5: The Importance of Collaboration and Partnerships

Alignment with State and Maine Climate Council Strategies and Community Actions (Community Resilience Partnership)

  • Engage Maine People:
    • E1 – Establish or recognize an official committee of community stakeholders.
  • Increase public awareness of climate change impacts and opportunities to take action:
    • E2 – Create a climate change education, outreach, and engagement program, focusing on mitigation and adaptation for residents and businesses.
    • E3 – Amplify public health advisories for climate-related health and weather events, such as air quality advisories, extreme heat or cold events, extreme storms, power outages, waterborne disease outbreaks, harmful algal blooms, vector-borne disease trends, etc.
    • E4 – Engage youth in resilience, clean energy, and energy use reduction.
    • E5 – Engage populations that are vulnerable to climate impacts in resilience, clean energy, and GHG emissions reduction.
  • Engage the business community and recognize climate leadership:
    • E6 – Create and support an energy reduction campaign or challenge among businesses.
    • E7 – Initiate a community bulk purchasing program with a vendor, or vendors, to provide low-cost equipment such as heat pumps and solar for interested residents and businesses.
  • Strategy F: Build Healthy and Resilient Communities
  • Strategy H: Engage with Maine People and Communities about Climate Impacts and Program Opportunities

Building relationships and collaboration within a community is essential for successful climate adaptation. Adaptation success hinges on regional collaboration to expedite the implementation of tested solutions and to avoid maladaptation. Working collectively can reduce overall costs and time for policy and program implementation. Collaborative frameworks also provide leaders with access to successful models, so they do not have to reinvent.

Furthermore, it is well documented that climate changes are disproportionately impacting vulnerable populations and exacerbating underlying inequities. Equity is critically important and must be a central consideration in public engagement and decision-making. By working with community members directly, shared solutions can be charted which increase the likelihood of removing inequities or at minimum reduce the likelihood of actions that could further exacerbate them.

Inclusive collaborations can also support participatory budget processes, bringing together community officials with residents and business owners in planning and project scoping and design, so when the final budget vote does happen on a specific project that was years in the making, there might also be a higher likelihood of financing or funding support getting approved. And finally, collaborative efforts are a way to expand resources and can help increase capacity of staffing and funding, which are the most common underlying barriers to implementing climate actions in Maine.14

5.1 Outreach

Whether your community is addressing climate adaptation through existing avenues or a new plan or regional partnership, community engagement is key to understanding local perceptions, beliefs, and knowledge. This section outlines key steps in the process to effective stakeholder participation. Much of this content is derived from a publication by the NOAA Coastal Services Center, Introduction to Stakeholder Participation, 2015 (NOAA Office of Coastal Management Digital Coast), which can be downloaded online.

Once a project or process has been identified, one of the first steps is to consider when stakeholder participation is needed. There are a number of approaches, from scoping before a project starts, to incremental outreach events throughout the course of a project, and final meetings to report out or make decisions. It is important to consider the time and materials needed, as well as what data or information resources are necessary for informed participation.15

The second step is to identify stakeholders, which are generally defined as anyone who has an interest in or is affected by a decision. Conducting a thorough stakeholder analysis can help identify who the stakeholders are for a particular issue, as well as start to identify what their positions and interests are on the issue. A stepwise approach to conducting a stakeholder analysis is included in a NOAA publication, Social Science Tools for Coastal Programs: Introduction to Stakeholder Participation (NOAA) (PDF).

The third step is to define the process elements of your stakeholder engagement plan. There are a number of approaches that can be considered to tailor your project. Table 4 highlights key features and process elements, which are described further in the NOAA publication.

Table 4: Features and Process Elements of Successful Participatory Processes

Features Process Elements
Active participant involvement
  • Opportunity for involvement
  • Early involvement
  • Motivated participants
  • Influence over the final decision
Decisions based on complete information
  • Best available information exchange
  • Constructive dialogue
  • Adequate analysis
Fair decision-making
  • Transparency
  • Representative participation
Efficient administration
  • Cost-effective
  • Accessible
  • Limited influence of sponsor
Positive participant interaction
  • Positive social conditions
  • Constructive personal behavior
  • Social learning
Dalton 2005 as cited in NOAA 2015

Before starting any community engagement process, it is important to decide how public input will be utilized in decision-making and project implementation and to ensure clear communication with participants.

Once stakeholder audiences have been identified, there are numerous methods to solicit input. Each method has its applications for different issues and considerations for accommodating diverse stakeholders. Methods range from interviews, open houses, surveys, public hearings, workshops, field trips, and even more formal referendum. The NOAA publication Social Science Tools for Coastal Programs: Introduction to Stakeholder Participation (NOAA) (PDF) summarizes common stakeholder participation techniques.

