AUGUSTA — The Maine Coastal Program, formerly run by the state Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, is now a division of the Department of Marine Resources.
The move, made possible by the recently passed state budget, will allow the DMR to build on initiatives of the Coastal Program that affect Maine’s coastal communities.
The change includes a transfer of $3.4 million in federal funds received by the Coastal Program and nearly $170,000 in other revenue. Six staff members who formerly worked at the DACF are now DMR employees and located within the department’s Augusta and Boothbay Harbor offices.
“This move made sense because of the shared focus on the health of Maine’s coastal ecosystem and economy between the DMR and the Maine Coastal Program,” DMR Commissioner Patrick Keliher said in a statement.
The Maine Coastal Program works in partnership with local, regional, state and federal agencies with the goal of managing Maine’s coastal resources for the public benefit. The DMR has been among the partners working with the MCP since its inception in 1978.
“DMR has received Coastal Program funding for many years to support some of our core work, such as fisheries co-management and the shellfish growing area program,” Keliher said. “DMR and the Coastal Program have also historically focused on similar initiatives such as habitat restoration and mapping, and working waterfront preservation.”
Maine is one of 36 states and territories that participate in the National Coastal Zone Management Program. The program is a voluntary partnership between the federal government and U.S. coastal and Great Lakes states and territories authorized by the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972 to address shared national, state and local coastal issues.
The program is funded and overseen by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office for Coastal Management. The Maine Coastal Program distributes federal funds matched by state and local sources, to enable projects that benefit Maine’s coastal communities.
“This will also allow us to focus resources on priorities shared by DMR and the Maine Coastal Program,” Keliher said. “These include changing environmental conditions such as ocean acidification, and enhancement of economic growth sectors such as aquaculture.”
The Maine Coastal Program’s other areas of focus include waterfront planning and revitalization, land use planning technical assistance to municipalities, adaptation to shoreline erosion and sea level rise, habitat restoration, seafloor mapping, public access and public education.