Murphy Promises Help Protecting Shoreline

New Haven Independent

U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy came to New Haven’s new Canal Dock Boathouse on Long Wharf, Wednesday, to pitch his plans to keep the coast intact amid climate change — and heard some other ideas about how to do that.

Murphy spoke about a proposal he plans to reintroduce along with fellow U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris of California, called the Living Shoreline Act. (The bill was introduced last year but didn’t pass.) If passed, the act would fund $25 million in 1:1 matching grants through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to support municipalities’ and nonprofits’ living shoreline protection projects that are ecologically and environmentally friendly while preventing coastal erosion. The proposed act “encourages the use of natural materials” to “mitigate erosion and flooding, absorb coastal storms, and sustain coastal ecosystems.”

“We really want to start moving away from using grey infrastructure to using green infrastructure,” said Murphy.

Thirty-five people active in local environmental work joined Murphy at Wednesday morning’s event. Many shared support for stabilizing shorelines by using natural-based materials like plants, sand, shell, or rock.

City officials are hoping the bill will support coastal resiliency plansthey’ve been working on.

James Berger, a Yale lecturer, and Westville-based activist asked whether the projects would open job opportunities for New Haven residents.

In drawing up plans, the city’s engineering staff has “been prioritizing doing small construction jobs as part of larger packages, to set aside jobs for small minority-owned New Haven businesses,” responded city government’s parks and recreation director, Rebecca Bombero.

A concept plan for the Long Wharf Living Shoreline project was displayed with some specifics of the coastal resiliency designs.

“I echo the importance of monitoring these longer-term concepts,” said Katie Lund, project coordinator at Connecticut Institute for Resilience & Climate Adaptation (CIRCA).

Peter Solomon, a teacher at Sound School, brought along with him some of his students to share some information about their ongoing environmental projects with shoreline restoration efforts. Solomon said that he hopes for the bill to prompt further conversations around ecology and to offer education on why climate change is important and how it is affecting Connecticut.

“We want to put back together the shoreline,” said Murphy.