The Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management's Coastal Resilience Grant Program has awarded local towns more than $1 million in grants to combat the impact of climate change.
On Tuesday the Baker-Polito Administration announced that Chatham, Brewster and Orleans will receive funding to address erosion, salt marsh restoration and shoreside infrastructure improvements. The grants were among $12.6 million awarded statewide to mark Climate Week.
Chatham will benefit from two grants. An $86,732 award will cover environmental permitting for a proposal to redirect currents from the Stage Harbor entrance channel and protect Crescent Beach from erosion. A study recommended temporary structures in the waters off Morris Island to reduce shoaling heading toward the channel, which the town has had to dredge annually to maintain access for mariners, said Coastal Resources Director Ted Keon.
“The last three years we had to dredge multiple times just to keep [the channel] open,” he said. Although the channel is in good shape now, he anticipates dredging again this winter, either by Barnstable County or the Army Corps of Engineers, or both, which has happened the past few winters.
Temporary structures in the water would theoretically deflect the currents enough to reduce the shoaling. The grant will help pay for designs and permits as well as coordinating with the Army Corps and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The project's other aim is to prevent further erosion of Crescent Beach, which is in danger of breaking through from Nantucket Sound into Stage Harbor, which could severely impact the harbor, Keon said.
A public meeting on the project is tentatively scheduled for October, and Keon said officials hope to have plans completed and permits filed by June. The select board would then decide whether to move forward. The town would likely seek another Coastal Resilience grant to help fund construction, Keon added.
Chatham is also taking the lead on behalf of the Pleasant Bay Alliance on a project to restore salt marsh at Jackknife Beach. The project received an $82,690 grant to complete permitting and prepare construction documents for a “living shoreline” project that will protect fringe salt marsh and prevent erosion along the road that leads to the beach. The project is part of a master plan for Jackknife Beach for which the town has received community preservation funding. Additional Coastal Resilience funding would likely be sought for construction, Keon said.
Orleans was awarded a $599,516 grant to upgrade marine fuel facilities at Rock Harbor by removing vulnerable underground fuel tanks and replacing them with new above-ground units in a more landward location.
Orleans was anticipating the funding, which will reduce the cost to the town of installing the above-ground tanks from $800,000 to $175,000. The town will likely seek the latter amount through town meeting in May, according to DPW director Tom Daley.
Brewster, Dennis and Orleans received a $288,414 Coastal Resilience grant to develop a comprehensive shoreline management plan for the 14.5-mile shoreline between Bass Hole in Dennis and Rock Harbor in Orleans.
CZM’s Coastal Resilience Grant Program provides funding and technical assistance for local efforts to evaluate vulnerabilities to climate impacts, increase community awareness, and understanding of these issues, plan for changing conditions, redesign vulnerable community facilities and infrastructure, and restore shoreline systems through non-structural approaches, according to a press release. Including the current round of grants, the Baker-Polito Administration has invested $35.7 million in 182 coastal resilience improvement projects through the program since 2015. Funding through the program has supported comprehensive planning, infrastructure retrofits, and shoreline restoration projects to reduce wave energy, erosion, and flooding impacts.
“Coastal communities in Massachusetts face increasing risks to infrastructure, buildings, and natural resources due to coastal storms and climate change,” Baker said in a statement. “We have been focused on investing in climate change solutions since taking office, and we commend local leaders for their forward-thinking planning and action with these Coastal Resilience Grant projects.”
Reporter Ryan Bray contributed to this story.