BOEM and Maryland Sign Agreement to Evaluate Sand Resources for Coastal Resilience and Restoration Planning

05-29-2014 WASHINGTON

Contact: Marjorie Weisskohl
703-787-1304

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 Maryland signed a two-year cooperative agreement totaling $200,000 to evaluate sand resources for coastal resilience and restoration planning. The agreement will help BOEM and Maryland conduct research that will assist coastal communities recovering from Hurricane Sandy, restore habitat, increase our knowledge of sand resources offshore, and contribute to long-term coastal resilience planning efforts.

Under this agreement, the Maryland Geological Survey of the Department of Natural Resources will evaluate and consolidate its 30 years of offshore data to create seafloor classification maps. These maps will identify and locate potential areas of sand resources, as well as benthic habitat. The overall goal is to have available geologic and benthic habitat resources accessible for planners and managers.

“This agreement demonstrates BOEM’s commitment to work with Maryland to help coastal communities recover from Hurricane Sandy and enhance 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.”

The Maryland Geological Survey and BOEM have worked together on sand resource projects since1992.

“We sincerely thank President Obama and BOEM for supporting Maryland’s continuous efforts to protect coastal resources vital to our state’s safety, environmental health and economic prosperity,” said Department of Natural Resources Secretary Joseph Gill. “This funding will help protect our citizens and visitors from future storms, prevent damage to sensitive ecological areas, and help us better understand and respond to coastal threats.”

BOEM scientists will assist Maryland 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 Maryland 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 Maryland’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).

Since Hurricane Sandy struck, BOEM has been working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, other members of the Federal government’s Hurricane Sandy Task Force, state coastal planning agencies, state geological surveys and other entities to analyze the needs for coastal restoration and to develop restoration plans.

BOEM has the authority to convey, on a noncompetitive basis, the rights to resources for shore protection, beach or wetland restoration projects, or for use in construction projects funded in whole or part, or authorized by the federal government. In exercising this authority, BOEM may issue a negotiated non-competitive lease agreement for the use of OCS sand to a qualifying entity.

Over the past 20 years, BOEM has invested more than $30 million to identify non-energy resources on the OCS, conduct world-class scientific research, and lease OCS resources to coastal communities in need. Information from environmental research and resource identification has informed environmental assessment and leasing decisions concerning the use of OCS sand resources in beach nourishment and coastal restoration. For more information on BOEM's Marine Minerals Program, visit: http://www.boem.gov/MarineMineralsProgram.

BOEM promotes energy independence, environmental protection and economic development through responsible, science-based management of offshore conventional and renewable energy and marine mineral resources.