Once a plan to engage stakeholders has been carried out, it is important to evaluate the success and outcomes of the outreach initiative. There are many examples of criteria, and the NOAA publication describes the two more common categories: process criteria, which relate to the strength of process elements in a stakeholder participation process; and outcome criteria, which relate to the outcomes of results of stakeholder participation.

In summary, it is important to follow the steps outlined in this section as you are developing your stakeholder engagement plan for a particular project. This type of work takes more time and planning, although if conducted properly, should yield more inclusive, informed and thoughtful results. As this work is conducted, there are additional tips and techniques in this training resource on planning and facilitating effective meetings on the Introduction to Stakeholder Participation, 2015 (NOAA Office of Coastal Management Digital Coast).

5.2 Community Workshops

If part of the community outreach includes workshops, this section includes questions municipalities and service providers can consider during the planning process. The five general questions that stakeholders can address in the workshop during discussions are as follows:

  • Are there critical nodes in the lifeline functions of your community that could be affected by climate change?
  • Are there critical dependencies or interdependencies that could be affected by the projected impacts of climate change?
  • Does your community have existing climate change adaptation plans or strategies?
  • What are the barriers that prevent active and effective adaptation planning in your community?
  • What does your community need to move forward with its adaptation planning efforts?

Specific questions that can be used during workshop discussions are included in Appendix C Example Questions for Community Workshops.

5.3 Case Studies of Maine Community Collaborations

The case studies described in this section include a diversity of collaborative initiatives, from multi-town and regional resource-intensive projects to projects in individual and rural towns with more limited capacity. Each case study highlights the purpose of the initiative, the process used, and the lessons learned. The approach that each town takes needs to be tailored to the community needs, availability of resources (staffing, committees/volunteers, and funding), and the level of vulnerability (perceived and/or real).

5.3.1. Neighboring: Portland/South Portland – One Climate Future

The Cities of Portland and South Portland collaborated on an 18-month process to develop One Climate Future website, a roadmap for climate action. The process entailed significant community outreach and engagement, volunteers, a number of municipal staff, a Climate Planning Process Committee as well as a team of consultants. Chapter 3 of the One Climate Future: Charting a Course for Portland and South Portland, January 2021 (PDF) details more about the process and how it was developed.

The Sustainability Managers for each city, Troy Moon, and Julie Rosenbach shared feedback on the overall process for other towns interested in this approach. They stressed the importance of teamwork between the state, cities, homeowners, and other stakeholders. There were synergies to working with neighboring towns, and found it was not ‘’twice the work.” Their framing for this initiative was a “people-based plan” around maintaining the great quality of life into 2050, rather than an infrastructure and energy systems adaptation plan. Their extensive survey work indicated significant support from community members and the respective town councils also supported this initiative. As resilience has a different meaning for different communities, they stressed the importance of defining ‘resilience’ for your community. The Cities of Portland and South Portland received external grant funding to support the consultants they hired. However, they mentioned that a town does not have to spend tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars to develop a similar plan, as there are many resources that municipalities can draw from and not start from scratch.

The cities are now working towards implementing recommendations from the report through various avenues, including comprehensive plan updates, land use planning and developing resilience overlay zones, and installing high water mark signage throughout the cities.

5.3.2. Multiple towns: GOPIF Community Resilience Pilot Projects

Maine’s four-year climate action plan, Maine Won’t Wait, recommended enhancing state support for communities to build climate resilience, such as by adopting official sea-level rise projections, incorporating climate change in land-use planning, and strengthening public-health monitoring, education, and prevention. Eight Maine communities were selected by the Governor’s Office of Policy, Innovation and the Future (GOPIF) to participate in pilot projects for local climate resilience planning, to help them prepare for the effects of climate change and develop climate planning models for towns and cities in Maine. The selected pilot projects are partnerships among the following communities and organizations.16 The approach for each project is described in this section.

Windham and Bridgton, with the Greater Portland Council of Governments

The Municipal Operations Review and Resilience Standard Setting project in Bridgton and Windham consists of a detailed review of relevant and significant town operational documents (for example, sections of comprehensive plans, key ordinances related to development, capital improvement plans), and identification of key policies, plans, or processes that are ideal for including climate resilience considerations. These operational documents will be prioritized by town staff and one or two key policies, plans, or processes will be selected for development of resilience standards or protocols. The standards or protocols will be developed using best practices and presented to town governing bodies for consideration.

