By Carol Vaughn —
A study of the impacts of climate change on agriculture on the Eastern Shore was among 19 projects awarded grants through a new state program financed by the sale of carbon emission allowances.The Accomack-Northampton Planning District Commission was awarded $47,121 for the study, which will look at the impact of climate change on crop planning and production.
Gov. Ralph Northam on Oct. 5 announced $7.8 million in grants to support 19 local projects that address impacts of flooding, sea-level rise, and extreme weather statewide.
The application was not fully funded, but the purpose is to pay for having an agricultural professional and advisory committee evaluate new rainfall modeling data in Virginia.
“The data shows a total increase in rainfall. To refine this, we need to know the seasonal pattern and intensity for it to be useful as a planning tool,” said Elaine Meil, ANPDC executive director, in an email.
Meil said there are three major goals: to assess the impact of intense rainfall and flooding on the Eastern Shore’s agricultural sector; to examine how the growing zone will be impacted in the future; and to provide planning information to inform local officials and industry members about future conditions that could impact crop planning and production on the Eastern Shore.
The grants are the first to be awarded through the Virginia Community Flood Preparedness Fund, according to a press release.
The General Assembly and the governor established the fund in 2020 to help communities build resilience to the impacts of climate change, including floods, with targeted funding going to vulnerable and underserved communities.
The fund is financed by the sale of carbon emission allowances under the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. Virginia joined the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative in January 2021.
“Virginians have experienced the devastating effects of flooding over and over again,” said Northam. “Without strong investments in resiliency, we will continue to see more of the same. The Community Flood Preparedness Fund grants are so important because they will jumpstart projects in more than a dozen localities, including some that have been impacted by recent disasters.”
The Community Flood Preparedness Fund is allocated 45% of the revenue Virginia generates through the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. An estimated $75 million per year will be available through the matching grant program.
At least 25% of the money each year must be used for projects in low-income geographic areas. For this grant cycle, 48%, or $3.7 million, of the total was allocated to projects in those areas.
The program prioritizes projects that utilize nature-based solutions.
“Nature-based solutions often are the most effective and affordable ways of mitigating flood damage,” said Secretary of Natural and Historic Resources Ann Jennings. “These strategies also can improve water quality and wildlife habitat. It’s exciting that more than half the projects being funded in this first round of Community Flood Preparedness grants will incorporate nature-based solutions into flood mitigation.”
Provisions of the Community Flood Preparedness Fund align with the forthcoming Virginia Coastal Resilience Master Plan, which enables the state government to prioritize and finance climate adaptation programs equitably across all communities in the coastal plain.
“New and robust funding strategies, such as those provided through the Community Flood Preparedness Fund, will be essential to achieving the goals identified through the Coastal Resilience Master Plan,” said Special Assistant to the Governor for Coastal Adaptation and Protection Ann C. Phillips.
The fund is administered by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation.
A second grant cycle closes on November 5. More information is available at https://www.dcr.virginia.gov/dam-safety-and-floodplains/dsfpm-cfpf