Community Resilience Planning

Regional Collaboration for Coastal Resilience in Southern Midcoast Maine

The New England Environmental Finance Center (EFC) and Casco Bay Estuary Partnership (CBEP) partnered with the coastal towns of Harpswell, Phippsburg, and West Bath to help town administrators, staff, and volunteers prepare for the effects of climate change and identify and secure funding for shared resilience priorities. As small, peninsular communities reliant on natural resource economies and home to aging populations, participants sought to better understand climate impacts like sea level rise, storm surge, flooding, and erosion and relevant adaptation strategies and funding sources.

Over six months, New England EFC and CBEP piloted a three-part workshop series to identify community assets (physical, ecological,  social), understand local climate-related hazards, vulnerabilities, and risks affecting those assets, and brainstorm and prioritize actions that build resilience. Workshops included opportunities to hear directly from community members representing conservation commissions, land trusts, and the shellfishing industry, as well as guest speakers on technical, scientific, planning, and funding-related topics and approaches.

In parallel, each community worked through a step-by-step vulnerability and risk assessment tool adapted from the U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit. This process formed new relationships and established a foundation for regional collaboration, which led the cohort to craft a successful joint proposal for state funding to advance a shared resilience project that positions them to compete for larger federal funds in the future. This effort was one of three pilots sponsored by the Governor’s Office of Policy Innovation and the Future and informed the development of the new statewide Community Resilience Partnership.