The processes that municipal governments use to plan for future development, upgrade existing infrastructure, engage communities, and deliver services, are the levers by which change can be made. Creating protocols that standardize the consideration of climate change into decision-making will build resilience in Bridgton and Windham. Additionally, integrating them across departments and sectors will support goals identified in existing planning documents in both towns.

Harpswell, Phippsburg and West Bath, with the New England Environmental Finance Center and Casco Bay Estuary Partnership at the University of Southern Maine

The New England Environmental Finance Center (NEEFC) and Casco Bay Estuary Partnership (CBEP) partnered with the coastal towns of Harpswell, Phippsburg, and West Bath (together the ‘coastal cohort’) to prepare for the effects of climate change and secure initial funding for shared coastal resilience priorities. As leaders of small, peninsular communities reliant on natural resource economies and home to aging populations, town administrators and staff sought to better understand climate impacts like sea level rise, storm surge, flooding, and erosion and associated adaptation strategies and funding sources.

Over six months, CBEP and New England EFC piloted a three-part workshop series with the coastal cohort to identify community assets (physical, ecological, social), understand local climate-related hazards, vulnerabilities, and risks affecting those assets, and brainstorm and prioritize actions that build community resilience. Workshops included opportunities to hear directly from community members representing local conservation commissions, land trusts, and the shellfishing industry, as well as guest speakers on technical, scientific, planning, and funding-related topics and approaches. In parallel to the workshops, each town worked through a step-by-step vulnerability and risk assessment tool adapted from the U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit to produce a prioritized list of vulnerable community assets, which informed subsequent town-specific and cohort-wide adaptation strategies and project ideas.

Participating in this facilitated process formed new relationships and established a foundation for regional collaboration, which led the three towns to craft a joint proposal for funding to advance shared priorities. The coastal cohort successfully secured funds from the Maine Governor’s Office of Policy Innovation and the Future for engineering services to assess three town landings/wharves and their vulnerability to current and projected sea level rise, storm surge, and King tide events to inform a maintenance and upgrade plan for improved resilience. Preliminary designs and cost estimates resulting from these analyses in September 2022 will position the towns to jointly seek additional state or federal funding for implementation, with assistance from New England EFC and CBEP.

Caribou, Washburn, and Fort Fairfield, with the Northern Maine Development Commission and The Nature Conservancy in Maine

The Northern Maine Development Commission (NMDC) subcontracted with The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and facilitated three Community Resilience Building (CRB) workshops and one regional roundtable in the central Aroostook region. The three communities benefiting from this project were Washburn, Caribou, and Fort Fairfield. A common feature is that they are all located in the Aroostook River watershed and the river is an integral part of their downtown.

The objectives of the CRB workshops were to identify top hazards; define current strengths and vulnerabilities; and identify and prioritize action steps that address land use, planning, and hazard mitigation efforts, among others, within each community. Emphasis was also directed to identifying societal needs and vulnerable populations that are impacted by the top hazards within the community. In addition, participants at each workshop had the opportunity to discuss infrastructural, societal, and environmental strengths and vulnerabilities and develop and prioritize actions that help to reinforce those strengths or reduce stated vulnerabilities. The CRB workshop also focused on ensuring that all participants were heard and contributed. This helped to strengthen relationships and trust, which are critical for the subsequent implementation of the prioritized actions from and across each of the three communities.

It is anticipated that prioritizing community actions will eventually lead to the development of, or amendment to, stronger comprehensive plans, ordinances, or capital investment plans. This aids in the development of infrastructure designed to reduce the impact of potential hazards which may lead to the identification of low-risk areas within each community where development should occur when paired with plans for sheltering and communication. During the process, this occurred while the Aroostook Emergency Management Agency worked with each community on early warning communication improvements.

Across all three communities, one of the prioritized action items was the loss of windbreaks along major transportation routes. Increasing wind events, particularly after winter storms, have created snow drifting issues, which cause road closures and strain winter road maintenance budgets. The lack of windbreaks also increases soil erosion and increased runoff that often carries agricultural chemicals. Municipalities need to adapt to public safety and environmental issues resulting from climate change. Because of our long winters, public works crews are well-prepared to handle normal snowstorms, and municipal budgets are well-funded for winter road maintenance. However, with changing winter weather patterns and changing conditions on the ground, these budgets are strained, public safety is compromised, personal injury has increased, and road closures are far more commonplace. The need to increase the number of windbreaks is paramount to assist with these issues.

