U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse Tuesday announced that the Town of New Shoreham has won $187,000 in federal funding from the National Coastal Resilience Fund (NCRF), which was developed by Whitehouse to restore and strengthen the natural infrastructure protecting coastal communities. New Shoreham will use the funding to bolster the dune, beach, salt marsh, coastal pond, and near-shore marine ecosystems around Block Island and better protect critical infrastructure, including Corn Neck Road, from climate-related threats.
“I created the National Coastal Resilience Fund so communities could rely on a steady stream of funding to prepare for and adapt to the threats posed by climate change,” said Whitehouse. “Block Island is an Ocean State gem, and it’s facing some unique challenges from climate change. I’m very glad to announce this funding to harden Block Island’s critical infrastructure and strengthen the Island’s natural coastal defenses against rising seas and worsening storms.”
This round of funding, for 27 awards totaling $44.7 million, was made possible with funding from Democrats’ historic Inflation Reduction Act, which invested $2.6 billion in climate resilience and coastal communities through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Another round of NCRF funding is expected to be awarded later this year. The National Coastal Resilience Fund is jointly administered by NOAA and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
Block Island’s shoreline has for years faced threats from beach erosion and increased storm and tide damage. The town of New Shoreham will use this grant to identify nature-based solutions to protect critical infrastructure and habitat in the Block Island National Wildlife Refuge, and enhance the surrounding dune, beach, salt marsh, coastal pond, and near-shore marine ecosystems. The grant will also be used to support the Island’s natural ecosystems, improve local habitats for fish and wildlife, and harden Corn Neck Road, a critical local infrastructure asset.
“The Town of New Shoreham is grateful for Senator Whitehouse’s continued support of our local resiliency efforts and his leadership on the issue of climate change and sea level rise nationally,” said Maryanne Crawford, Town Manager, Town of New Shoreham. “As a community we are very committed to furthering our resiliency planning efforts and prioritizing the implementation of adaptation measures. This grant from the National Coastal Resilience Fund will provide the Town with the opportunity to actively work with professionals to come up with a viable plan to make Block Island more resilient.”
From 2018 to 2021, the National Coastal Resilience Fund awarded more than $136 million to 173 projects across the nation. In 2022, thanks to funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the NCRF awarded more than $144 million to 96 projects nationwide.
Past local recipients of the grant fund include the University of Rhode Island and Friends of Green Hill Pond, Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, Save The Bay, and the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council and its partners. In Rhode Island, funding has been used to identify sites vulnerable to sea level rise that would benefit from shoreline adaptation, design projects to prevent flooding, and restore dunes and habitats that act as natural buffers for coastal areas.
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