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November 10, 2023

$201K federal grant will help Downeast communities weather climate change

boats traps harbor File photo / Laurie Schreiber Tremont — home to a large fishing fleet, marinas and boatyards — is looking to plan for climate change.

Climate change planning and energy efficiency programs in Downeast communities will be the focus of a $201,000 grant awarded to the Island Institute in Rockland.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s rural development program made the money available to the institute’s fellow program throughout Washington County and in the Hancock County towns of Tremont and Brooklin.

The money will allow the institute to include three additional communities in its fellows program:

In Washington County, residents of four towns comprising the Sunrise Trail Coalition — Cherryfield, Jonesboro, Machias and Columbia Falls — utilize the trail for outdoor recreation and alternative transportation. The fellow working on the project will work with residents to find ways to improve the trail and make it more useful and accessible.

In Brooklin, the fellow will work with the town’s Climate Response Committee to help improve energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, by working with homeowners, businesses and municipal leaders to improve energy efficiency in local facilities and to devise more community-driven energy transition strategies.

Tremont’s fellow will work with A Climate to Thrive, a nonprofit supporting local efforts to develop a community resilience plan. Working with area residents, the fellow will help coordinate the creation of the plan and its implementation. The goals of the project include curbing carbon emissions and preparing for the impact of climate change locally.

“Small towns are just as committed to climate response and community resiliency as more urban areas, but often don’t have the staff necessary to realize their goals,” said USDA Rural Development Maine State Director Rhiannon Hampson. “The Island Institute Fellows not only bring their technical expertise to these projects, but they are also backed by the institute’s decades of local expertise and support.”

The Island Institute matched the grant, providing further leverage to help fund the fellows program, which spans the Maine coast and is also funded by individual donations, host communities and private foundations. 

The Island Institute, founded in 1983, is a community development organization focused on island and coastal communities. The fellows program was established in 1999 to place college and master’s degree graduates in Maine’s coastal and island communities for two-year fellowships.

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