Coastal Bays officials offer to help association solicit grants for larger endeavor
By Greg Ellison
(Nov. 25, 2021) Looking to take a second swipe at securing state funding for a proposed restoration of Jenkins Point, Maryland Coastal Bays Program Watershed Coordinator Steve Farr reconfirmed financial support from the Ocean Pines Board on Saturday.
“Last year Maryland Coastal Bays approached [Director] Doug Parks to consider some opportunities for resiliency projects,” he said.
Farr said Coastal Bays’ officials were aware the Maryland Department of the Environment had issued request for proposals for community projects to protect natural assets and habitat.
“We looked at several opportunities in Ocean Pines and Jenkins Point really popped out,” he said. “We put together a proposal for DNR and submitted about this time last year.”
The funding, while not ultimately awarded, was intended to support design and permitting for the restoration work.
In recent years, a precipitous decline has been observed in migrating bird species traditionally spotted on the Eastern Shore.
The proposal would seek long-term restoration of the coastal bay island located in the Isle of Wight Bay for use by colonial nesting birds, such as herons, swallows and sea gulls, which typically shelter in areas devoid of ground predators.
Farr previously estimated the Jenkins Point engineering study would cost up to $100,000, while the eventual project to restore migratory bird nesting habitats would total several million.
In May, the board unanimously approved investing $10,000 to cover design and permitting costs for a proposed restoration for Jenkins Point.
Despite the earlier funding denial, Farr said state officials indicated the project had been under consideration.
“If they had more money they hopefully would have approved it,” he said. “We have since had discussions with DNR and they have encouraged us to submit another proposal for this project.”
Farr said the next step would be for the board to reconfirm their earlier financial commitment.
“It’s always a big help to show local skin in the game,” he said.
Project funding is available through DNR’s Restoration for Resilience program.
Restore America’s Estuaries administers the funding stream provided by the Environmental Protection Agency for the National Estuary Program.
The intent is to bolster natural infrastructure to provide the community enhanced protection from climate change issues, notably the mounting occurrences of intense coastal storms causing erosion to shorelines and increased levels of flooding.
Grant application guidelines also require the board to discuss the matter in a public meeting.
“It’s one of the main reasons I’m here today,” he said. “At this point you have most of the elements needed.”
Far said the current project would be limited to design and permitting.
“If design and permitting is achieved what happens with these grants is that DNR would provide funding for construction,” he said. “There’s no financial commitment from the OPA beyond the $10,000 that was approved last year.”
Farr said in the event additional construction funding is required beyond DNR contributions; Coastal Bays’ officials would help the association source alternative streams.
“There are other opportunities to get money for projects like this,” he said. “We would work with you to seek other grants.”