AUGUSTA — The state announced $2.4 million in grants to 53 communities across Maine on Friday to help them plan for climate change, reduce carbon emissions, and increase municipal resiliency through projects ranging from local forest protection to weatherization to rooftop solar arrays.

The grants to Maine cities, towns and tribes are being distributed through the state’s Community Resilience Partnership program. Created in 2021, the program has awarded $6.1 million to 103 communities, including some regional groups that have pursued projects serving multiple communities.

“The Community Resilience Partnership is meeting communities where they are on the path to climate resiliency,” said Cathy Conlow, executive director of the Maine Municipal Association. “It supplies municipal leaders with the resources they need to be innovators.”

The grants were unveiled at the first meeting of the latest iteration of the Maine Climate Council, a 39-member assembly of scientists, industry leaders, local and state officials, and citizens tasked with updating the state’s climate action plan by December 2024. The council next meets on Dec. 1.

The council has committed to several data-driven goals, including two required by state law: achieve statewide carbon neutrality by 2045 and reduce Maine’s greenhouse gas emissions to 45 percent below 1990 levels by 2030, and 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

As of 2019, gross greenhouse gas emissions in Maine were 25 percent lower than 1990 levels.


The six-hour meeting began with a message from Gov. Janet Mills and included updates from its scientific advisers and council co-chairs Hannah Pingree, head of the Office of Policy Innovation and the Future, and Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Melanie Loyzim.

“People everywhere are waking up to the urgency of climate change,” Mills said. “The folks rebuilding washed-out roads, the fishermen heading further out to sea to fish, the farmers waiting weeks for hay to dry. We all know that climate change is real and that we can’t wait to address it.”

The scientific advisers noted the planet’s growing list of climate extremes: its hottest summer on record, record-high sea surface temperatures and record-low global sea ice. Maine had its own list: its highest-ever summer tides, its hottest July ever and four presidential weather-related disaster proclamations.

“What happens in the world happens here, too,” said Ivan Fernandez, University of Maine professor of soil science and head of the college’s Climate Change Institute. “Schools in Maine in September closed due to heat? This is vacation land … It’s in our backyard, and that’s why we’re here talking about it.”

Rob Taylor, a teacher and coach from Spruce Mountain High School in Jay, urged the council to focus on solutions as much as the science behind climate change. Under his tutelage, Spruce Mountain is a repeat winner of the nation’s largest high school environmental science competition.

“Climate change is not a science problem, it’s an economic problem,” Taylor told the council. “We know what to do. We know what the answers are. We have the science and the technology to do it. Do we have the will to do it? That is what young people need to hear.”


Shortly after Taylor and his students spoke, the council unveiled its third round of community grants.

Fryeburg received a $50,000 grant to initiate a composting pilot program to reduce emissions from food waste, conserve 74 acres of town forest, and build an outdoor learning pavilion to create environmental education opportunities.

“Fryeburg is very excited,” said town manager Katie Haley. “The projects that will transpire as a result of this grant are varied, but each is equally important to the town and our residents as we work to support the Maine Won’t Wait climate plan.”

Camden got a $50,000 grant to prepare its public landing for sea level rise and storm surge. The state is urging the town to raise the town pier and move the harbor master’s office and public restrooms to higher ground in preparation for 2 feet of sea level rise by 2050.

“The town has made significant, costly and repeated repairs to our landing due to the impacts of intense storms and sea level rise,” said Jeremy Martin, Camden’s planning and development director. “This funding will ensure the public landing is redesigned to be resilient and sustainable.”

Long Island will get a $45,000 grant to do a groundwater sustainability study to help the town, one of Maine’s 15 year-round island communities, understand the effects of climate change on its drinking water supply, both in terms of quality and quantity.

“Climate change and rising sea levels are impacting all of Maine, especially our unbridged islands,” said Town Administrator Brian Dudley. “Water resource management is crucial to our island community.”

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