EPA Providing More Than $430,000 to Maine for Wetlands Projects
PORTLAND, Maine – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced more than $430,000 in grants to the state of Maine for state-led programs and projects that will protect, manage and restore wetlands across the state. The Maine Department of Environmental Protection received $375,000 in grants and the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry received $57,157. EPA expects to award a second round of these grants in the same amounts later this year.
The funds were provided through EPA's Wetland Program Development Grant program, which enables state, local and tribal governments to conduct a range of projects that promote research and pollution reduction efforts related to wetlands. In 2019, EPA awarded $1,323,000 in Wetland Program Development Grant funds across the six New England states.
"Wetlands provide a range of important benefits to ecosystems and local communities across New England, including critical habitat for various species of wildlife and natural buffers against flooding," said EPA New England Regional Administrator Dennis Deziel. "These grants exemplify EPA's commitment to helping our state and local partners further their wetlands research and protection programs that will have lasting impacts for decades to come."
"We have made significant progress over the past 20 years in developing a statewide wetland monitoring and assessment program thanks to continued support from these grants," said Maine DEP Commissioner Jerry Reid. "The current grant award will enable DEP to incorporate biological criteria for wetlands into State water quality standards through rulemaking next year."
Information on the funded projects:
The Maine Department of Protection received funding for three projects for evaluating wetland mitigation based on the state's aquatic life use criteria, adopting rules for wetland-specific numeric biological criteria under Maine's Water Quality Standards and incorporating plant community metrics in a multi-indicator wetland assessment framework.
A biological monitoring program will assess compensatory mitigation projects to evaluate the condition of wetlands and wetland-stream complexes based on the state water quality standards and biological criteria. Indicators such as aquatic macroinvertebrates, epiphytic algae and phytoplankton will be used and potential pollution sources identified. State biologists will partner with DEP Land Bureau staff and The Nature Conservancy of Maine to identify and prioritize sampling sites for the monitoring and provide recommendations to improve strategies and monitoring plans for mitigation projects.
A second project involves state biologists evaluating plant health to diagnose impairments from specific stressors such as nutrient enrichment, sedimentation, water level changes and toxic chemicals. The findings will be used to help agency decision-makers determine the causes and sources of wetland impairment and improve management strategies.
The final project involves a program to evaluate existing state water quality rules to determine if revisions are needed to protect wetlands and proposing the inclusion of wetland-specific numeric aquatic life criteria for aquatic macroinvertebrates and algae. This project will incorporate wetland models and a stream algae model into existing DEP biocriteria rules.
The Maine Department of Agriculture Conservation and Forestry Natural Areas Program received funding for a project to develop new tools for measuring programmatic progress and identifying survey priorities to increase wetland protection in Maine. The objectives of this project include developing and implementing a monitoring and assessment strategy consistent with elements of a state water program for wetlands; establishing and defining restoration and protection goals throughout the state; and, protecting wetlands from degradation or destruction.
For more information on the Wetland Program Development Grants, visit: https://www.epa.gov/wetlands/wetland-program-development-grants-and-epa-wetlands-grant-coordinators.