In recent years, stronger winds from storms and their aftermath have created whiteout conditions. This is exacerbated by the region’s long expanses of open space, often with no

windbreaks. In a recent storm, Caribou, Fort Fairfield, and Washburn received a relatively small amount of snow (10-12 inches) but very high winds. Local, County, and State Police received over 400 calls for assistance ranging from personal injury accidents to stranded motorists.

Additionally, after-storm winds have caused public works departments to work overtime plowing areas that continually drift. This results in increased use of fuel and a shortening of equipment life expectancy. The goal of this project is to increase the number of windbreaks (living fences) in areas where snow drifting is occurring. It is also intended to reduce the resources and time needed to clear roads during windy but non-snow events.

More information from each of these pilot studies will be available on Maine.gov’s Governor’s Office of Policy Innovation and the Future (GOPIF) website when finalized.

5.3.3 Regional: Southern Maine Planning and Development Commission Regional Sustainability and Resilience Program

Southern Maine Planning and Development Commission Regional Sustainability and Resilience Program (SMPDC)’s Regional Sustainability and Resilience Pilot Program works to foster more sustainable and resilient communities by leveraging regional collaboration to enhance the effectiveness of local government action. This pilot Program started in 2019, and now SMPDC is leading several projects and initiatives described in this section.

SMPDC is working with ten communities to develop a regional resilience plan. This initiative builds off of a vulnerability assessment conducted with six towns: Kittery, Kennebunk, Kennebunkport, Ogunquit, Wells, and York. The Program conducted a comprehensive assessment of individual town and regional actions taken to date to establish a baseline of sustainability and coastal resilience efforts. Each of the towns was evaluated using the same strategies and indicators. Results and findings from this regional assessment are summarized in a report published in July 2021: Getting there from here: a baseline for advancing climate action in Southern Maine: Regional Sustainability and Resilience Program (SMPDC) (PDF). This report shares successful strategies for other towns embarking on similar initiatives. Review the report for more details and examples, although they found that municipalities tend to make more progress on actions when:

  • The action is incorporated into town long-term planning priorities
  • The town has a committee that advises, directs, and champions resiliency efforts
  • Outside funding is available for work on the action
  • Community partners support the town’s efforts

On the other side of the equation, they found that there are common barriers and challenges that limit the towns’ ability to implement actions, including:

  • Lack of municipal staff expertise, capacity, and training on sustainability and resilience principles
  • Low community engagement/participation
  • Insufficient outside funding
  • Lack of technical expertise and guidance
  • Minimal State guidance and directives
  • Limited municipal budgets
  • Low prioritization of issues by municipal governing bodies
  • Resistance to regulatory approaches

SMPDC, along with project partners at Wells Reserve, GEI Consultants, and Rbouvier Consulting developed Tides, Taxes and New Tactics: Planning for Sea Level Rise and Coastal Adaptation in Southern Maine (SMPDC). This project is investigating municipal-level economic and social impacts of sea level rise and storm surge hazards and developing locally relevant adaptation and resiliency planning strategies that address local and regional vulnerabilities.17 The project uses local sea level rise projections, storm surge modeling, municipal geospatial data, and population and demographic information to complete a GIS-based socio-economic vulnerability assessment of coastal flood hazards.

The assessment is generating valuable information about flooding impacts on coastal property and populations, the assessed value of the impacted property, associated implications for the municipal tax base, and impacts on the local and regional economy. The assessment findings inform the development of locally relevant and tailored adaptation, mitigation, and resilience strategies that municipalities can employ to protect people, property, and natural resources from the impacts of coastal flooding now and into the future.

5.3.4 Regional: Climate Ready Casco Bay

The National Fish and Wildlife Fund (NFWF) Coastal Resilience project in the GPCOG region is a capacity-building and planning project that will engage 10-12 vulnerable Casco Bay coastal municipalities in a critically important collaborative planning initiative that will produce actionable resilience projects and address environmental, social, and economic issues from a regional perspective. Ultimately, one regional coastal resilience plan, plus a pipeline of individual green/nature-based resilience solutions will be produced that when implemented will reduce the impacts of climate change on habitats and communities.

