These giant concrete balls, called Reef Balls, will help manage the erosion in Stratford. In the foreground, damage dune is apparent.
These giant concrete balls, called Reef Balls, were designed to help manage erosion in Stratford in 2014. In the foreground, dune damage is apparent. Jan Ellen Spiegel

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration joined the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to award a record amount of coastal resilience grants recently.

Connecticut received three grants totaling $1.3 million to expand over a dozen natural coastal hardening and living shoreline projects. The state was awarded $613,000, West Haven was for $508,700 and $211,800 for Norwalk.

Katie Dykes, commissioner for the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, said nature can play its part in protecting communities.

“Often people are thinking of gray infrastructure solutions such as sea walls and levies and other types of those kinds of hard investments, but actually there’s enormous amounts of potential for us to use green infrastructure by enhancing salt marshes and using other natural solutions to help improve coastal resilience, and this is what we’ll be doing with these funds,” Dykes said.

Twenty-nine states across the nation will receive grants totaling $136 million to help them invest in projects that will help communities prepare for increased coastal flooding and more intense storms, while improving thousands of acres of coastal habitats.

New York also received funding for three projects, including in Queens and Montauk.

The town of East Hampton, N.Y., received $350,000 — matched by $360,000, possibly from the town or the state — to draw preliminary designs of living shorelines in lake Montauk and Fort Pond to mitigate impacts of shoreline erosion and severe flooding.

The proposal said, “projects will engage and educate the community and local committees to determine effective locations and types of living shorelines most compatible with the Town of East Hampton.”

The environmental organization Save the Sound was awarded just over $2.3 million to help stabilize eroding shoreline in Udalls Cove in Queens.

Katie Friedman, the group’s New York ecological restoration program manager, said the local community helped come up with the winning project.

“The Douglas Manor Community worked really hard to come up with these designs for a living shoreline project, and so we’re really thrilled to be able to bring this into implementation. This project will restore four acres of salt marsh, point-two acres of oyster reef habitat and not only will we be restoring this aquatic habitat, but it will be protecting the shoreline against sea level rise and coastal storms,” Friedman said.

This story was first published on Dec. 6, 2022, by WSHU.