8: Technical Assistance

Municipal officials, especially in small municipalities, have diverse project portfolios and responsibilities. Thus, even when informational resources or tutorials for climate data tools target municipal audiences, these efforts may assume more specialization than is typical for decision-makers in small municipalities. Targeted information such as placed-based forecasts for climate change, precipitation patterns, sea-level rise, and storm surge hazards, may more immediately improve municipal abilities to carry out projects to improve resiliency, but understanding this information may also assume more specialization than is typical for municipal or Tribal decision-makers. Public officials need accurate projections using the latest climate science and for those projections to be packaged as actionable guidance. Yet, the scope of public officials’ and department leaders’ daily activities also limits their availability to explore and gain expertise within discrete subject matter. Thus, we anticipate a need for climate adaptation practitioners and boundary-spanning entities including the Maine Climate Science Information Exchange Office to provide services at the scale of individual municipalities.

Especially in coastal Maine, and at a time when community climate change adaptation has not matured into routine operations, it is essential to foster partnership and collaboration between municipal leadership and climate change practitioners. Many university programs, NGOs, and consulting and engineering organizations have staff that are interested and available to collaborate with local efforts. County, regional, and State level governing bodies also have staff with experience in climate resilience. It is important to acknowledge the social nature of collaboration and to start making connections with local and regional organizations. The Peer-to-Peer Connections page on the Climate Change Adaptation Provider’s (CCAP) Network website describes opportunities for community representatives to attend meetings and conferences that adjoin climate change practitioners state-wide. As communities engage with networks of practitioners, find out what motivates them and their respective institutions and explore ways that their mission and the needs of a community can overlap.

Connecting climate change practitioners with municipalities also improves the positioning of communities to acquire outside resources through various pathways. A discrete example is when practitioners share information about funding, assistance, or training opportunities available for towns. Similarly, climate practitioners can be helpful in crafting town proposals that are competitive in a landscape of grants with often exclusive academic parlance. More broadly, when practitioners collaborate directly with municipalities, critical insights can be gained regarding the most salient barriers and opportunities for communities to engage in adaptation to climate change. Practitioners and their affiliations and networks are often embedded within broader contexts of developing research agendas and policies for climate resilience. Thus, practitioners’ experiences from collaboration at the municipal scale can help shape institutional priorities to better meet community needs. All these steps align with the ‘Consider Community and Landscapes’ step of the Resilience Building Framework (Figure 1).

8.1 Regional Planning and Economic Development Organizations

There are currently nine regional planning and economic development organizations throughout Maine. Each organization has a geographic scope, with most areas spanning more than one county.40

8.1.1 Androscoggin Valley Council of Governments

The Androscoggin Valley Council of Governments (AVCOG) has assisted communities with road washouts and culvert repairs due to flooding and storms and now also provides services related to the Community Resilience Partnership. AVCOG now has a regional resiliency coordinator and an environmental and resiliency planner. In the past, the primary climate adaptation program that AVCOG has worked on with their communities was the grant, Municipal Stream Crossing Upgrade Grant Program (Maine.gov, Maine DEP), for stream culvert upgrades. They receive limited funding from the Maine Municipal Planning Assistance Program to help communities in applying for the DEP funds. Outside of these sources, AVCOG has not historically had funding for climate resilience work as an inland region. There has been less demand for these services among the communities they serve because assistance is provided on a fee-for-service basis.41

8.1.2 Hancock County Planning Commission

The Hancock County Planning Commission (HCPC) offers services to towns in their region ranging from Comprehensive Planning, economic development planning, climate resilience, recreational trails, transportation planning, and development review. They provide towns with assistance in identifying and preparing grant applications for multiple municipal and regional needs.

8.1.3 Lincoln County Regional Planning Commission

The Lincoln County Regional Planning Commission (LCRPC) provides service to municipalities throughout Lincoln County. In addition to services in economic and community development, LCRPC has a regional brownfields assessment program, a wide range of municipal planning services, and a resilience staff. They issue “LCRPC Interprets!” a monthly climate newsletter with a focus on a particular topic from Maine Won’t Wait and guidance on how municipalities can address the issue and find connections, action opportunities, and community resources.