5.3.5 Community Intertidal Data Portal

The Greater Portland Council of Governments and the Southern Maine Conservation Collaborative serve as fiscal agents for the Community Intertidal Data Portal (ArcGIS), which was created to make intertidal data and information more accessible, foster connections between communities with an interest in the intertidal, and promote a more nuanced understanding of issues within the nearshore environment of Casco Bay. The need for the Data Portal is to support communities as they adapt to the rapidly changing intertidal ecosystem due to the direct and indirect impacts of climate change. Providing these data in a centralized, up-to-date, and visual format will increase accessibility to information needed for planning in the intertidal zone. The primary goal of this project is to help inform municipal coastal planning and climate adaptation, with a focus on the intertidal ecosystem and shellfish conservation. The regional scale of this project in Casco Bay will serve as a template that could expand to other regions or coastwide in the future.18

5.3.6 Regional: Better Safe Than Sorry and Social Resilience

The Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve (WNERR) annually hosts the “Better Safe Than Sorry” workshop series — review Case Study: Annual “Better Safe Than Sorry” Workshop Series Inspires, Tracks Action (Resilience Metrics) (PDF) — bringing together representatives from ten Southern Maine coastal communities to learn from each other about how to plan and prepare for coastal storms, sea-level rise, and extreme weather events. The Reserve’s Coastal Training Program assists Southern Maine communities by tracking actions taken by local governments in an annually updated spreadsheet to show progress over time. When communities come together every fall, they learn of others’ efforts, discuss challenges, hear about the latest science, and learn new skills. In subtle ways, the action tracking nudges communities to “keep up with their neighbors.”

5.3.7 Regional: Social Resilience Project

The Nature Conservancy, Casco Bay Estuary Program, Wells Reserve, University of Maine’s Maine Sea Grant and Cooperative Extension, Blue Sky Planning Solutions, Kennebec Estuary Land Trust, and Bowdoin College are collaborating with local communities to increase social resilience from storm impacts.

With changing climate conditions, coastal Maine faces more frequent and more severe weather events that bring flooding, high wind impacts, and damage to road and electric infrastructure in our communities. There are community members and groups who, due to economic and/or social circumstances, will be at greater risk and have fewer resources to respond to and recover from storm impacts. The Social Resilience Project (Wells Reserve at Laudholm) creates dialogue and connections between groups that play a role in preparing for, responding to, and recovering from these events as well as supporting and reducing the impacts on our most vulnerable community members.

This project is focused on strengthening regional connections in eight communities: Harpswell, Brunswick, West Bath, Bath, Phippsburg, Georgetown, Arrowsic, and Woolwich.

5.3.8 Regional: Collaborating Towards Climate Solutions

Collaborating Towards Climate Solutions (CTCS), (Senator George J. Mitchell Center for Sustainability Solutions) began in June 2020 in Passamaquoddy Bay and western Penobscot Bay to address the community’s scarce resources for implementing climate resilience projects. The CTCS framework proceeds through a series of activities intended to first learn from communities about current climate change efforts and needs, and then respond to those needs with community-specific and regional responses. The three core objectives that guide the collaboration are to: (1) facilitate relationship building within and among communities and municipal officials, (2) respond to needs with resources and services, and (3) elevate needs for policy solutions. The overall goal is to build relationships at a sub-regional scale by engaging assistance providers to achieve longer-term sustainable community resilience.

Through CTCS, Islesboro and Camden completed Maine’s Flood Resilience Checklist. CTCS funded green infrastructure and tree planting efforts in Camden and Rockland, and there is ongoing work surrounding rain barrels and rain gardens with Vinalhaven and Rockland. GIS efforts through CTCS, in collaboration with Bowdoin College and UMaine Machias, include sea level rise story maps and work to map living shorelines suitability at municipal scales for local decision-making. Aspects of CTCS now continue through the service provider component of the Community Resilience Partnership, through continued student engagement in applied GIS services, through services with the Knox County Emergency Management Agency, and through ongoing collaboration with climate practitioners across various community climate efforts.

5.3.9 Regional Peninsula Tomorrow (Hancock County Planning Commission, HCPC)

Peninsula Tomorrow is a multi-town effort working for the future of the Blue Hill Peninsula. In 2021, communities began working together to address the issues of greenhouse gas emissions, climate change, sea level rise, and community resilience. Their mission is to identify the potential impact of climate change on the Blue Hill Peninsula and explore ways of maximizing mitigation and adaptation opportunities through interlocal cooperation.

Elected and appointed officials and community leaders of nine towns on the Blue Hill Peninsula in Hancock County — Blue Hill, Brooklin, Brooksville, Castine, Deer Isle, Penobscot, Sedgwick, Stonington, and Surry — meet monthly via Zoom as Peninsula Tomorrow. They explore inter-municipal initiatives to enhance energy efficiency and climate resilience. Since the beginning of Peninsula Tomorrow in May 2021, each meeting has featured presentations by subject-matter experts and discussions of state and federal funding opportunities. Congressional delegation representatives and state legislators participate in the monthly meetings.

