Coastal Resources Management Council

Courtesy of INSPIRE Environmental

Fishermen and scientists are trying to understand how the Block Island Wind Farm may affect fish in Rhode Island waters. This week Rhode Island Public Radio’s Ambar Espinoza reported on what we know and don't know yet about the impact of the offshore wind farm on fisheries. She joined Rhode Island Public Radio News Director Elisabeth Harrison for an update on acoustics, marine mammals and wildlife habitats.

Ambar Espinoza / RIPR

The nation’s first offshore wind farm off the coast of Block Island will start producing electricity any day now. It’s a pilot project that will change the way the people on this small island power their homes and businesses. They’ve relied on importing diesel fuel up to this point.

Courtesy of The Nature Conservancy and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Conservationists have kicked off a project this week to shore up thirty acres of salt marsh at the John H. Chafee National Wildlife Refuge. It’s one of the larger projects underway to make the state’s salt marshes more resistant to climate change.

Ambar Espinoza / RIPR

Rhode Island’s aquaculture industry grew by 7 percent last year despite icy conditions in coastal waters.

Frozen coastal ponds meant individual growers harvested less shellfish than the previous year, according to David Beutel, aquaculture coordinator with the state Coastal Resources Management Council.

“However because in 2015 we had more growers than we had the year before, overall the state's production was up,” said Beutel. “It did balance out for an overall increase.”

The demand for oysters is driving that overall growth, he said.

sand dunes
Ambar Espinoza / RIPR

Gov. Gina Raimondo’s proposed budget devotes about 1.1 percent of all state spending to the state’s two major environmental agencies: the Department of Environmental Management and the Coastal Resources Management Council. The DEM got a small bump from the governor’s last budget, while the CRMC held steady. We break down the numbers.

Ambar Espinoza / RIPR

A new house in Matunuck will sustain winds of more than 130 miles per hour. It’s the first home under construction in New England built to disaster certification standards known as FORTIFIED.

After a string of severe storms in recent years, the state hopes to shift to a more rigorous building code so that homes can sustain high winds and water damage.

Ambar Espinoza

Rhode Island’s state geologist and longtime advisor to the Coastal Resources Management Council has passed away. Jon Boothroyd died unexpectedly in his home last week at age 77.

Over the course of his career, Boothroyd studied many of the biggest challenges Rhode Island faces from sea level rise and coastal erosion. 

Ambar Espinoza / RIPR

Some of the highest tides of the year will reach Rhode Island shores over the next few days. The Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council is encouraging residents to take photos of the so-called “king tides” using their new mobile app. CRMC spokesperson Laura Dwyer said the pictures could provide a glimpse into the future.

“These tides over the next few days will really best illustrate how, how things will be how things will look with sea level rise, so this is a great way for us to visualize the impact,” said Dwyer.

Deepwater Wind is still on schedule to complete the first construction phase of the Block Island Wind Farm, despite issues related to equipment reliability and worker safety. Contractors have about one more month of construction to go, according to Grover Fugate, the executive director of the Coastal Resources Management Council.

Fugate said Deepwater Wind has gotten its contractors to implement safety recommendations and replace inadequate equipment for choppy ocean conditions.

Ambar Espinoza / RIPR

Deepwater Wind has installed the first of five steel foundations for a wind farm that will sit three miles off the coast of Block Island. The project is expected to produce enough energy to power 17,000 homes. State and federal officials got an up-close look at construction for the first time yesterday. Rhode Island Public Radio environmental reporter Ambar Espinoza was with them, and she reports that Rhode Island has become an example for how to build renewable energy. 

By law, the Coastal Resources Management Council should have two hearing officers to oversee contested cases. But the agency has gone without a full-time hearing officer for more than 10 years.

  The state’s largest environmental advocacy group, Save The Bay, has called on Gov. Gina Raimondo to appoint at least one full-time hearing officer to the CRMC.

Ambar Espinoza / RIPR

Rhode Island is more likely to lose than gain salt marshes due to the rate of rising sea levels. Those are the findings of a recent analysis by the Coastal Resources Management Council.

Ambar Espinoza / RIPR

The state Coastal Resources Management Council has awarded more than $200,000 to nine habitat restoration projects. The projects aim to protect from the impacts of climate change.

These nine habitat restoration projects span a good stretch of the state, from Napatree Point in Westerly to Quicksand Pond in Little Compton and Blackstone Park in Providence.

Ambar Espinoza / RIPR

Governor Gina Raimondo’s budget proposal includes some new initiatives for the environment, including a larger role for the state’s Clean Water Finance Agency. Rhode Island Public Radio’s environmental reporter Ambar Espinoza spoke with Rhode Island Public Radio's Elisabeth Harrison to discuss the environmental impact of the budget.

Ambar Espinoza / RIPR

Rhode Island is losing salt marshes at an alarming rate. Scientists and coastal planners say this is one of the most pressing climate change impacts already facing the Ocean State. Salt marshes are critical fish and wildlife habitats that support the state's fishing and tourism industries.

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