Grant Funding Available for Coastal Resilience Planning Projects

Mar 27, 2019

As part of the state’s efforts to make New Jersey more resilient, the Department of Environmental Protection has announced that nonprofits, colleges and universities may apply for grants to develop projects that will assist the department in helping communities prepare for storms and sea level rise. The Resilient NJ program is making a total of $250,000 in grant funding available for projects that will assist the DEP in developing and enhancing guidance, tools and information the department provides to communities in coastal and river areas.

“New Jersey is particularly vulnerable to the effects of sea level rise caused by climate change,” Commissioner Catherine R. McCabe said. “The work that comes out of these projects will ensure that all communities vulnerable to sea level rise – whether along barrier islands or in urban areas along tidal rivers – have the best and latest science, guidance and tools they need to prepare for sea level rise.”

Eligible projects include development of guidance documents, planning tools, training, communications and outreach plans and research, as well as other efforts that directly support resilience planning.

As many as eight awards will be issued. Minimum awards will be $20,000, with a maximum award of $100,000. Grant applications are due May 1. Winning proposals will be notified no later than Aug. 30.

According to the DEP, “Resilient NJ is an important piece of New Jersey’s comprehensive efforts to address climate change and make the state more resilient, including rejoining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and partnerships with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to study resilience options for New Jersey’s coastal, bay and river areas.”

In addition, the DEP’s Coastal Resilience Plan, launched in October, will guide policies, regulations, resource allocation and funding in the coastal zone. Its goal is to reduce the impacts of flooding hazards and increase resilience for structures, infrastructure systems, environmental resources, and coastal communities, while addressing the needs of socially vulnerable populations and attracting equitable and sustainable investment.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is providing funding for the Resilient NJ grants as part of its National Disaster Resilience Competition, which works to make communities more flood-resilient after major natural disasters.

Last year the DEP awarded Resilient NJ grants to four regional teams, including a Long Beach Island team, with Long Beach Township as the lead, and all other Island municipalities signed on as team members. St. Francis Community Center was also included in the application, which required a non-governmental organization. The inclusion of St. Francis, said Angela Andersen, LBT sustainability coordinator, further assists “in identifying the socially vulnerable population that exists on Long Beach Island, and finding innovative solutions to increase the resiliency of this population.”

Those grants, each up to $200,000, were open to regional teams and planning commissions, counties and utility authorities to participate in a comprehensive planning process to address coastal and river-related flooding. As the state explained, the four selected groups were “partnered with multi-disciplinary consulting teams to identify important community assets, assess vulnerability to future flooding along the coast and from rivers, identify actions to reduce flood risk, evaluate these options using a detailed cost-benefit analysis, and develop regional resilience and adaptation action plans.”

“This Resilient NJ funding is the next step in planning for a more resilient community: identifying and communicating risks and coming up with some actionable solutions,” Andersen noted. “We have a strong regional planning track record on the Island, meaning the towns collectively have participated in regional resilience planning,” including completion of a regional Coastal Vulnerability Assessment in 2016 and the Getting to Resiliency program in 2015.

As the team stated in its application last year, “The regional CVA was accepted by all Island communities, and addressed regional hazards and provided recommendations for the barrier island as a whole entity. The goal of a regional CVA plan was to increase the resiliency of each municipality through consideration of the coastal hazards challenges and potential solutions of the entire island. This Coastal Vulnerability Assessment not only evaluated the Island’s level of exposure of its built and natural environments, but also analyzed the social environment and the impacts it may face from storm surge related to future storms and flooding.”

The DEP partnered these teams with consultants to help them develop Regional Resilience and Adaptation Action Plans. Additional funding will be available through the Resilient NJ program to implement some of the identified actions. The program runs through 2022.

To learn more about Resilient NJ and how to apply for a grant, visit nj.gov/dep/oclup/resilientnj. For more information on the Coastal Resilience Plan, visit nj.gov/dep/coastalresilience.

— Juliet Kaszas-Hoch

juliet@thesandpaper.net

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