8.1.4 Northern Maine Development Commission

The Northern Maine Development Commission (NMDC) offers the following services to municipalities in their region that are working on climate adaptation: grant writing, program development, project management, planning services, loans, and business counseling. As described in Section 5.3, NMDC and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) are also collaborating on a community resilience project funded by GOPIF.42 The GROWashington Aroostook Plan and consortium in particular, which is co-led by NMDC, focuses on climate change and infrastructure resilience.

8.1.5 Eastern Maine Development Corporation

The Eastern Maine Development Corporation (EMDC) is prioritizing climate resilience through the July 2021 release of the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS), a five-year plan for regional economic development. The CEDS presents actionable strategies within five goal areas, one of which is Climate Resilience. A significant part of the CEDS implementation process will be expanding the technical assistance framework EMDC provides to include climate adaptation and resilience services.43 EMDC formed a regional planning commission in 2022 and provides planning and land use services in Penobscot and Piscataquis counties.

The Climate Resilience Goal is to foster methods of adaptation and mitigation to strengthen the region’s resilience against climate-related impacts. The first strategy to meet this goal is to support the goals and strategies of Maine’s Climate Action Plan through the following objectives: develop a regional climate needs assessment, identity building and transportation infrastructure of key concern, and provide specialized technical assistance to communities. The second strategy is to support clean energy by assisting with grant development for projects that support renewable energy generation and climate adaptation and encouraging investments in climate-ready infrastructure.

The CEDS provides readers with data that quantifies the impacts of climate change on the regional economy and the greater consequences if immediate action is not taken. The report acknowledges that “Without increased technical assistance and impactful steps towards mitigation, the region risks job loss and decreased productivity in key sectors such as tourism, agriculture, forestry, and transportation”. More information is available on the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy page(Eastern Maine Development Corporation).

8.1.6 Kennebec Valley Council of Governments

The Kennebec Valley Council of Governments (KVCOG) received funding from the 2020 CARES Act Economic Recovery Package for direct relief to stimulate and stabilize the economy. This funding has allowed KVCOG to establish two Community Resilience Coordinators, whose focus through 2022 was to help communities prevent, prepare for, and respond to the pandemic as well as other disaster preparation and prevention. This project aims to engage in and assist the region with:

  • Economic Recovery Planning
  • Regional Resiliency collaboration and initiatives
  • Preparing Technical Assistance Strategies
  • Addressing economic dislocations caused by COVID-19
  • Preparing and/or updating community resiliency plans
  • Implementing entrepreneurial support programs to diversify economies
  • Constructing public works and facilities that will support economic recovery, including broadband infrastructure.

The Resilience Series is one approach to engaging the community, and KVCOG has held webinars on culverts and plans to hold a webinar on flooding preparedness and planning, amongst other topics. Information from these and other outreach and community engagement efforts around resiliency will be included in their 5-year Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS), implemented in 2022.

8.1.7 Midcoast Council of Governments

The Midcoast Council of Governments (MCOG) is a membership-driven organization serving the entirety of Sagadahoc, Lincoln, and Knox counties, and select communities in Cumberland County (Harpswell and Brunswick) and Waldo County (Northport, Lincolnville, Searsmont, and Belmont). MCOG was formerly the Mid-coast Economic Development District. In addition to traditional planning services, MCOG remains the Economic Development Administration (EDA) designated economic development district for the region; it identifies funding sources and assists with grant writing as part of membership dues. In Damariscotta, MCOG (then called MCEDD) assisted with grant writing in 2019 to receive funding from the Economic Development Administration (EDA) and Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) for their future floodwall and stormwater system.44

