A New Cross-Sector Collaboration Tackles Planning for Climate Change and Social Vulnerability in Midcoast Maine

A new cross-sector climate adaptation project is in the works in southern Midcoast Maine. A coalition of partners (see list below) is working with a group of coastal towns from Brunswick to Woolwich to carry out a scenario planning process for a coastal hazard event related to sea level rise and coastal storms. This work builds on a previous initiative where community and organization officials shared their vision of better regional coordination to address barriers to climate adaptation, to reduce the threat to the region’s most vulnerable populations.

The project team will use the scenario planning process to shed light on current levels of coordination and to discover opportunities to improve coordination between organizations that help vulnerable residents in these communities, be better prepared to adapt to and recover from storm events. The intended outcome is for emergency managers, social service providers, conservation organizations, municipalities and other community stakeholders to be more coordinated and connected at a regional scale, and empowered to address social vulnerabilities in each community. To help realize this vision of improved regional coordination, lessons learned and project results will be shared throughout the state.  

The project team will be developing the scenario for a table-top exercise, guided by an Advisory Committee of state, local, and nonprofit experts. The exercise will be scheduled for February - March 2021 and likely will be held virtually, rather than in person as originally planned, due to COVID-19. Specific tools used in the scenario are the Maine Coastal Risk Explorer, developed by Blue Sky Planning, Bowdoin College, and The Nature Conservancy using data from the DACF-Maine Geological Survey, as well as a Social Vulnerability Index (SVI) for Maine’s coastal communities. The SVI, developed by the same team, shows vulnerability by Census Block Group. All information can be found at: maps.coastalresilience.org/maine (click on the ‘Coastal Risk’ button to enter the data viewer).

Towns being served by this project are Arrowsic, Bath, Brunswick, Georgetown, Harpswell, Phippsburg, West Bath and Woolwich.

The Project Team includes Bowdoin College (Eileen Johnson), Casco Bay Estuary Partnership (CBEP) (Victoria Boundy), Kennebec Estuary Land Trust (KELT) (Ruth Indrick), Maine Sea Grant (Kristen Grant), The Nature Conservancy (TNC) (Jeremy Bell), Blue Sky Planning Solutions (Liz Hertz), and Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve (Annie Cox). Current funding has been secured from the Maine Coastal Communities Grant Program, TNC, Maine Sea Grant, and Bowdoin College.

For more information, please contact: Ruth Indrick, Kennebec Estuary Land Trust at 207-442-8400 or rindrick@kennebecestuary.org

2019 Social resilience workshop. Photo credit: Annie Cox.

The project team conducting a social resilience workshop in 2019. Photo credit: Annie Cox.

Written by:

Jeremy Bell

Jeremy Bell is Climate Adaptation Program Director with The Nature Conservancy in Maine, based in Brunswick. He is a member of the project team.