A Message from the Secretary

March 2017

DNR Secretary Mark J. BeltonWith more than 70 percent of our state’s population concentrated in counties along the shoreline of the Chesapeake Bay and coastline of the Atlantic Ocean, Maryland is one of the most vulnerable states in the nation (similar to Louisiana) to the impacts of anticipated sea level rise and severe weather events, including erosion, flooding, salt water intrusion and inundation, and storm surge.

In the past century, 13 islands have disappeared under the brackish waters of the Chesapeake Bay due to the natural depression of land and predictable increase of water levels.

With a projected future of a changing climate and environment, Maryland is making adaption and resiliency planning a top priority.

Through the state’s Coast Smart Council, which I am proud to chair, we now have design and siting criteria that must be used for the construction or reconstruction of state structures to minimize the impacts of coastal erosion and flooding. This criteria will be used by all state agencies and departments.

Stormy sunrise on the water;

At the department level, we worked with partners to catalog where forests, wetlands, sand dunes and other habitats protect our coastal communities and serve as natural defenses. These tools will help us identify opportunities to enhance natural protections and reduce risk.

To further our efforts, I am excited to announce a new department grant program  – made possible by Governor Larry Hogan – to help communities become even more resilient to the effects of climate change, including anticipated sea level rise and extreme weather.

With this newest investment – the first for the state and possibly the nation – we will address escalating risks from climate and weather-related events and prioritize projects to mitigate their impact.

The “Building Resiliency through Restoration” program will help design six demonstration shoreline improvement projects in five jurisdictions across the state from Southern Maryland to the Lower Eastern Shore. Projects will include shoreline restoration, beneficial use of dredged material, tidal marsh restoration and the protection of dune habitats to shelter coastal infrastructure.

Through these efforts and more, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources is leading the way toward climate-smart conservation and restoration.

DNR Secretary Belton's Signature

Mark J. Belton
Natural Resources Secretary