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State grants could aid watershed management
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Effingham County could get some state help in funding its watershed management study.

Sonny Emmert of the state Department of Natural Resources’ Coastal Resources Division said the Coastal Management Program’s award cycle starts soon.

Under the Coastal Management Program for 11 counties within 60 miles of the coast, supported activities include water quality monitoring, local government assistance, federal consistency review, outreach and education and effort to reduce nonpoint source pollution.

“One program we have talked about is the watershed assessment program,” county engineer Steve  Liotta said. “That is an example of one project that is ongoing.”

One of the aims of the Georgia Coastal Management plan, approved in April 1997, is to bring economic development while preserving the state’s coastal resources, Emmert said.

About 60 percent of the program’s funds are given out through grants, according to Emmert. There is approximately $800,000 available in the Coastal Incentive Grant funding cycle. There is a maximum of $100,000 of federal funding available for non-construction projects and a maximum of $50,000, with a match, for projects requiring construction.  

There also is up to $25,000 available in local need projects. Those projects must be identified in the comprehensive plan and need to be completed within a year.

The grants are issued based on themes — coastal comprehensive plan implementation, valuation of the coastal ecosystem, coastal hazards, public access and cultural resources.

“Our main goal is technical assistance,” Emmert said. “We advocate quality growth and the protection of natural resources using a science-based approach.”

The program is set up to provide information on wildlife habitat and endangered species and lend technical help on planning and design. It also acts a clearinghouse of information for government, developers and citizens on issues and regulations.

Emmert pointed out the CRD can bring help right to a local door if needed with the Coastal Ark. The Coastal Ark is a mobile training and planning platform that brings assistance and materials to governments, schools and other events around the state.