Successes of the initiative include multi-town support that has helped secure state (and potentially additional congressionally directed spending) to upgrade a wastewater treatment facility that serves multiple regional community lifelines and an ongoing advocacy effort to accelerate and increase funding for infrastructure improvements to the flood-prone coastal roads and bridges. Mitigating wildfire risk in the town’s increasingly developed wildland-urban intermix is the objective of the town’s application for federal funding for a Community Wildfire Protection Plan.

5.3.10 Individual town – TBD

We seek a case study from a small, rural inland town.

5.3.11 Individual town – TBD

We seek a case study from an individual island or coastal community.

5.3.12 Nonprofit and Community Lead: Sierra Club’s Maine Climate Action Teams

Local Climate and Community Action Teams (Sierra Club) are organizing in Maine to implement specific climate actions. At the time of publication, there are over a dozen initiatives in various towns addressing issues from installing solar energy, to developing town energy efficiency plans and increasing or starting recycling programs.

5.3.13  Maine Climate Table

Founded in 2013, the Maine Climate Table is a broad, non-partisan partnership that includes participation from individuals and organizations from the business, nonprofit, philanthropic, and government sectors in Maine. The Climate Table’s vision is to create a state-based model for climate initiatives that increases broad civic engagement and leads to climate action. Their primary goal is to engage more people in community-based climate action that will collectively help to reduce climate-changing pollution, support adaptation to the changing conditions around us, and promote measures that will increase the resiliency of Maine’s communities and small businesses. The Climate table offers a number of workshops and webinars, as well as coordinating other projects.

5.3.14 A Climate to Thrive

A Climate to Thrive is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization working towards energy independence for Mount Desert Island by 2030 through decentralized, local, renewable energy solutions including efficiency, electrification, and renewable energy generation. The group seeks solutions that build community ownership and equity and bring the community together around shared goals and priorities. Campaigns for solar, energy efficiency and electrification are models for sub-regional implementation. Ongoing virtual dialogues hosted by the organization are components of programming within and beyond the MDI community that are building a network of community-driven, solutions-focused climate action throughout the State of Maine.

5.3.15 Directories for Additional Case Studies in Maine and New England

Across Maine, there are hundreds of projects and communities to learn from and to connect with to expedite climate change solutions. Communities in Maine are not alone in taking climate action and should utilize the expertise elsewhere in New England or further abroad. Websites that help with research and peer connections include:

  • Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, Municipal Planning Assistance Program – Coastal Community Grant Program, and case studies. Since 2012, this grant program has provided over $2 million for 78 projects throughout coastal Maine. List of Coastal Community Grant Awards (Maine.gov, Maine DACF) (Excel). Case studies can be found that address the goals of the Maine Coastal Program (Maine.gov, DMR) including, Preparing for Coastal Storms, Erosion and Flooding; Green Infrastructure; Restoring Coastal Habitats; Addressing Effects of Land Use Activity on Water Quality; or, Improving Coastal Public Access; Ensuring Sustainable, Vibrant Coastal Communities.
  • Environmental Protection Agency, Resilience and Adaptation in New England – The Resilience and Adaptation in New England (RAINE) (EPA) is a database of vulnerability, resilience, and adaptation reports, plans, and webpages at the state, regional, and community It includes information on communities in Maine taking various actions to build resilience. This growing resource contains content searchable by different natural hazard types, specific products of plans where climate change was incorporated, and covers many topics from economics to ecosystems, to government planning, to many more types of specific infrastructure.EPA’s Adaptation Resource Center (ARC-X) (EPA) is an interactive resource to help local governments effectively deliver services to their communities even as climate changes. Decision-makers can create an integrated package of information tailored specifically to their needs. Once users select areas of interest, they will find information about the risks posed by climate change to the issues of concern; relevant adaptation strategies; case studies illustrating how other communities have successfully adapted to those risks and tools to replicate their successes; and EPA funding opportunities.
  • Georgetown Climate Center at Georgetown University – The nonpartisan Georgetown Climate Center (GCC) seeks to advance effective climate and energy policies in the United States and serves as a resource to state and local communities that are working to reduce carbon pollution and prepare for climate change.
    • Adaptation Clearinghouse – The Adaptation Clearinghouse is an online database and networking site that serves policymakers and others who are working to help communities adapt to climate change. The Adaptation Clearinghouse can be customized to meet your needs by becoming a member. Featured sectors include coastal, ecosystems, energy, public health, transportation, and water.
  • Climate and Adaptation Knowledge Exchange – The Climate Adaptation Knowledge Exchange (CAKE-X) is an interactive online source of nationwide climate adaptation case studies and resources.
  • Maine Climate Change Adaptation Providers Network – the Maine Climate Change Adaptation Providers Network (UMaine Extension) website is an inventory of Maine-specific tools, resources, funding guides, and case studies for climate preparedness in our state.

