WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin, Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Water and Wildlife Subcommittee and Barbara A. Mikulski, Chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, (both D-Md.) today announced that the Department of the Interior will invest more than $12.5 million in federal funds to protect Maryland’s shoreline communities from future powerful storms, including restoring marshes, wetlands and beaches, rebuilding shorelines, and researching the impacts and modeling mitigation of storm surge impacts.
“Hurricane Sandy cost our country billions of dollars in damage and over one hundred lives. The unprecedented flooding and winds hurt communities throughout Maryland, devastated our coastal ecosystems, and threatened the health of the iconic Chesapeake Bay,” said Senator Cardin, Chairman of the Senate Water and Wildlife Subcommittee that has oversight responsibility for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. “The federal funding being announced today is vitally important to our ability to restore our coastal regions and, especially, to protect ourselves against future storms. Today’s awards are a critical investment in the future health and safety of our communities.”
“The Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean are integral parts of who we are as Marylanders – our heritage, our economy and our culture. Maryland’s coastal communities know the measurable impact destructive storms can have on lives and livelihoods,” said Senator Mikulski, Chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee that funds the Interior Department. “These funds in the federal checkbook to rebuild and restore Maryland shorelines and waterways are critical to communities still recovering from Super-Storm Sandy. By researching the impacts and mitigation of future storm surge, we will better protect homes, businesses and tourism in our coastal communities.”
The funding announced today provides $113 million for 25 on-the-ground projects to restore coastal marshes, wetlands and shoreline, create habitat connectivity, improve flood resilience and undertake other efforts to protect nearby areas from future storms. An additional $45 million is being invested in assessments, modeling, coastal barrier mapping and other projects to provide federal, state and local land managers and decision makers the information and tools they need to improve resiliency and prepare for future storms. A full list of those projects is available here.
More than $12,500,000 will be invested in Maryland projects including:
- $1,212,750 – Flood resilience in Maryland will be improved at two locations: removal of the Centreville Dam reduces the threat of flooding to a nearby municipal building and restores access to 2 miles of American eel and river herring spawning habitat; removal of the Bloede Dam reduces flood risk and protects a municipal sewage line while restoring access to 9 miles of eel, herring and American shad habitat.
- $553,425 – The US Fish and Wildlife Service, in partnership with the National park Service, The Nature Conservancy, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and the Virginia Marine Resources Commission, proposes to construct two living shoreline projects and two acres of oyster reefs on the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge that will help restore and rebuild the Refuge after impacts associated with Hurricane Sandy. The Chincoteague NWR Living Shorelines/Living Reefs project will also increase the resilience and capacity of certain Refuge infrastructure, i.e. Service and Beach roads, to withstand future storms with reduced damage
- $1,550,000 – Construct 4,000 feet of “living shoreline” that will stabilize a highly vulnerable shoreline at Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge and directly protect over 400 acres of high quality tidal marsh and submerged aquatic vegetation in the Chester River. This Green Infrastructure project will ensure that these habitats continue to provide ecosystem services to the human communities of the Chesapeake Bay.
- $638,000 – The USFWS and MD DNR will treat 2,000 acres of degraded wetlands on the Nanticoke River with herbicide to control Phragmites and restore natural hydrology to 600 acres of ditched and drained wetlands on Pocomoke Sound in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
- $9,000,000 – Construct 20,950 feet of “living shoreline” that will stabilize a highly vulnerable shoreline at Martin National Wildlife Refuge and directly protect over 1,200 acres of high quality tidal high marsh, submerged aquatic vegetation, and clam beds. This Green Infrastructure project will ensure that these fisheries resources will continue to provide economic benefits to the fishing communities directly connected to MNWR: Ewell, Tylerton, and Rhodes Point, on Smith Island.
Maryland is also included in several multi-state awards including:
- $4,050,000 – Continue the collection of topographic lidar elevation data to support the assessment, recovery, and mitigation requirements for priority watershed and ecosystem analyses in the Hurricane Sandy impact area that were not fully addressed with the first round of funding.
- $1,240,000 – This project will produce wetland impact assessments to understand, as early as possible, how northeastern Atlantic coastal wetland resources have been changing in terms of their extent and ecological structure and function, how they were changed by Hurricane Sandy, and how to use that information to inform remediation and conservation efforts.
- $2,200,000 – This project will increase the ability of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to recover recorded storm surge time-series data in a more timely and efficient manner, implement a coastal and near inland fixed-place storm surge network, and establish rapid response capabilities for targeted monitoring.
- $1,500,000 – The results of this project are intended to support existing storm-surge modeling efforts by other agencies and universities. Resilient platforms for storm surge and wave measurements will be established along several transects from edge of water through beach and wetland to near-coast environments to monitor storm processes and assess inundation potential. The effectiveness of differing landscapes, built and natural, in mitigating storm impacts will be defined and mapped, and data will be delivered to improve storm-surge models.
- $4,000,000 – This project involves mapping of the regional geologic framework and describing the physical processes governing the evolution of the Delmarva coastal system, which includes Assateague Island. We will produce actionable information for improving the resilience of coastal habitat and infrastructure to future storms and sea-level rise.
