Sea Level Rise Info

About Our Work

The Town of Islesboro’s Sea Level Rise Committee (SLRC) was created in 2018 to assess and understand the threats posed by sea level rise, storm surge, and related flooding events and to develop recommendations for the actions necessary to become more resilient. We work to:

  • Increase understanding and awareness of sea level rise predictions, and the extent of threat to our island community;
  • Assess and evaluate adaptation strategies for minimizing vulnerability;
  • Develop recommendations and action plans for addressing threats posed by this challenge and identifying resources to support an implementation plan.

The committee's focus is currently on the Narrows, but we are aware of the need to address other points of vulnerability around the island:

  • Ferry Road and Grindle Point Parking Lot
  • Sprague’s Beach
  • Electrical cable link site on West Bay Road
  • Dark Harbor Town Septic System

2024 Activity Summary and Recent Updates

In January of 2024, the SLRC began working with GZA Geoenvironmental Inc. to conduct an alternative analysis study at the Narrows. The study will include three 15% design alternatives, completed in May of 2024, and one selected design to be developed further and complete by December 2024.

The SLRC had their kick-off meeting with GZA project managers on January 18th, 2024 in which community risk tolerance was evaluated, information on community concern, gathered during 2023 Small Group Meetings, was shared, and elevation and coordinate data was gathered.

Information from this meeting and other project updates were shared with the community on January 27th during a presentation at the Alice Pendleton Library.

The presentation can be accessed HERE with the password: w%+vwKW1 (skip to 6:40 for beginning).

The committee will be presenting further project updates at the Town Informational Meeting on April 10th at the Kinnicutt Center. More details to come.

Narrows Flooding Adaptation Plan and Timeline

2023 Activity Summary

In April of 2023, the SLRC hired Shri Verrill of Sunrise Ecologic as Project Manager to move the Narrows adaptation project forward. As part of her role, Shri will assist the SLRC in facilitating community engagement by working closely with a Fellow from the Island Institute, and developing an adaptation plan that is informed by community input. Additionally, she will guide the committee to obtain preliminary designs and permitting for the Narrows in the Spring of 2025.

Shri holds a Masters of Science in Biology with expertise in coastal ecology/biology, is a Certified Ecological Restoration Practitioner (CERP # 0589) and is currently in the role of Service Provider for Boothbay, Boothbay Harbor, Southport, and Wiscasset. Additionally, she has worked with communities in Washington, Hancock, Piscataquis, Oxford, Lincoln, and Kennebec counties in various capacities, offering technical support, project planning, development and management, grant writing, and other services to support large scale restoration projects. The Project Manager position is funded through a Community Action Grant through the Community Resilience Partnership.

Throughout the Summer of 2023, members of the SLRC engaged in small group discussions with organizations around the island to present the Narrows adaptation project to members of the community; the broad goal was to obtain input on what is already known about the problem at hand, and what we, as a community, should be doing about it. These discussions aimed to educate the community on the effects of sea level rise on the Maine coast. The SLRC introduced themselves, Shri, and Liv to actively engage in a facilitated Q&A, to listen to common community questions, and to hear the concerns and ideas of community members regarding the project.

These small presentations were held at several locations throughout July and August, and will continue into the Fall of 2023.

In early August, the committee presented their progress and next steps for the Narrows project at the town summer information meeting. This meeting was held in the Kinnicutt center and drew a large audience, as several committees presented their work and other important town updates were shared. Shri Verrill and Shey Conover, chair of the SLRC, presented on what we know and do not know about the future of sea level rise, shared footage of flooding events from December 2022, and explained the project timeline and next steps. This event concluded with an open Q&A and provided input into what concerns and hopes Islesboro residents have regarding future flooding at the Narrows.

In November, the SLRC put out an RFQ for the Narrows Flooding Adaptation project.  After a full committee review and interview process, the committee hired GZA Geoenvironmental Inc. to conduct an engineering study at the Narrows, which will include three 15% preliminary design alternatives and one selected 30% design.

2018 - 2022 Activity Summary

In December 2022, The Town of Islesboro was awarded a $50,000 Community Action Grant from Maine’s Community Resilience Partnership program. This two-year grant allowed us to contract a part-time Project Manager to coordinate and manage community engagement and work to assess, plan, fund, and implement a sea level rise adaptation project located at The Narrows. The contracted Project Manager will work with a consulting engineer team to evaluate options to redesign The Narrows to improve current and future resilience using Maine Won’t Wait sea level rise intermediate planning scenarios.

The project team will utilize input from the community, SLR predictions, historical and cultural implications, and wildlife and environmental impacts to collaboratively develop a Request for Quotes (RFQ) engineering package that will be advertised for an alternatives analysis.

Additionally, in the fall of 2022, the Town of Islesboro enrolled in the State of Maine’s Community Resilience Partnership Program (CRP). The CRP assists communities to reduce carbon emissions, transition to clean energy, and become more resilient to the effects of climate change, such as  extreme weather, flooding, rising sea levels, public health impacts, and more. To view Islesboro's Municipal Resolution click here.

Islesboro Community Resilience Partnership

Previous Work

In 2015, prior to the creation of the Islesboro Sea Level Rise Committee, The Maine Coastal Program awarded the Select Board a grant opportunity to study the risk of coastal flooding and storm surges at the Narrows and Grindle Point. At the May 31, 2016 Select Board meeting, Ransom Engineering, the company hired to perform the study, presented the Board with the following report which has served as a guide going forward for coastal resiliency planning for the Town.

Coastal Storm Vulnerability Grindle Point and The Narrows (5/31/2017)

Present and Future Vulnerability to Coastal Flooding at Grindle Point and The Narrows (8/21/2017)

CES Narrows Reconstruction Project (2/21/20)

In the News:

Village Soup: https://waldo.villagesoup.com/news/islesboro-finishes-sea-level-rise-checklist-considers-town-s-vulnerabilities/article_80b60492-24aa-5602-9a83-66cd822c4907.html

Maine Public: https://www.mainepublic.org/climate/2023-01-26/for-maine-island-communities-sea-level-rise-isnt-a-future-threat-its-here-now

Susie Arnold presentation (starts around 15:30): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bf5kwt_WUFI

IIN May/June 2023

IIN July/August 2023

IIN November/December 2023

Sea Level Rise Resources:

These resources are helpful for understanding our project at the Narrows, as well as the effects of sea level rise in Maine and beyond.

Island Institute Sea Level Rise learning video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fJSGvxoHV3g 

Video of the 12/23/2022 Storm at the Narrows: https://www.reddit.com/r/weather/comments/zu0d5x/islesboro_island_maine_an_hour_before_high_tide/ 

Maine Climate Impact Dashboard: https://storymaps.arcgis.com/collections/934e1d7f462740c69a279fbd8375969d?item=5 

Maine Won’t Wait Climate Action Plan: https://www.maine.gov/climateplan/

Resources for Property Owners:

These resources are for homeowners whose property may be threatened by sea level rise and increasing erosion. This is an ongoing list, but it is a start. The SLRC is working on creating an event for Winter 2023 with more information for homeowners.

https://www.mainecoastalprotection.com/

https://digitalmaine.com/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1605&context=mgs_publications

 

Sea Level Rise Committee

Member

   

Susan Stafford

Member

Chloe Joule

Member

Fred O Porter

Member

Peter Willcox

Member

Nancy Alexander

Member

Donna Leone

Member

Jennifer West

Ex Officio

Shey Conover

Island Fellow

Olivia Lenfestey