COASTAL PRO­JECTS GET A $3.7M BOOST

Grants aimed at mak­ing Hamp­ton Roads ar­eas more re­silient to storms and flood­ing

Daily Press - - Front Page - By Tamara Di­et­rich Staff writer

Hamp­ton Roads is get­ting more than $3.7 mil­lion in fed­eral grants for pro­jects to strengthen coast­lines against the im­pacts of storms and sea level rise.

The grants to the James River As­so­ci­a­tion, the city of Nor­folk and the Vir­ginia In­sti­tute of Marine Sci­ence will go to build liv­ing shore­lines in Hamp­ton and Nor­folk and bol­ster the re­siliency of Vir­ginia’s bar­rier is­lands.

To­gether with lo­cal match­ing funds, the to­tal amount ded­i­cated to re­gional pro­jects is more than $7.4 mil­lion.

The grants, an­nounced Fri­day, are among 35 to­tal­ing $28.9 mil­lion awarded in 22 states and Puerto Rico by the Na­tional Fish and Wildlife Foun­da­tion and NOAA as part of a new Na­tional Coastal Re­silience Fund.

The Rich­mond-based James River As­so­ci­a­tion will use its $2.2 mil­lion grant, along with match­ing funds, to build adap­tive liv­ing shore­lines and green in­fra­struc­ture pro­jects on pub­lic land in Hamp­ton.

JRA Pro­gram Direc­tor Shawn Ral­ston said Hamp­ton is at the fore­front of the grow­ing ur­ban shore­line re­silience move­ment, and this lat­est project will go a long way to­ward pre­vent­ing ero­sion and en­hanc­ing pub­lic land.

The grant will also help form a Liv­ing Shore­line Col­lab­o­ra­tive to fos­ter ur­ban/ ru­ral co­op­er­a­tion across the lower James.

Nor­folk will use its $1.3 mil­lion and a $1.2 mil­lion match to build a hy­brid liv­ing shore­line and ex­pand a ri­par­ian buf­fer along the Lafayette River. The project will bol­ster the shore­line in a lower-in­come neigh­bor­hood and sup­port wa­ter quality and habi­tat im­prove­ments.

And VIMS in Gloucester Point will put its $250,000 grant and its match to­ward an en­gi­neer­ing de­sign plan to re­store and ex­pand a 450acre marsh along south­ern Cedar Is­land on the East­ern Shore and pro­vide re­siliency out­reach to res­i­dents there.

Chris Hein, VIMS coastal ge­ol­o­gist, said Cedar Is­land is prob­a­bly the fastest-erod­ing is­land in Vir­ginia. It serves to pro­tect the town of Wachapreague. The project will use the marsh grow­ing in back of the bar­rier is­land to slow its in­land mi­gra­tion.

“It’s a new ap­proach to nat­u­rally sta­bi­liz­ing a bar­rier

is­land by build­ing up its back­side,” Hein said Fri­day.

VIMS is part­ner­ing on the project with Ran­dolph-Ma­con Col­lege, The Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton Univer­sity and the Stan­tec Inc. con­sult­ing en­gi­neer­ing firm, based in Canada.

Erika Feller, direc­tor of Marine and Coastal Con­ser­va­tion at the NFWF, man­ages the coastal re­silience fund, which launched in June.

“When we talk about bring­ing peo­ple to­gether, this is what it looks like,” Feller said Fri­day. “Work­ing with con­gres­sional lead­ers, with NOAA and the pri­vate sec­tor cre­ated an ex­tra­or­di­nary fund­ing op­por­tu­nity for con­ser­va­tion and to help coastal com­mu­ni­ties.”

The fund sought out two types of pro­jects, she said — those “that were de­signed, that were per­mit­ted, that were ready to go” and those that needed a boost to get to the con­struc­tion phase. By Au­gust, they had re­ceived 174 pro­pos­als.

“From this in­cred­i­ble re­sponse, we see ev­i­dence that com­mu­ni­ties have been think­ing re­ally hard about ways to man­age the risks posed by coastal storms and flood­ing,” Feller said.

Key to au­tho­riz­ing and fund­ing the new grants were U.S. Sen. Shel­don White­house, D-R.I., and Sen. John Kennedy, R-La.

“We have to pay at­ten­tion to Amer­ica’s coast­lines,” White­house said. “And we don’t. Too much of what hap­pens on the coast­lines is ig­nored in Congress.

“What peo­ple don’t know who don’t live near the coasts is what the coasts are fac­ing in terms of haz­ards, whether it’s our fishermen (fac­ing) off­shore warm­ing so that the fish­eries out there are com­pletely turned up­side down, or whether it is coastal mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties hav­ing to worry about flood­ing and storm surge in ways that they never had to think about be­fore.”

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF C. HOBBS/VIMS

$250,000 and a match will go to help bol­ster rapidly erod­ing Cedar Is­land on the East­ern Shore, left, by build­ing up its marsh. Rapid land­ward mi­gra­tion has stranded sev­eral va­ca­tion homes built there in the 1980s.$2.2 mil­lion, along with match­ing funds, will be used to build adap­tive liv­ing shore­lines and green in­fra­struc­ture pro­jects in Hamp­ton.$1.3 mil­lion, and a $1.2 mil­lion match, will build a hy­brid liv­ing shore­line and ex­pand a ri­par­ian buf­fer along the Lafayette River

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