8.1.8. Greater Portland Council of Governments

The Greater Portland Council of Government (GPCOG) supports both inland and coastal towns in the region in data collection, planning, and project implementation for climate action. Their Municipal Climate Action Planning program describes a series of projects to help support resilience in the GPCOG region. Specific projects and partnerships are described in the Section:

  • Sustainability data and mapping (Section 4.1)
  • Resilience Pilot program with Bridgton and Windham (Section 5.3)
  • Climate Ready Casco Bay (Section 5.3)
  • GOPIF Community Resilience Partnership as a CRP service provider supporting climate action grants for members.
  • Community Intertidal Data Portal (Section 5.3)

8.1.9. Southern Maine Planning and Development Commission

The Southern Maine Planning and Development Commission (SMPDC) offers services to their communities and manages multiple regional resiliency projects. These are further described in Section 5.3. More information is available on their Sustainability and Resilience (SMPDC):

8.1.10. Washington County Council of Governments

The Washington County Council of Governments maintains a web presence as it seeks to secure staff and reorganize after the loss of all of its staff in early 2021. Resources on the website from earlier work provide a Climate Vulnerability Assessment for Washington County, storm surge scenarios for coastal embayments, regional climate resilience projects, and links to funding opportunities.

8.2 Maine County Commissioners and County-based Organizations

The voters in each of Maine’s 16 counties elect three, five, or seven commissioners to four-year terms to oversee the operation of county government. Each commissioner serves a separate district within the county. Commissioners are the counties’ chief elected officials and are ultimately responsible for the fiscal operations and policy decisions affecting county government. Additional duties include municipal tax abatement appeals and hearings on the maintenance of town roads. They also serve, in effect, as the municipal officials in Maine’s many unorganized territories. Fifteen Maine counties belong to the Maine County Commissioners Association.

In Maine, emergency management is coordinated regionally by Emergency Management Agencies (EMAs) in each of our 16 Counties. County Commissioners appoint County Directors, and they are funded partly by the county and partly by federal funds provided through MEMA. A directory of the county EMAs is available on the County and Local: County Emergency Management Agencies page (MEMA).

County EMAs provide an invaluable link between the almost 500 cities and towns in Maine, and the State. They provide support and leadership in preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation to their local, business and volunteer partners.

Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs) are subdivisions of the State Government, governed by locally elected Boards of Supervisors. There are sixteen SWCDs in Maine which generally correspond to county boundaries, although there are a few exceptions (Table 5). SWCDs establish local priorities for conservation efforts. Emphasis is on agriculture and forestry although urban development is a priority in some districts. SWCDs hold workshops, set up demonstrations, offer educational programs, review development plans, and set priorities for one-on-one technical assistance, at the request of land occupiers.45

Table 5 – County and Regional Organizations

County Commissioners Soil and Water Conservation District Other County/Regional Planning and Economic Development Corporations
Androscoggin Androscoggin Valley
Cumberland Cumberland County Southern Maine Planning and Development Commission (Town of Baldwin only)
Franklin County Sheriff’s Office Franklin County
Hancock Hancock County Hancock County Planning Commission
Kennebec Kennebec County
Knox Knox-Lincoln
Lincoln Lincoln County Regional Planning Commission
Oxford Oxford County Southern Maine Planning and Development Commission
Penobscot Penobscot County Eastern Maine Development Corporation
Piscataquis Piscataquis County Eastern Maine Development Corporation
Somerset Somerset County
Waldo Waldo County
Washington Washington County:
Email: Nate Pennell at nate.pennell@myfairpoint.net)
Sunrise County Economic Council and Washington County Council of Governments
York York County Southern Maine Planning and Development Commission

8.3 Volunteer or Fellowship Programs

When evaluating the capacity to conduct a particular project, there are opportunities for support beyond municipal staff, volunteers, and consultants. Depending on the type of project and availability of a supervisor or mentor, there are fellowship programs where students or recent graduates can add capacity for a term, summer, or up to one year. This section describes some of the local fellowship programs in Maine.