5.4 Statewide Collaborations and Efforts

Maine and Wabanaki Tribal Nations have a legacy of actions to combat climate change in many different ways and contexts. Successes have built upon each other over time yielding achievements that distinguish the work occurring in Maine. Strong relationships have been established and maintained over time, lessons have been learned and shared so that implementing solutions is expedited, and Mainers and Wabanaki peoples have been resourceful and successful at continually navigating and accessing various funding sources to accomplish the work. The key advancements are summarized in this section, and a more detailed history of climate action achievements is detailed in Appendix A.

Note for future editions: This section needs discussion of the negotiations to the Maine Indian Claims Settlement Act and Wabanaki Tribal Nations inherent rights to manage natural resources as a climate adaptation strategy.

5.4.1 Maine State Climate Plans

In 2001, eleven states and provinces within an association of New England Governors/Eastern Canadian Premiers (NEG/ECP), including Maine, developed the first subnational Regional Climate Change Action Plan (RCCAP). In 2003, Maine established goals for the reduction of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions statewide (38 M.R.S. § 576). The Maine Climate Action Plan was adopted in 2004 to meet the reduction goals specified in Maine law. The action plan contained recommended options that would allow the state to meet the reduction goals through cost-effective strategies and actions, and that allow for sustainably managed forestry, agriculture, and other natural resources to sequester greenhouse gas emissions.

In 2009, the Maine Legislature directed the Maine Department of Environmental Protection to evaluate what options the state and its citizens have as we adapt to the impacts of climate change: 124th Legislature, LD 460, “Resolve, To Evaluate Climate Change Adaptation Options for the State” (Maine Legislature) (PDF). The development of People and Nature Adapting to a Changing Climate: Charting Maine’s Course 2010 (Maine’s Climate Adaptation Plan) brought together a broad cross-section of Maine people representing business, trade, agriculture, forestry, health, transportation, and conservation, as well as state and municipal government. More than 70 groups participated in creating the report and working on committees. The report builds directly on the climate impact assessment led by UMaine, Maine’s Climate Future: An Initial Assessment 2009, which offered an informative and up-to-date summary of climate change effects in Maine. The adaptation plan contained numerous strategies and more than 60 recommendations.

Since 2003, Maine progressed on implementing over 70% of the recommendations in its first Climate Action Plan (LD 845 121st Maine Legislature, First Regular Session, An Act To Provide Leadership in Addressing the Threat of Climate Change, P.L. 237), and over 80% of its recommendations in the Maine Adaptation Plan (2009 LD 460 124th Maine Legislature, First Regular Session, Resolve, To Evaluate Climate Change Adaptation Options for the State), achieving both near-term mitigation goals and improving risk mapping and other decision-support tools development to support communities and industries adapt to impacts. In 2012, the 2010 Adaptation Plan was adopted as the State’s working adaptation plan. Agency and sector-specific plans have also been developed (Appendix A).

On June 26, 2019 (LD 1679: 29th Maine Legislature, First Regular Session, An Act To Promote Clean Energy Jobs and To Establish the Maine Climate Council, Public Law, Chapter 476 on – Session – 129th Maine Legislature, An Act To Promote Clean Energy Jobs and To Establish the Maine Climate Council), the Governor and Legislature created the Maine Climate Council which is an assembly of scientists, industry leaders, bipartisan local and state officials, and engaged citizens to develop a four-year plan to put Maine on a trajectory to reduce emissions by 45% by 2030 and at least 80% by 2050. In September of 2019, co-chaired by the Governor’s Office of Policy Innovation and the Future and the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, the 39-member Council (Maine.gov, Maine Climate Council) and its supporting bodies, the Science and Technical Subcommittee, and six sector-specific Working Groups started meeting to develop the climate action plan.

On December 1, 2020, the Council delivered the plan — Maine Won’t Wait: A four-year plan for climate action — to the Governor and the Legislature. An Equity Subcommittee was established in 2021. That same year the State also adopted a carbon neutrality goal by 2045 (L.D. 1429 130th Maine Legislature, Second Regular Session, An Act To Achieve Carbon Neutrality in Maine by the Year 2045, P.L. 517 State of Maine H.P. 1045 – L.D. 1429 An Act To Achieve Carbon Neutrality in Maine by the Year 2045 (PDF)). The Science and Technical Subcommittee produced the most up-to-date Scientific Assessment of Climate Change and Its Effects in Maine, (GOPIF) (PDF) in Maine, analyses/reports (Maine Climate Council)of greenhouse gas mitigation strategies and cost-benefit of adaptation actions were prepared, and thousands of Maine people (Maine Climate Council) (PDF) offered their concerns, observations, ideas, and encouragement to create the plan.

