- Associated Press - Monday, June 16, 2014

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - Rhode Island will receive $7.5 million in Superstorm Sandy funds for coastal restoration projects and to help prepare the state for future storms and the impact of climate change, Sen. Jack Reed announced Monday.

Five Rhode Island projects will receive a total of $7,020,000 to help restore marshes, wetlands and beaches, rebuild shorelines, and study storm surge impacts. Rhode Island also will share $2,060,000 with several other states to improve storm damage resiliency and preparedness for future extreme storms.

The funds come from the U.S. Department of the Interior, which received more than 375 proposals nationwide for a total of $568 million for the competitive Sandy Coastal Resiliency Grants.

“These grants will help protect residents from future storms and enable communities to plan and implement a number of natural infrastructure projects,” Reed said in a statement. “We need to work together to make our cities, towns and critical habitat more resilient to coastal hazards, hurricanes, flooding and sea level rise.”

The Rhode Island programs that won competitive grants, which are administered by the U.S. National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, are:

-Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council: $3,250,000 to restore and enhance roughly 30 acres of degraded salt marsh habitat within the Ninigret Pond barrier and coastal lagoon complex.

-Town of Middletown: $2,320,000 for the Sachuest Bay Coastal Resiliency Project. It will improve the Sachuest Bay/Maidford River area by doing such things as improving water quality, fish and wildlife habitat, and natural infrastructure such as beach dunes.

-University of Rhode Island: $870,000 for the university’s coastal resiliency project, including a detailed baseline of the south shore area of Rhode Island.

-University of Rhode Island: $400,000 for a project which will focus on three coastal communities - the cities of Newport and Warwick and the town of North Kingstown - which are trying to find ways to incorporate green infrastructure techniques and principles into their local planning.

-Narragansett Indian Tribe: $180,000 to conduct a natural resource assessment and action plan to assess forest health, natural resources, and water resources for tribal lands.

Rhode Island also will receive a share of federal funding from four other multi-state projects.

Reed, chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior & Environment, and members of the state’s Congressional delegation so far have helped direct an estimated $130 million in support from federal disaster relief programs to help Rhode Island recover from Sandy.

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