8.3.1 AmeriCorps Resilience Corps

The Greater Portland Council of Governments (GPCOG) hosted the first cohort of Resilience Corps in 2021. Resilience Corps is a partnership between GPCOG and AmeriCorps, which supports local government agencies, nonprofit agencies, and regional cohorts in the Greater Portland area in their recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Fourteen Resilience Corps members assisted projects related to regional, community, or organizational resilience and helped to accelerate civic innovation, climate action, racial equity, and digital equity for all Mainers. There was a new cohort of fellows in 2022. The mission of this program is to add new capacity in local governments to adapt and proactively respond to both short-term and long-term challenges to economic, social, and environmental systems throughout the region.

8.3.2 Maine Climate Corps

The Maine Won’t Wait report identified capacity as a limitation to climate adaptation. One recommendation in the report to address this is to “Start the Maine Climate Corps for climate-related workforce development by partnering with service-learning organizations to launch a Maine Climate Corps program by 2023.”

To this end, the Maine legislature proposed LD 722, “Resolve, To Study the Establishment of the Maine Climate Corps,” which was made a law on June 8, 2021. This legislation tasks Volunteer Maine with:

  • studying and identifying projects and tasks in state agencies that could be made into service projects for citizens of the state; and
  • recommending how best to structure the Maine Climate Corps, which was proposed in the Maine Climate Council’s Climate Action Plan, Maine Won’t Wait.

Volunteer Maine Commissioners and staff conducted the study and released a Maine Climate Corps Report to the 130th Maine State Legislature (PDF) which includes information on their methodology, potential projects for Climate Corp fellows, and the impacts of these projects.

Other Local Fellowship and Internship Programs

Please review Table 6 for a list of relevant programs that communities may plan to use when following the Resilience Building Framework (Figure 1).

Table 6: Fellowship, volunteer, and internships programs

Organization Type of programs Contact
Bates Purposeful Work Internships, national fellowships, environmental internships, environmental capstone courses Bates Center for Purposeful Work, Email: purposefulwork@bates.edu
Bowdoin College National fellowships, summer fellowships, academic year research Cindy Stocks, Director of Student Fellowships and Research, Email: cstocks@bowdoin.edu
University of Maine View contact information for each of the programs listed to the left.
University of Southern Maine Data Innovations Project: Applied Research Fellowship Becky Wurwarg, Email: datainnovationproject@gmail.com
Volunteer Maine (Maine.gov) AmeriCorps, Maine Service Fellows (2022), Maine Climate Corps (2022) Volunteer Maine Service Commission’s About the Commission page (Maine.gov)
Island Institute Island Fellows Program: providing residential internships supporting island communities. Island Fellows Program
Note: The organizations and programs listed are a sample of those available in the state, and do not represent an exhaustive list.

8.4 Nonprofits and Academia

There are many nonprofits and academic institutions in the state that have climate programs and projects, from research and monitoring to adaptation and mitigation. Table 7 provides an overview of current program areas and/or services offered by a selection of organizations and institutions. This information represents a snapshot of programs and services that will change, so please visit their websites for more information. This is not an exhaustive list, as there are many other local organizations and academic institutions working on climate-related issues.

Table 7: Organizations that focus on climate adaptation and may provide resilience-related technical support.

