Maine has had an approved coastal management program since 1978. Through a partnership with federal, state and regional agencies, local governments and others, the Maine Coastal Program works to balance the conservation and development of Maine’s coastal resources. While the core of Maine’s Coastal Program is the effective administration of environmental laws along the coast, the Program has conducted a wide range of projects over the last thirty two years. Some of these projects include modeling the effects of sea level rise, helping municipalities to plan for growth and climate change, planning for ocean energy development and addressing user conflicts in Maine’s coastal waters, using geographic information systems (GIS) to identify valuable habitats and track coastal hazards, planning for public access and the preservation of working waterfront, and continuing to encourage volunteer stewardship. By engaging in these projects, the Maine Coastal Program has remained active in a wide variety of coastal issues.
Section 309 of the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) offers states the opportunity to enhance their current coastal management programs by developing improvements to core law authorities, creating new programs, and designing new funding sources. This enhancement program requires states to periodically conduct a needs assessment of nine coastal policy areas that are considered priorities at the national level. This Plan includes Maine’s 2010 assessment of these issues. State priorities have been developed and the strategies outlined in this document will guide our program enhancement efforts over the next five years, from 2011-2015.
The Maine Coastal Program posted a draft version of this Assessment and Strategy on our website for a 30 day period in October and November and provided a notice of its availability to a lengthy list of program partners, collaborators and others. The comments received were extremely helpful to staff and were used in making changes to certain sections of this document. The comments are included in their entirety in Appendix B of this document, along with Maine Coastal Program staff responses (Appendix C). The final version of this document will be posted on our website following NOAA approval.
The content that follows the introductory material is divided into nine sections corresponding to the nine priority enhancement areas: Public Access, Coastal Hazards, Ocean Resources, Wetlands, Cumulative and Secondary Impacts, Marine Debris, Special Area Management Planning, Energy and Government Facilities Siting, and Aquaculture. An assessment of the status of the issue in Maine is included for each issue area. A subsequent chapter contains draft strategies for potential funding by NOAA. At present, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Section 309 funds available to the Maine Coastal Program to pursue the program enhancement strategies detailed in this document amount to roughly $400,000 per year. Thus there are many more strategies related to these topics (and others) that the Maine Coastal Program will undertake with other sources of funding. This document represents a menu of high priority strategies that are eligible for Section 309 funds and will be undertaken by the Maine Coastal Program (with partnering organizations). Projects will be chosen from this menu annually as part of federal grant applications. We pledge to fully draw upon all state and federal resources available to us to complete these projects, and to explore additional funding sources through grants, and other arrangements.