BOEM and Rhode Island Ink Cooperative Agreement

BOEM and Rhode Island Ink Cooperative Agreement
Following Hurricane Sandy,Atlantic Avenue in the town of Westerly was covered with four feet of sand.

As a part of President Obama’s continuing commitment to help coastal communities recover from Hurricane Sandy and promote resilient coastal systems, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and the State of Rhode Island have signed a two-year cooperative agreement totaling $200,000 to evaluate sand resources for coastal resilience and restoration planning.

Under this agreement, the University of Rhode Island, with advisory support from the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC), will map the geology of selected areas offshore. These maps will be used to identify and locate potential areas of sand resources, as well as benthic habitat.

The study will also integrate information from the ongoing Rhode Island CRMC Shoreline Change Special Area Management Plan to estimate sand resource needs, and the Rhode Island-BOEM Submerged Paleocultural Landscapes study to identify and protect habitat and cultural resources within potential borrow areas. The overall goal is to identify available geologic, benthic habitat and cultural resources, and make them accessible for planners and managers.

“This agreement demonstrates BOEM’s commitment to work with Rhode Island to help coastal communities enhance coastal resilience efforts for the future,” said BOEM Acting Director Walter Cruickshank. “We are committed to continuing to work in a collaborative manner to help local communities withstand damage from future storms.”

This is the beginning of much needed work to learn if offshore sand resources are a viable option for Rhode Island,” said Grover Fugate, Executive Director of the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council.It will require not only the survey work we hope to conduct, but also environmental studies to determine if this material could be extracted without detriment to the environment and the fishing industry, which depends on these waters and bottom environments. We want to do this work and be prepared in advance of any need created by major storm or sea level rise so that it is done in a thoughtful and reasoned way.”

BOEM scientists will assist Rhode Island in identifying areas to study for future geophysical and geological surveys, with the purpose of confirming previously identified resources and locating new potential areas of sand resources. BOEM will also help Rhode Island develop tools to more readily share sand resource data with other agencies involved in coastal resilience planning.

Such activities are essential for reducing potential storm damage to the residents, economies, and infrastructure of Rhode Island’s coastal areas. Research funded under this agreement will help ensure that activities, including offshore dredging and beach nourishment, are conducted in a sustainable manner that is compatible with natural sediment transport and biological processes, as well as stakeholder interests.

This agreement is part of a series of partnerships with coastal Atlantic states using part of the $13.6 million allocated to BOEM through the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013. The research will help to identify sand and gravel resources that are appropriate for coastal protection and restoration along the entire Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf (OCS).

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Press Release, July 30, 2014

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