BRUNSWICK, Maine — The town of Brunswick has been awarded nearly $40,000 for a community project to install fencing to help reduce the number of European green crabs decimating the softshell clam population in area coves.
The award, one of six totalling $150,305, was announced Thursday by the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry.
The town, working with the Brunswick High School service learning program and Community Outreach and Resource International, will install predator fencing and traps in Buttermilk and Woodward coves, hoping to reduce the numbers of the invasive crabs that harvesters and scientists say are devouring softshell clams and destroying wading bird, finfish and shellfish habitat.
“It’s important for coastal communities to recognize the changes in their nearshore ecosystems,” said Dan Devereaux, Marine Resource Warden for the town of Brunswick. “Because I’m not sure we can affect climate change on a local level. One thing we can do is develop adaptation strategies that may lead to restoration of not only shellfish, but the entire nearshore habitats that have been impacted, particularly invasive crabs. We need to really focus on adaptation.”
Other funding includes:
— $15,863 to the city of Augusta for the final design of restoring a historical alewife run of significance to the Lower Kennebec. The project will re-establish alewife access to the Togus Stream lake system upstream of the Lower Togus Pond Dam through construction of a fishway at the dam.
— $14,250 to the town of Bristol to plan the restoration of Pemaquid River Alewife. The project will re-establish unhindered alewife access through the Bristol Mills Dam Fishway and into the Pemaquid River chain of lakes, according to a release.
— $30,262 to the town of Woolwich for Nequasset Fishway construction material. The project is the final step to rebuild a 58-year-old concrete pool and weir-style fish ladder on one of the top alewife runs in Maine by the summer of 2014.
— $20,000 to the town of Damariscotta for a downtown coastal hazards preliminary engineering study, designed to protect the downtown from flooding, storm surges and rising seas.
— $26,000 to the Washington County Council of Governments for the project Working Waterfronts Preparing for Climate Change, to add working waterfront wharves and piers as a specific asset to climate vulnerability assessments in six Washington County towns, according to the release.
The grants are funded by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration and administered through the DACF Municipal Planning and Assistance Program. Each grantee will provide a minimum of 25 percent in matching funds or services, according to the release.
“Our Maine Coastal Program Grants help communities address natural resource concerns including habitat restoration, storm surge, and, in the case of the Brunswick project, the threat invasive green crabs pose to commercial fisheries,” DACF Commissioner Walt Whitcomb said in the release.