Experts say Erie’s coastal zones are some of the region’s greatest assets, but maintaining those assets is a long-term commitment. They say managing the coastal zones takes regular investment and research.
From now until October, organizations and municipalities can apply to have coastal projects paid for with the help from the state. In Erie County, there are 77 miles of coastline.
Emily Beck, Director of Tourism Development with VisitErie, says it’s those ties to the water that make this region stand out. “Being here on Lake Erie is our biggest asset. Only second is Presque Isle and Presque Isle Bay. That is what makes us different.”
The Department of Environmental Protection is offering a new round of grants for coastal zone protection and coastal zone management. The money is geared to aid projects that protect and preserve sensitive environmental areas along the coastline.
Joy Knapp, Coastal Resource Planner for Erie County, says, “It’s just a great opportunity to balance economic development as well as our sensitive natural resources because so much of Erie’s economy is tied to our coastal zone.”
Experts say investing in coastal zones could have a positive influence on the economy for the entire region. Beck says, “We want to maintain and keep and improve the coastal zone that we have because it’s very important to tourism and it’s very important to you and me for a quality of life.”
Representatives with the county say each individual DEP grant is up to 50-thousand dollars, Knapp saying, “there’s kind of a wide array of projects, research projects, some construction projects, revitalization projects, rehabilitation projects that are covered under the eligibility criteria of this grant.”
Knapp also says as many as 5-10 local programs could be funded through this grant cycle.
The grant round opened on the 13th of August and will close on October 15th. The funding is expected to be available October 1st of next year.