Maine Won’t Wait (Maine Won’t Wait (Maine.gov) (PDF)Maine Won’t Wait (FlipHTML5)Executive Summary: Maine Won’t Wait (Maine.gov) (PDF) contains eight strategies with dozens of recommendations for implementation. Within the entirety of the Plan, there are a total of 67 recommendations across the eight overarching strategies. The strategies within the Climate Action Plan can also serve a dual purpose for communities in Maine by providing areas where specific actions can be taken. These strategies are listed below and are referenced in the relevant sections below.

  • Strategy A: Embrace the Future of Transportation
  • Strategy B: Modernize Maine’s Buildings: Energy-Efficient, Smart, and Cost-Effective Homes and Businesses
  • Strategy D: Grow Maine’s Clean Energy Economy and Protect Our Natural Resource Industries
  • Strategy E: Protect Maine’s Environment and Working Lands and Waters, Promote Natural Climate Solutions, and Increase Carbon Sequestration
  • Strategy F: Build Healthy and Resilient Communities
  • Strategy G: Invest in Climate-Ready Infrastructure
  • Strategy H: Engage with Maine People and Communities about Climate Impacts and Program Opportunities

Maine’s Climate Action Plan is a blueprint for bold, specific, and immediate action requiring transformational changes in the way Maine produces and consumes energy and incorporates climate change impacts and principles into day-to-day decision-making. Implementing the plan will require a climate-focused recovery from the global pandemic, and a collective effort across state agencies and with individuals, businesses, organizations, and leaders in Maine. Many of the topics and actions included in this Workbook align with strategies and recommendations identified in Maine Won’t Wait. Best practices presented in this workbook represent areas where communities might inventory their own actions to identify gaps and pursue further action using the resources and experts provided.

5.4.2 Community Resilience Partnership

The Governor’s Office of Policy Innovation and the Future (GOPIF) launched the Community Resilience Partnership (Maine.gov, GOPIF) on December 1, 2021. Through grants and direct support to municipal and Tribal governments, the Community Resilience Partnership assists communities to reduce carbon emissions, transition to clean energy, and become more resilient to climate change effects such as extreme weather, flooding, rising sea levels, public health impacts, and more.

Communities in Maine can join the Partnership individually, or through a regional group, after completing three simple steps including (1) adopting a resolution of commitment, (2) completing a pair of self-assessments, and (3) holding a community workshop to prioritize initial climate resilience and clean energy actions. Participation in the Partnership is open to all municipalities and federally recognized Tribes in Maine.

Communities with a record of climate action may join the Partnership by reviewing past activities, completing the self-assessments, providing proof of a qualifying community workshop, and passing or amending a resolution. Communities yet to begin climate action can choose to complete the steps on their own but may find greater benefit in working with a service provider and neighboring communities to join the Partnership as a group.

Community Action Grants can support two categories of climate action by communities: (1) actions from the List of Community Actions, an approved list of climate mitigation and adaptation activities that align with the strategies of Maine Won’t Wait, and (2) other projects proposed by a community that supports capacity building, planning, and implementation projects.

These options offer guidance for communities starting on climate plans and incentivize a baseline level of climate action across the state. They also provide flexibility by allowing communities to choose actions from the List that are most relevant and feasible, while also providing support for community climate and energy priorities that may not appear on the List of Community Actions.

Continue to #6: Integration with Existing Community Activities →

14 Johnson, Eileen S., Esperanza Stancioff, Tora Johnson, Sarena Sabine, Haley Maurice, and Claire Reboussin. PDF Download Available on this page: “Preparing for a Changing Climate: The State of Adaptation Planning in Maine’s Coastal Communities.” Maine Policy Review (DigitalCommons@UMaine), 28.2 (2019): 10 -22.

15  NOAA Coastal Services Center, Introduction to Stakeholder Participation (2015) (PDF).

16 Press Release: Eight Maine Communities Selected for Local Climate Change Planning Projects (Maine.gov, Governor’s Office of Policy Innovation and the Future)

17 For specific adaptation strategies, see the policy, land use, project, and funding strategy tables in pages 40-55 in the Tides, Taxes, and New Tactics: Adaptation Planning for the Impacts of Sea Level Rise and Storm Surge in Southern Maine final report (SMPDC) (PDF), July 2021.

18 Sara Mills-Knapp, email message to author, December 3, 2021.