We have exciting news! Maine’s Climate Action Plan “Maine Won’t Wait” was released on Tuesday. The plan is a four-year road map for the state to follow as we work to address the causes and impacts of climate change.
I serve on the Coastal and Marine Working Group of the Maine Climate Council, and Friends of Casco Bay spent hundreds of hours working on coastal-related aspects of the plan. Media reports have focused on the parts of the plan aimed at reducing carbon emissions and achieving carbon neutrality in Maine by 2045. The plan also includes important mitigation measures to help our communities adapt to looming changes. We are impressed and pleased with the Mills’ administration’s commitment to addressing the causes and consequences of climate change. Here is a link to the plan: https://www.maine.gov/future/sites/maine.gov.future/files/inline-files/MaineWontWait_December2020.pdf
Here are some highlights from the Climate Action Plan in relation to Casco Bay:
Establish a monitoring network and Coastal and Marine Information Exchange (pages 79-81 of the plan)
The information exchange will help municipal and regional officials make decisions based on the best available science and projections. For example, infrastructure should be built with an understanding of sea level rise projections. The information exchange model builds upon and likely will incorporate the voluntary Maine Ocean and Coastal Acidification (MOCA) partnership that we helped establish and coordinate. MOCA will meet next week to discuss its role in helping the State achieve its climate action goals. The plan also seeks to establish a statewide monitoring network by 2024. We expect this network to build upon existing public-private monitoring networks, including our seasonal monitoring and Continuous Monitoring Stations. Others, including the Wells Reserve and the Department of Marine Resources, already are consulting with our Staff Scientist Mike Doan as they develop their ocean acidification monitoring stations.
Assess and protect our blue carbon stocks for carbon sequestration and to help our coast provide healthy habitat and climate resiliency (pages 78-79)
We are very excited by this goal. “Blue carbon stocks” include vital habitat including coastal salt marshes, seagrass beds, and seaweeds. These resources not only store carbon, but also are critical for a healthy Casco Bay. These environments provide nursery grounds and habitat; they also can absorb storm surges better than man-made structures.
Revise Maine’s coastal land use laws to consider climate change (page 87)
We look forward to working with the State to revise its stormwater laws and regulations and other land use laws in the coastal zone. Without these changes, we cannot prepare for and mitigate the consequences of climate change.
Foster nature-based solutions (page 87)
Protecting and restoring Maine’s valuable coastal resources are critically important to adapting to climate change. If we restore natural water flows with right-sized culverts, plan for marsh migration, restore and protect coastal wetlands and dunes, the benefits will be invaluable. We need to retain as much of our current coastal resources as possible and help our coastal environments and people adapt to climate change.
We appreciate Governor Mills’ leadership and commitment to the climate crisis, at a time when we are all coping with a second crisis—the pandemic.
We will continue our commitment at Friends of Casco Bay to reducing the causes of climate change and to addressing its consequences. We are about to expand our array of Continuous Monitoring Stations in the Bay, and we are elated at the timing of this effort. Data from these stations will deepen not only our understanding of what we will need to do to protect Casco Bay, but more broadly may be of benefit to all of coastal Maine. We look forward to working with the Department of Environmental Protection and others in helping Maine reshape coastal regulations. We expect to be very actively engaged in this effort.
We will keep you updated as we continue to work with state agencies, partner organizations, and community members to help implement the plan.