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Reed, Whitehouse Announce $1.35 Million for RI Coastal Management & Protection

Posted on June 8, 2015

With families getting set to enjoy time along Rhode Island’s 400 miles of coastline this summer, U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse today announced over $1.35 million in federal funding through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Coastal Zone Management Program to provide continued assistance to preserve the state’s natural coastline. The Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) will receive $1,352,000 to help administer Rhode Island’s Coastal Management Program.

The National Coastal Zone Management Program is a voluntary federal-state partnership that protects, restores, and responsibly develops our nation’s coastal communities and resources. NOAAs investment of $1,352,000 will be matched by $1,263,880 in state funds. Together, the money will support jobs and provide continued assistance in balancing economic development, coastal uses, and natural resource protection.

“Our coastline is one of Rhode Island’s most important natural assets and this federal funding will support CRMC’s efforts to enhance and protect our coastal habitats. I commend CRMC and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management for their proactive efforts to integrate climate change adaptation strategies into their coastal management plans. These federal funds will bolster the state’s efforts to improve coastal water quality and address issues such as flooding, storm surges, and shoreline erosion,” said Reed, a member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS), and Related Agencies, which oversees NOAA funding.

“Rhode Island’s beautiful coastline attracts visitors to our beaches and coastal communities, and business to our ports. It’s also a big part of why Rhode Island is such a good place to call home,” said Whitehouse, a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee who has long championed programs to promote coastal resilience. “I’m glad this funding will help the CRMC protect our coastline and build resiliency – efforts that are essential to our economy and way of life in Rhode Island.”

The CRMC works to preserve, protect, develop, and where possible restore, coastal areas of the state. The funding announced today will assist CRMC’s work to address many important coastal issues in Rhode Island including: coastal hazards, climate change, and ocean management. The award is expected to support CRMC’s engagement with local and state staff to help plan for sea level rise and storm surge and improve resilience to coastal hazards. The funding will also support ongoing coastal permitting, planning, policy, public outreach, habitat restoration, and harbor management. Other uses for the award include support for a major review of the Rhode Island Shoreline Change Special Area Management Plan (Beach SAMP) to comprehensively manage the state’s ocean uses and resources.

The Beach SAMP is an ongoing project aimed at identifying areas at high risk to coastal erosion, storm surge, and sea level rise along Rhode Island’s coast. It also seeks to analyze the economic costs associated with shoreline changes and identify specific infrastructure and facilities that may be at risk for future flooding. Data collected through the Beach SAMP will be used to develop practical policies that Rhode Island communities can use to increase coastal resilience and minimize future damage from coastal hazards. This includes nature-based resiliency projects like restoring wetlands, coastal dunes, and beaches that can also protect coastal homeowners and businesses.

Reed and Whitehouse have long championed efforts to protect and preserve the Ocean State’s natural coastline. In April, the Congressional delegation announced$1.6 million in NOAA funding for the Rhode Island Sea Grant Program, which will use federal funds to continue work on the state’s Shellfish Management Plan in cooperation with DEM and the CRMC. The funds will also support the development of the Beach SAMP. Last year, with Senator Reed serving as Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior & Environment, the state received an additional $7.55 million in funding from the U.S. Department of the Interior for coastline restoration projects related to Hurricane Sandy, as well as forward-looking projects to help prepare the state for future storms and the impacts of climate change.

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