- $1,573,950 – This award will be used to : 1) assess the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy to the plant and bird communities of the tidal marsh for Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN), 2) assess the success of tidal marsh restoration efforts conducted under Hurricane Sandy mitigation funding, 3) describe tidal marsh resilience to storm events, 4) improve the level of Scientific Uncertainty for Hurricane Sandy’s Chain of Consequences as currently judged by the DOI Strategic Sciences Group – Operational Group Sandy (SSG-OGS), and 5) validate the Intervention Values previously assigned to possible post-storm actions by the SSG-OGS.
- $2,200,000 –This award will be used to measure and model estuarine and adjacent wetland sediment responses to Hurricane Sandy and future storms in two large Atlantic lagoonal estuaries. Evaluations of sediment transport, geomorphic change, circulation, wetland stability, and stratigraphic history will support development of models of storm impacts on estuarine health, vulnerability of adjacent communities, and sustainability of restored and natural wetlands.
- $2,400,000 – Project will measure estuarine and barrier island wetland physical change (marsh shoreline and interior) using data sets derived from remote sensing, aerial imagery, lidar, water-level gages, and sediment cores to develop a comprehensive impact assessment of Assateague Island and the associated estuarine shoreline. Resulting data will support development of a combined shoreline and wetland forecast of coastal vulnerability to future storm events, expanding the applicability of available USGS regional and national tools to include marsh/wetland shorelines.
- $1,750,000 – Coordinated effort by Landscape Conservation Cooperative (LCC) partners to integrate existing data, models and tools with foundational data and assessments of both the impacts of Hurricane Sandy and the immediate response to guide decisions about where to conduct what beach restoration, management and conservation actions to sustain ecological function, habitat suitability for wildlife and ecosystem services including flood abatement in the face of storm impacts and sea level rise.
- $1,025,000 – This project will provide a Web-based application to deliver habitat model outputs, which will provide decisionmakers with useful, credible data when determining the best use of restoration and recovery resources. This project will provide access to existing models and support the development and provision of two new models and associated data for application.
- $3,000,000 – The goal of this project is to acquire baseline, ground-based, high resolution bathymetric and terrestrial topographic data and information required to aid in developing highly accurate and precise models (inundation, storm surge, coastal change, climate change, sea level rise, etc.) that can be incorporated into future resiliency planning efforts for coastal parks in the Northeast Region. This project will acquire high-resolution elevation data for key park areas identified by park managers and planners, and seamless topographic surfaces will be developed across the landwater interface for those critical areas.
- $5,000,000 – This project is for the comprehensive modernization of the official maps of the John H. Chafee Coastal Barrier Resources System (CBRS) along the North Atlantic coast.
- $217,000 – To fully understand how climate change and severe storms affect saltmarsh ecosystems, the unique submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) complex and the species that exclusively use them (e.g. Atlantic brant), it is important to build predictive models for SAV prevalence pre and post-Sandy as well as in future sea-level rise scenarios for improved management of saltmarsh management and resiliency. To accomplish this broad goal, this project will address 5 objectives that will provide DOI agencies with information on salt marsh and SAV beds that were most negatively impacted by Hurricane Sandy to improve future management plans for increasing the resiliency of coastal habitats.
- $2,200,000 – Coordinated effort by Landscape Conservation Cooperative (LCC) partners to integrate existing data, models and tools with foundational data and impact assessments to guide decisions about where to conduct tidal marsh restoration, conservation and management to sustain ecological values, ecosystem services, habitat suitability and resiliency of tidal marshes and marsh species in the face of storm impacts, sea level rise and other stressors.
A Technical Review Panel of ten experts from eight Interior bureaus and the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration evaluated all 94 submitted projects totaling a requested $541 million. Using a framework developed by Interior’s Strategic Sciences Group, the panel scored each project within the Sandy impact area based on the ability to strengthen Federal assets and build coastal resilience to withstand future storms. Projects were selected based on their ability to provide measurable restoration outcomes and resilience benefits or useful data or management tools in a short timeframe. A priority was given to projects that will employ youth and veterans.
Team Maryland has been vigilant in protecting Maryland’s coastline from future storms and seeking disaster assistance since Sandy hit the Atlantic coast last October.
Senators Cardin and Mikulski both voted against legislation attacking critical beach replenishment projects, which would have had a detrimental impact on the safety and economic security of Maryland’s Eastern Shore. The Senators have also fought to ensure the Super-Storm Sandy Supplemental Appropriations bill included an expansion of the CDBG program as well as provided HUD with greater flexibility in determining what CDBG grants can pay for so families can get the help they need most. In December, the Senators wrote to HUD Secretary Donovan and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Craig Fugate urging their agencies to cut through red tape and calling on HUD to use maximum flexibility in awarding their CDBG assistance.
With the full support and backing of Team Maryland, FEMA reversed its initial denial of Individual Disaster Assistance for Somerset County, approving approved this assistance, which provides critical housing assistance and disaster-related support for families and individuals coping with the immediate aftermath of the storm.
Senators Cardin and Mikulski also led the Maryland delegation in urging President Obama to support a Pre-Disaster Declaration, Disaster Declaration and Individual Assistance for Maryland counties impacted by Super-Storm Sandy.