Organization Program Areas/Services Contact
Casco Bay Estuary Partnership Research and monitoring; Casco Bay Academy
(municipal training); State of the Bay (5-year monitoring reports); Casco Bay Monitoring Network and Plan; habitat protection and restoration; data clearinghouse;
Curtis Bohlen
Downeast Institute Marine research, shellfish hatchery, ocean acidification lab, and education Sara Randall and Dr. Brian Beal
First Light Initiative Bridge between conservation organizations and Penobscot, Passamaquoddy, Maliseet and Micmac Communities to expand Wabanaki stewardship of land. Peter Forbes
Friends of Casco Bay Science – water quality monitoring and analysis, Baykeeping, community engagement Mike Doan and Ivy Frignoca
Gulf of Maine Research Institute Climate Center; preparing communities for sea level rise; middle-school climate education (LabVenture); resilience training; fisheries modeling; convening Gayle Bowness
Island Institute Clean energy; ocean acidification; sea level rise; funding programs; training programs; Susie Arnold and Sam Belknap
Maine Sea Grant Healthy coastal ecosystems; resilient communities and economies; preparing for climate change; safe and sustainable seafood; environmental literacy and workforce development Parker Gassett, Kristen Grant, and Jessica Brunacini
Manomet Research and monitoring – fisheries, forestry, and agriculture; Climate Smart Land Network (CSLN); education; watershed resiliency; green infrastructure; habitat resiliency (coastal and migratory birds) Andy Whitman and Marissa McMahan
Mitchell Center for Sustainability Solutions at the University of Maine Community partnerships, sustainability science, environmental justice, education and professional networking, collaborative grant opportunities David Hart
New England Environmental Finance Center Climate resilience funding workshops; Casco Bay Academy; technical assistance (watershed management, ecological restoration, climate resilience); policy development Martha Sheils
The Nature Conservancy Sea level rise and inland flooding planning and adaptation; decision support tools; financial and technical resources for community adaptation programs; incorporating social vulnerability consideration in adaptation planning; nature-based solutions; hazard mitigation. Jeremy Bell
Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve Lobster and shellfish biology; water quality monitoring; sea level rise planning and adaptation; Southern Maine watershed protection efforts; municipal and teacher training programs; Annie Cox and Jason Goldstein
*Listed program areas/services represent a sample of climate-related services. Please visit the respective websites for a complete list.

There are many colleges and universities in Maine that offer education and research on climate change impacts, adaptation, and resilience. Some offer specific degrees, especially at the graduate and technical level, and other liberal arts colleges offer interdisciplinary approaches. There is a range of focus areas from physical/biological, to social, cultural, and economic. Communities may choose to engage with their local academic institutions to work with interns and classes on applied climate adaptation projects.

8.5 Maine-based Consultants

There are many consultants and businesses that provide technical assistance, project management, and program development services. Some are national or international businesses, and others are small, independent businesses. Whether large or small, local expertise and knowledge of your community is key. Table 8 includes a sample of businesses that are either based in Maine or have offices in Maine. These businesses were selected primarily because of their work on local projects. Inclusion in the workbook does not imply endorsement by any of the authors or funders.

Table 8:  A list of Maine-based consultants, their service areas and example projects.

Company Location(s) Key Service Areas Local Projects**
FB Environmental Portland, Maine and Dover, New Hampshire Climate change monitoring, impact analysis, municipal resilience planning, vulnerability analysis, adaptation strategies, stakeholder engagement, capacity building, resilient infrastructure planning and design Bar Harbor, Maine Flood Resilience Checklist Wells; Maine Flood Resilience Checklist
(w/ SMPDC); model coastal resilience ordinance with Tremont, Wells, Kittery, Vinalhaven and South Portland; Cape Elizabeth, Living Shoreline Project;
Blue Hill, Living Shoreline Project; coastal resilience assessment for the Town of Gouldsboro; Comprehensive plan updates for the towns of Wells and Bar Harbor
(climate resiliency focus)
GEI Consultants Portland, Maine, Nationwide Municipal infrastructure, coastal and waterfront engineering, transportation, environmental planning, climate adaptation, land use planning Tides, Taxes and New Tactics (Wells Reserve at Laudholm)
Linnean Solutions Portland, Maine, Boston, Massachusetts Climate adaptation and resilience planning; GHG inventories; climate action planning (mitigation); municipal sustainability planning; climate hazards vulnerability assessments; resilience and sustainability policy and design standards; community process design, facilitation, and training One Climate Future
(Portland/S. Portland)
Naomi Merman Consulting Portland, Maine Clean energy and renewable strategy, community engagement, facilitation, evaluation and planning Lewiston Tree Streets Net Zero Energy Community Feasibility Findings and Roadmap
Rbouvier Consulting Economic analysis, risk mitigation, social and environmental sustainability, workshop design and facilitation, Tides, Taxes and New Tactics (Wells Reserve at Laudholm)
City of Portland Integrated Stormwater & Wastewater Management Plan
Or Carrying Capacity of Or Carrying Capacity of the Blue Hill Peninsula
Resilience Works Brooksville, Maine, New Jersey Resilience funding and financing GOPIF Community Resilience Pilot
Waterview Consulting Harpswell, Maine Project management; needs assessment; strategic communication; graphic design; writing and editing; co-production of knowledge; information collection, analysis, and synthesis Casco Bay Climate Vulnerability Report (CBEP)
*Listed service areas represent a sample of services. Please visit the respective websites for a complete list.
**Listed local projects may not represent all relevant projects in Maine.

