U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse today joined with state officials and community partners along the shore of Gull Cove in Portsmouth to announce a new $200,000 federal grant for the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM). 

In partnership with Save The Bay and The Nature Conservancy, RIDEM will use the funding to improve shoreline access and coastal resiliency at Gull Cove and Quonochontaug Pond Breachway in Charlestown.

“The resiliency projects at Gull Cove and Quonnie Pond Breachway will improve shoreline access for Rhode Islanders and strengthen coastal defenses against rising seas and storms,” said Whitehouse in a statement.  “I worked hard to create the National Coastal Resilience Fund so the Ocean State could rely on a dedicated stream of funding to prepare for and adapt to climate change.” 

The grant comes from the National Coastal Resilience Fund, which Whitehouse created to restore and strengthen the natural infrastructure that protects coastal communities, according to a press release from Senator Whitehouse’s office.  The bipartisan infrastructure law passed late last year included $492 million over five years for the National Coastal Resilience Fund, which is jointly administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Both Gull Cove and the Quonochontaug Pond Breachway have experienced increased flooding and erosion due to climate change, damaging parts of the coastline and complicating vehicle and pedestrian access.  RIDEM will use the funding to complete designs and permitting for nature-based improvements.  Plans include increasing native shoreline vegetation and restoring wetlands, as well as removing damaged infrastructure and reconfiguring vehicle access points. 

“With the sea level having risen almost a foot on Aquidneck Island since 1930, the resulting erosion along with increased coastal flooding and more frequent and intense storms have compromised access to important shoreline sites such as Gull Cove,” said RIDEM Director Terry Gray in a statement.  “But for Senator Whitehouse’s legislation creating the National Coastal Resilience Fund in 2018, DEM might not have a means to fund the repair and preservation of Gull Cove, which constituents flock to for recreational fishing, shellfishing, birdwatching, and boating.  DEM appreciates Senator Whitehouse’s foresight in establishing the National Coastal Resilience Fund and his going to bat to ensure that Rhode Islanders have safe access to the coastline that we all love so much.”

RIDEM previously won a $75,000 grant from the National Coastal Resilience Fund in 2019 to advance resiliency efforts on Quonochontaug Pond.  Other past recipients of National Coastal Resilience Fund grants include the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council, and the University of Rhode Island and Friends of Green Hill Pond.

“It’s no secret that climate change impacts are already being seen and felt around Narragansett Bay.  Resilience projects, like the one taking place at Gull Cove, are critical to ensuring that our local habitats and ecosystems can remain healthy throughout these changes,” said Save The Bay executive director Jonathan Stone in a statement.  “We’re thrilled to celebrate this National Coastal Resilience Fund award and the next phase of this project, which will decrease erosion, manage stormwater runoff, and improve public access, and are grateful for the advocacy and support of Senator Whitehouse and his staff in making it possible.  Projects like these can only be achieved when many different groups and agencies come together to address the challenges that impact us all.”

“Rhode Island is a natural leader on climate resilience and these new projects illustrate that,” said John Torgan, Rhode Island State Director of The Nature Conservancy in a statement.  “We build scalable projects that use nature-based solutions to address coastal erosion and habitat loss in a way that is cost-effective and enhances public access to the tidal waters.”

Ryan Belmore is the Owner and Publisher of What'sUpNewp. 
Belmore has been involved with What’sUpNewp since shortly after its launch in 2012, proudly leading it to be named Best Local News Blog in Rhode Island by Rhode Island Monthly readers in 2018, 2019, and 2020 and an honorable mention in the Common Good Awards in 2021.

Born and raised in Rhode Island, Belmore graduated from Coventry High School and the Community College of Rhode Island. In addition to living in Newport for 10 years, he has lived in Portsmouth, Coventry, Providence, Smithfield, Burrillville, and East Greenwich.

Belmore currently serves as Vice President of the Board Of Directors for Fort Adams Trust and on the Board of Directors for Potter League For Animals. He previously served on the Board of Lucy's Hearth and the Arts & Cultural Alliance for Newport County.

Belmore and his wife, Jen, currently live in Alexandria, Virginia, a move they made in 2021. Read more about that here - https://whatsupnewp.com/2021/09/letter-from-the-publisher-some-personal-news/

Belmore visits Newport every couple of weeks to support the 12+ paid contributors What'sUpNewp has on the ground across Rhode Island, a place he called home for 39 years.

Belmore is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers, Society of Professional Journalists, and the North American Snowsports Journalists Association.

In 2020, Belmore was named Member of the Year by LION and won the Arts & Cultural Alliance of Newport County's Dominque Award.
Belmore can be contacted at ryan@whatsupnewp.com and 401-662-1653.