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York County Mobilizes $1.54M Dredge from Ellicott Dredges to Restore Storm-Ravaged Maine Coastlines

York County Mobilizes $1.54M Dredge to Restore Storm-Ravaged Maine Coastlines

Posted on February 28, 2024

Following two devastating storms in January that caused an estimated $20 million in damage to public infrastructure, York County in Maine is considering deploying its newly acquired dredge to assist in coastal restoration efforts. The initiative, fueled by a $1.54 million investment from American Rescue Plan Act funds, aims to address the urgent need for sand and dune nourishment along the southern Maine coast. County Manager Greg Zinser has been exploring operational strategies, including consulting with experienced firms and navigating the complex permitting process with state and federal agencies.

Strategic Planning and Operational Challenges

York County’s acquisition of the dredge was initially intended to support the Southern Maine Dredge Authority. However, unforeseen federal disposition rules have led to the county retaining ownership. In light of this, Zinser and the county commissioners are considering various operational models. These include evaluating the feasibility of purchasing versus renting equipment or contracting with external dredge crews. The decision-making process is being guided by consultations with municipal managers and potential collaboration with a consulting firm experienced in dredging operations.

Addressing Coastal Erosion and Infrastructure Damage

The decision to deploy the dredge comes in the wake of significant coastal erosion and damage to public infrastructure resulting from back-to-back storms in January. The storms exacerbated the already pressing need for coastal protection and rehabilitation in the area. By nourishing beaches with sand and reinforcing dunes, the county aims to mitigate the impact of future storms and ensure the safety and stability of its coastal communities. Discussions with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are ongoing to secure the necessary permits for the dredging operations.

Collaboration and Community Engagement

As the county moves forward with its plans, effective communication and collaboration with affected municipalities will be crucial. The county has initiated discussions with local town officials to gauge interest and determine the scope of the required dredging work. The potential partnership between the county and these municipalities would involve contracting with the county for the dredging services, thereby ensuring a coordinated approach to coastal restoration. This collaborative effort underscores the community’s resilience and collective commitment to protecting Maine’s vulnerable coastal areas from further degradation.

The initiative to utilize the dredge for coastal restoration in York County reflects a proactive and strategic response to the challenges posed by coastal erosion and storm damage. By mobilizing resources and fostering collaboration among local stakeholders, the county is taking important steps towards safeguarding its coastal communities and preserving the natural beauty of Maine’s shores for future generations.


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