MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCBD) – South Carolina could receive $15.5 million to make its communities and economy more resilient to climate change.

The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced Friday that the U.S. Department of Commerce has recommended the grant for projects across South Carolina as part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s Climate-Ready Coasts initiative.

Eight projects across the Palmetto State will create jobs and boost economic and environmental outcomes for coastal communities, according to NOAA.

“Equity is at the core of everything we do at the Department of Commerce, so I am proud to recommend funding for projects that will support community-based efforts to restore wildlife habitats, improve water quality, and create jobs in the communities that are served,” said Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo.

The Climate-Ready Coasts initiative is focused on investing in high-impact projects that create climate solutions by storing carbon; build resilience to coastal hazards such as extreme weather events, pollution and marine debris; restore coastal habitats that help wildlife and humans thrive; build the capacity of underserved communities and support community-driven restoration; and provide employment opportunities.

“From extreme flooding to shoreline erosion and habitat loss, the climate crisis is wreaking havoc on our coastal communities,” said Congressman James Clyburn (SC-06). “This latest round of Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act funding will allow NOAA to invest in various projects across South Carolina, including climate resiliency and restoration efforts along the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor. These recommendations will help protect our coastal economy and improve the quality of life for local residents who bear the brunt of this crisis.”

Recommended projects and funding amounts in South Carolina include:

(The below list is posted as provided by NOAA)

Transforming the Scale and Equity of Living Shorelines in South Carolina
The Nature Conservancy: $6.2 million
Funding Source: Transformational Habitat Restoration and Coastal Resilience Grants
This investment will expand and significantly scale up the use of nature-based solutions for coastal resilience along the entire coastline of South Carolina. This work includes accelerating existing habitat efforts to prioritize and implement living shoreline projects in underserved communities, developing a plan to address statewide coastal risks in using large-scale nature-based solutions, and implementing a living shoreline demonstration project at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort. The project will partner with the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor to support an ongoing community ambassadors program, which will contribute to the long term buy-in and installation of living shoreline projects. An array of recreationally and commercially valuable fish species will benefit from the coastal habitat improvement. 

South Carolina’s Black River State Park Land Conservation Project in Georgetown County
South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control: $4.5 million
Funding Source: Coastal Zone Management Habitat Protection and Restoration Grants
This investment will allow conservation partners to conserve 1,800 acres of key floodplain properties within two coastal counties. The area will allow for recreational uses compatible with habitat protection, including fishing, non-motorized boating, birding, hiking, biking, kayaking, camping, picnicking, and environmental education. 

From Blue-Gray to Blue-Green: Facilitating the Transition to Non-Plastic Natural Material Use Within the Coastal Zone Economy
South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium: $2.6 million
Funding Source: Marine Debris Challenge Competition
This investment will catalyze the replacement of plastics with natural materials in South Carolina and the Southeast United States, including those used in coastal restoration, water quality protection and aquaculture initiatives, via testing from lab to mesocosm to field pilot scales, leveraging regional partnerships and community linkages for maximum impact. This project aims to strengthen connections between displaced/disenfranchised African American communities and coastal environmental sectors, enhance Historically Black Colleges and Universities’ research and educational capacity, inform K-12 students regarding  plastics pollution in South Carolina, and develop the next generation of cutting-edge environmental professionals.

Improving the Resilience of Salt Marsh Ecosystems within the ACE Basin through the Creation of Intertidal Oyster Reef Habitat
South Carolina Department of Natural Resource: $620,00
Funding Source: National Estuarine Research Reserve System Habitat Protection and Restoration Grants
This project will address salt marsh erosion and habitat loss, and generate essential fish habitat, by creating intertidal oyster reefs within the ACE Basin National Estuarine Research Reserve. The project will also promote salt marsh stewardship by engaging various stakeholder groups, including the use of volunteers, in the project implementation efforts. 

Capacity Expansion to Support Habitat Restoration and Resilience in the Gullah Geechee Corridor  
Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor: $536,000
Funding Source: Coastal Habitat Restoration and Resilience Grants for Underserved Communities
The Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor will create new staff positions to expand their work creating a plan for restoration and resilience across the Corridor, which stretches from North Carolina through Florida. The new positions will help build relationships between restoration organizations and Gullah Geechee communities, identify the resilience priorities of community members, and form local advisory committees to support future restoration efforts. 

Co-creating Inclusive Community Resilience with Nature-based Solutions in the Coastal Carolinas
National Audubon Society: $499,000
Funding Source: Coastal Habitat Restoration and Resilience Grants for Underserved Communities
The National Audubon Society will work with coastal communities to identify and propose nature-based solutions that increase resilience to extreme weather and climate change. They will collaboratively create a suite of proposed projects that address the goals and challenges of Awendan and McClellanville, South Carolina, and Columbia and Tyrrell County, North Carolina. They will also hire community planners to support the process and help coordinate future restoration. 

Gullah/Geechee CREATE: Coastal Debris Removal Engaging Artists through Environmental Cleanups
South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium: $299,000
Funding Source: Marine Debris Community Action Coalitions
This project will result in multiple community-based clean-up efforts across Gullah/Geechee communities in South Carolina. Cleanup event attendees will gain scientific literacy through collecting and entering marine debris data. The marine debris collected at these events will then be converted into artwork by local Gullah/Geechee artists, and subsequent showcase events will highlight the art installations in concert with marine debris education opportunities. Partners include the Gullah/Geechee Nation, the Gullah Geechee Chamber Foundation, and the Gullah Preservation Society.

The Lowcountry NETwork: Building a Coalition of Community Members, Shrimpers, Educators, and Conservationists to Remove and Recycle Marine Debris
South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium: $299,000
Funding Source: Marine Debris Community Action Coalitions
Trawl to Trash, an existing, successful Sea Grant program, engages the public in stewardship activities that educate communities about the impacts of marine debris and encourage use of upcycled stow bags made by commercial shrimpers from  nets that would have been discarded to prevent littering, and to collect and remove debris from waterways. This investment seeks to expand the program to additional communities that have commercial shrimping activity, to enhance education and outreach capacity, and to sustain a successful program with existing community partners while fostering new collaborations across South Carolina and Georgia coasts, including communities within the Gullah Geechee National Cultural Heritage Corridor, which is a federal National Heritage Area. Partners include University of Georgia Marine Extension, Georgia Sea Grant, and the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor. 

“Climate change is impacting South Carolina’s coastal ecosystems and the communities that depend on them, bringing impacts like rising sea levels and more frequent flooding,” said Rick Spinrad, Ph.D., NOAA administrator. “This funding will help address these risks– with new partners offering valuable perspectives and an emphasis on equity – and build climate-smart solutions that will make South Carolina prepared for the future.”

These projects are part of NOAA’s nearly $6 billion total investment under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act.