This page provides an overview of the actions that Maryland state agencies are taking to support adaptation efforts at the local level. These actions include providing mapping tools and information, technical assistance and planning grants, and outreach and communication efforts.
Assessing Local Needs
Maryland’s 2011 Plan recommends that a needs assessment be conducted to determine the information and training needs of local decisionmakers to support adaptation. At its May 2017 meeting, the Maryland Adaptation and Response Working Group received local government feedback on adaptation planning needs from the Maryland Association of Counties (MACo) and Maryland Municipal League (MML), who had surveyed their county and municipal constituents using questions provided by the state Departments of Natural Resources (DNR) and Planning (MDP). Also in 2017, MDP provided assistance to DNR by reviewing and analyzing all county comprehensive plans in Maryland to determine the level of integration of adaptation planning and to identify the types of climate change hazards addressed. This review will identify the regions of Maryland and the types of climate change hazards where the state could focus its adaptation planning assistance.
Programs Supporting Local Resilience
Maryland agencies support many different resilience planning efforts at the local level. In particular, the CoastSmart Community Resilience Program provides grants for communities to incorporate coastal hazards into long-term planning, codes and ordinances, permitting, and other programs. Since 2016, DNR added a new "Green Infrastructure Resiliency" track to this grant program, which awards grants for green infrastructure projects to address localized flooding from more frequent and intense rain events in addition to grants for coastal resilience projects (see DNR’s 2018 Request for Proposals). To do so, DNR combining funding sources from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. DNR also developed a CoastSmart Communities Scorecard to help local communities assess their vulnerabilities and level of resilience to sea-level rise and coastal hazards. The scorecard includes a series of detailed questions relating to different planning areas (land use, hazard mitigation, emergency response and disaster preparedness, infrastructure, natural resources, and more), and identifies resources to assist communities with these processes. The Maryland Resiliency Partnership — an interagency state-level group that works to better integrate floodplain management, hazard mitigation, and coastal resilience practices — has hosted meetings for local governments and community groups to inform them about programs and resources related to resilience. The Maryland Historical Trust launched a multi-year “Weather It Together” program to provide technical assistance to flood-prone historic communities, based on the City of Annapolis’s planning effort to address sea-level rise and other natural hazards especially in regards to the city’s many historical sites. An interactive tool, Landmark at Risk: Protecting the Historic Seaport of Annapolis, Maryland, highlights how the city's many historical sites factor in to planning efforts. The state also announced in 2018 that it is launching a Climate Leadership Academy to support communities and the private sector in planning and implementing initiatives to prepare for climate change impacts.
Agencies have also developed planning guidance documents to help local governments integrate adaptation and resilience into required planning processes. As reported in the Coast Smart Council’s 2016 Annual Report, the Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) developed local Hazard Mitigation Plan guidance to help local governments update their plans, and included recommendations on how to integrate resiliency and climate change. Additionally, the Maryland Department of Planning (MDP) and the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy worked together to develop a model Coastal Resilience Comprehensive Plan Element for local governments. The City of Cambridge piloted this approach with a grant from the Department of Natural Resources. The Maryland Critical Area Commission also completed a Coastal Resilience Planning Guide for municipalities and worked with the Town of Oxford to help evaluate how it could better integrate resilience into its Local Critical Area Program.
As indicated in the Maryland Commission on Climate Change's 2016 Annual Report, MDP’s regional planners assist local governments by helping to develop grant applications for funding to support adaptation planning at the local level, and providing technical assistance to support the development of plans and implementation of adaptation projects. For example, MDP’s regional planners helped Somerset County obtain a $50,000 grant from DNR to implement the Smith Island Vision Plan. The grant will fund a comprehensive drainage assessment of Smith Island and recommend drainage improvements, such as green infrastructure techniques.
Data and Tools
Maryland also maintains mapping tools that help local governments understand climate-related risks and valuable ecological areas. For example, Maryland's Coastal Atlas incorporates data layers to help users understand risks relating to sea-level rise, storm surge, and erosion (e.g., sea-level rise inundation zones, 50-year erosion vulnerable zones, Category 2 storm surge inundation zones, marsh transition zones). Maryland’s online iMAP infrastructure provides a range of other environmental mapping tools to help users assess stream health and identify valuable ecological areas and areas in need of stormwater management projects, among other uses.
Outreach and Community Engagement
Maryland continues to work on outreach and communication efforts as well, to develop coordinated messaging and effectively communicate to residents, businesses, and other stakeholders regarding climate change — particularly to meet the needs of low-income and under-served populations. Other projects have focused on community engagement to improve residents’ understanding of coastal flood risks and generate feedback on possible adaptation strategies. For example, DNR and other partners are gathering community input from residents of Deal Island on adaptation and restoration projects through the Deal Island Peninsula Project (which is developing a community resilience assessment of the physically and socially vulnerable Deal Island Peninsula).
(Research last updated: July 16, 2018).