Governor O'Malley Announces State's First Coast-Smart Communities Initiative Projects

Annapolis, MD (September 22, 2009) – Governor Martin O'Malley today announced the first four projects that will kick-off Maryland’s new Coast-Smart Communities Initiative. The initiative provides financial and technical assistance to coastal communities to address vulnerability to the impacts of sea level rise and climate change.

“With more than 4,000 miles of coastline, Maryland is one of the most vulnerable States in the nation to the impacts of sea level rise,” said Governor O’Malley. “Even as we work to aggressively address the drivers of climate change – by reducing greenhouse gas emissions -- we must also ensure our coastal communities are ready, adaptive and resilient, now.”

Launched by Governor O’Malley in April 2009, the Coast-Smart Communities Initiative was created in response to the Maryland Commission on Climate Change Action Plan, which outlined a comprehensive strategy to protect Maryland’s people and property from rising sea levels and changing weather patterns. Jumpstarted with the help of a competitive grant program for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) funds administered by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the funding provides resources at the local level to help tackle climate change-related risks.

“By providing local decision-makers with the resources, planning guidance, training and tools they need to become Coast-Smart, we can reduce the vulnerability of our State and our citizens to the impacts of climate change,” said DNR Secretary John Griffin.

Out of the nine proposals received, four projects have been selected and will begin in October 2009. These include: the development of a strategic plan targeting sea level rise and climate change in Anne Arundel County; improvements to Caroline County’s floodplain and stormwater management programs; 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; and an integrated community and watershed design project for the town of Queenstown.

“Land planning decisions in coastal areas along the Chesapeake Bay shoreline are made primarily by local municipalities,” said Kathy Boomer, a member of the Queenstown Planning Commission. “Without support from programs like Coast-Smart Communities, Queenstown and many of the other small municipalities often operated by citizen volunteers could not provide the resources needed to implement watershed-based Comprehensive Plans designed to protect our regional water resources.”

“Anne Arundel County is almost completely surrounded by tidal and non-tidal waterways and is therefore susceptible to the effects of climate change and sea level rise,” said Lynn Miller, a planning administrator, with the County Office of Planning and Zoning. “The Coast-Smart Communities Initiative will assist the County in identifying areas that are vulnerable to sea level rise impacts, completing an inventory of resources within potential impact areas, and developing a strategic plan. We are also looking to use the program to promote public awareness…and steps that citizens can take to be prepared.”

In addition to the grant program – which caps individual awards at $75,000 --- State officials will work with community leaders to provide the planning guidance, training and tools that they need to become Coast-Smart.

Information about the Coast-Smart Communities Initiative – including currently funded projects and steps to help communities become more ready, adaptive and resilient – is available at http://www.dnr.state.md.us/bay/czm/index.html.


   September 22, 2009

Contact: Darlene Pisani
410-260-8004 office I 410-507-7524 cell
dpisani@dnr.state.md.us

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR), which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, is the state agency responsible for providing natural and living resource-related services to citizens and visitors. DNR manages more than 461,000 acres of public lands and 17,000 miles of waterways, along with Maryland's forests, fisheries, and wildlife for maximum environmental, economic and quality of life benefits. A national leader in land conservation, DNR-managed parks and natural, historic, and cultural resources attract 12 million visitors annually. DNR is the lead agency in Maryland's effort to restore the Chesapeake Bay, the state's number one environmental priority. Learn more at www.dnr.maryland.gov