency Fund.

“It’s truly history in the making, and a tangible reflection of the Administration’s commitment to addressing the climate crisis through solutions such as nature can provide,” said NOAA Administration Dr. Rick Spinrad. “While we must work diligently to limit our emissions, and slow the pace of climate change, we must also protect ourselves from the climate impacts that we cannot avoid. Restoring and protecting ecosystems is a key part of building climate resiliency, and ensuring that ours is a climate ready nation.”

Funding For Maryland

In Maryland, three projects stand to benefit from the funding. $2,999,500 was awarded for advancing oyster restoration with shellfish growers. Matching funds of $1,479,300 brought the total up to $4,478,800. The project will deploy 2.5 million adult, diploid oysters grown by farmers. The goal is to improve water quality, rebuild marine habitat, advance shoreline protection, and provide economic benefits to coastal communities.

Meanwhile, $416,800 was awarded for building capacity for tidal marsh and sand island restoration on the Eastern Shore. A total of $471,800 was reached with matching funds of $55,000. Restoration and resilience plans for tidal marsh habitats across three Lower Eastern Shore counties will be created. When the projects are completed, thousand of acres of tidal marsh, as well as birds, are expected to be protected.
Finally, grant funding will help design a resilience action plan for Maryland’s coastal communities. The $513,500 grant, plus $106,400 in matching funds, brought the total to $619,900. The action plan will cover eight coastal Maryland communities. It will identify and prioritize nature-based solutions to bolster coastal resiliency. The plan will also connect communities to partners who can expand capacity or support implementation.

Increasing Needs

NFWF Chief Conservation Officer Dr. Holly Bamford says the grants won’t just help communities prepare themselves for climate change.

“These grants take into consideration, not only the coastal threat such as sea level rise, intense storms, and flooding,” said Dr. Bamford. “But, it also looks at how to use nature to build that barrier up to protect the infrastructure, create jobs, create habitat, wildlife, and open space for people to enjoy the coastal outdoors.”

Dr. Bamford calls the impacts of the climate crisis found along American coastlines “significant”. For that reason, she says NFWF and NOAA fielded over 450 proposals, totaling $770 million.  “The need is there. This program, and other programs, are helping to address that need head on,” said Dr. Bamford.

For underserved and marginalized communities, Dr. Bamford says the need is even greater.

“There are a lot of underserved communities that just might not be able to put a big $10 million infrastructure project in place. This program allows a pipeline approach. It allows the community to come in, where they are,” said Dr. Bamford. “They might be in a planning phase and need help putting planning together. Permitting is very difficult to get through, so they may need help with permitting. Finally, it’s the implementation. This program allows for that growth.”

Looking Ahead

Dr. Bamford says making sure community engagement remains strong throughout the process, will ensure success, they say.

“When you’re doing any kind of resilience-related project within the community, the community has to be an advocate for that. That’s going to make that project not only create that resilience, create that barrier, but it’s also going to be sustained by the community that’s benefiting from it,” said Dr. Bamford. “You have to engage the community. That really drives their interest. Once they see the value of a project protecting the community, but also creating a sense of economy, they’re going to be really supportive as it goes forward.”

With that in mind, Dr. Spinrad says this is only the beginning of protecting and restoring coastlines in the United States.

“We’re focusing on a long-term plan to build climate ready coasts by protecting the future of our coastal communities, and investing in natural infrastructure projects that build coastal resilience, create jobs, store carbon, and move marine debris, and restore habitat,” said Dr. Spinrad. “We are embarking on a new era of conservation; conservation that protects, and also creates new opportunities for communities on the front lines of climate change.”

Categories: Environment, Local News, Maryland, Money