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The Wrack

The Wrack is the Wells Reserve blog, our collective logbook on the web.

Earth Day 2024: NOAA Announces $10.5 Million Toward Maine Coastal Resiliency Projects

Posted by | May 2, 2024 | Filed under: Program Activities

Earth Day 2024 kicked off with a bit of national fanfare here in Maine. On Monday, April 22, staff from the Wells Reserve at Laudholm joined town, state, and federal leaders at Scarborough Marsh to celebrate the announcement of $10.5 million in federal funding toward coastal resiliency projects in Maine. This is a portion of the $123 million announced on Earth Day by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to support coastal habitat restoration nationwide, through the Biden Administrations Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) and Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).

We are pleased to share that $2.87 million of that funding will go toward a Wells Reserve project in partnership with the Town of Wells. This funding will support the construction of a more resilient Drakes Island bridge and the conservation and restoration of 18 acres of coastal marshland. Paul Dest, Executive Director of the Wells Reserve, shared, The Drakes Island project represents the best of what the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law has to offer Maine and the nation: It will construct a new bridge that should better weather future rising seas and storms, develop a plan to restore tidal habitats for a range of wildlife species, and protect a beautiful keystone parcel that connects to a landscape of conservation lands in one of Maines fastest growing communities. The Wells Reserve will be sharing more about this exciting project in the months ahead.

Paul Dest, Executive Director of the Wells Reserve and Congresswoman Chellie Pingree

Other funded projects in Maine include restoration planning work for Scarborough Marsh and upgrades to culverts and tidal flow infrastructure in Brunswick and Perry. To make the announcement, leaders from NOAA, Congresswoman Chellie Pingree, Hannah Pingree of Governor Millss Office of Policy Innovation and the Future, and representatives of Senator Collins, Senator King, and Congressman Golden convened at the Eastern Trail crossing in Scarborough. Under a crisp blue sky with the marsh as a backdrop, speakers emphasized the Biden Administrations commitment to climate action and commended Maine for taking the lead in this work. Arati Prabhakar, Policy Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology reaffirmed the message that, Nature is not only a catalyst for reflection; it demands action.

Arati Prabhakar, Policy Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology

All of the speakers called attention to the unprecedented storms Maine has seen over the past winter and the resulting devastation to coastal habitats and communities. Given the location and nature of the funded projects, the dignitaries also highlighted the important role marshes can play in mitigating the effects of such weather events. As Representative Pingree stated, Weve really started to learn that marshes arent something that we just go to visit, go for a hike, take a canoe, but these are the places that protect our critical coastal habitats and its very important for us to protect them.

Following the remarks, Andrew Mackie of Scarborough Land Trust and Steve Pinette, President of Friends of Scarborough Marsh, led attendees on a brief tour of the marsh via the Eastern Trail and explained the potential restoration projects in more depth. The afternoon concluded with a panel discussion at Scarborough Town Hall featuring local leaders closely tied to each funded project, as well as NOAA representatives. Panelists weighed in on the challenges and opportunities of climate work at the municipal, state, and federal levels. Carol Murray, Wells Public Works Director, and Jacob Aman, Stewardship Director of the Wells Reserve, joined in on the panel, representing the Wells project. The Wells Reserves current Margaret A. Davidson Fellow, Helen Cheng, also participated, adding her perspective as an early-career scientist.

Attendees tour Scarborough Marsh via the Eastern Trail.

Despite the acknowledged challenges of climate change, the day ended on a hopeful note. Collaboration was the name of the game, with all panelists citing the importance of partnerships within and across communities to share information, ideas, research, and opportunities. Carol Murray from the Town of Wells may have said it best: After 40 years of this work, I know the first thing on any project is - go find a smart person to work with. Luckily, the Wells Reserve was there.

Coastal Resiliency Panel at Scarborough Town Hall.

Read more about the announced NOAA funding in Maine, across the national estuarine research reserve system, and across the country.

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