8.6 State, Tribal, and Federal Partners

The Maine Interagency Climate Adaptation (MICA) Work Group is coordinated by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and has representatives from eight state agencies sharing the information forum. The group continues a 2013 Governor’s request to create an interagency effort to coordinate state adaptation activities (the Environment and Energy Resources Work Group). Members consolidate resources for adaptation, resilience, and mitigation, and collaborate on opportunities for cross-agency projects including making available existing information and assistance opportunities on the state climate webpages and Maine Adaptation Toolkit. More information, including a list of the state agencies and relevant programs, is available on The Maine Interagency Climate Adaptation (MICA) Work Group page (Maine.gov, Maine DEP).

President Biden’s Executive Order 14008 (January 28, 2021) required major Federal agencies to develop an adaptation and resilience plan to address their most significant climate risks and vulnerabilities. On October 7, 2021, the White House announced the release of more than 20 Federal Agency Climate Adaptation and Resilience Plans. As part of these efforts, agencies will integrate adaptation and resilience planning and implementation throughout their operations and programs and will continually update their adaptation plans. The agency plans are available on the Climate Resilient Infrastructure and Operations page (Office of the Federal Chief Sustainability Officer).

Wabanaki Tribal Nations actively steward and manage natural resources and many of these activities are led through their respective natural resource departments as listed in Table 9. Representatives of these departments are involved in many collaborative efforts with state and federal agencies, non-profit organizations, and academia.

Table 9: Wabanaki Tribal Nations natural resource programs and contact information.

Tribal Nation Programs Contact Info
Mi’kmaq Nation Air quality, drinking water quality, indoor air quality, natural resource management, emergency planning and preparedness, environmental lab, and environmental education codonnell@micmac-nsn.gov
Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians Environmental planning, environmental protection and forestry, water resources, and real estate services Contact Us page (Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians – Natural Resources)
Penobscot Nation Department of Natural Resources: Air quality, brownfields, conservation law enforcement, big game biology, fisheries, forestry, GIS mapping, and water resources Contact Info on the Department of Natural Resources page (Penobscot Nation)
Passamaquoddy Tribe at Indian Township Reservation Water Resources Contact Us page (Passamaquoddy Tribe at Indian Township)
Passamaquoddy Tribe – Pleasant Point Reservation Environmental planning, water quality, brownfields, GIS, environmental science and fisheries, and climate change Email Marvin Cling, Sr., Email: marvin@wabanaki.com or call 207.853.5134

Continue to #9: Professional Development Opportunities →

40 Directory of Maine Economic Development Organizations (U.S. Economic Development Administration, EDA).

41 Lauren Jordan, email message to author, October 4, 2021, and Shelly Norton, email message to author, October 5, 2021.

42 Jay Kamm, email message to author, October 4, 2021.

43 Anna Stockman, email message to author, October 4, 2021.

44 Maxwell Johnstone, email message to author, October 1, 2021.

45 Maine DACF, Soil and Water Conservation Districts website.