As a coastal region, the implications of climate change are becoming a more public and pressing issue. A host of work has been initiated in the region, generally focused on communities already experiencing implications such as elevated storm surge related to sea level rise. Much of this work has taken place on a town-by-town basis and had yet to be placed in a larger context or regional strategy. To help bring balance to the manner in which the issues are addressed, Sustain Southern Maine conducted both a regional Sea Level Rise Vulnerability Assessment and developed a set of priority strategies and actions that address a broader set of climate change related issues, such as high heat days and emergency management.
Much like the process for identifying other priorities, the climate change priorities were drawn from an existing report and further refined by a group of stakeholders comprised of local experts. The People and Nature: Adapting to a Changing Climate report was produced by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection in 2010 at the request of the state legislature. The Department coordinated more than 70 groups and working committees in developing the plan; but with changes in state leadership the comprehensive plan has sat unused. Drawing from this plan as well as supplementing with their own expert knowledge the stakeholder group identified 35 strategies and actions and further refined their list to 11 priority strategies and actions. This work was further supported by a Knowledge Sharing session, Adapting to Climate Change in Maine.
Local experts included:
- Dr. Curtis Bohlen, Casco Bay Estuary Partnership
- Malcolm Burson, Conservation Law Foundation
- Stephanie Carver, Greater Portland Council of Governments
- Annie Cox, The Wells Reserve at Laudholm National Estuarine Research Reserve
- Matthew Craig, Casco Bay Estuary Partnership
- Lee Jay Feldman, Southern Maine Planning and Development Commission
- Elizabeth Hertz, Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry
- Dr. Samuel Merrill, GEI Consulting Engineers and Scientists (formerly Catalysis Adaptation Partners)
- Rebeccah Schaffner, Greater Portland Council of Governments
- Peter Slovinsky, Maine Geologic Survey
- Shutsu Wong, US Environmental Protection Agency
The following report was prepared by a Muskie School graduate student in partnership with SSM: