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RI Coastal Resources Management Council preserve, protect, develop, and restore coastal resources for all Rhode Islanders

CRMC, partners awarded NOAA funding for Winnapaug Pond project

April 22, 2024, WAKEFIELD — The R.I. Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC), along with the R.I. Department of Environmental Management (DEM), Narragansett Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (NBNERR), and the Town of Westerly have been awarded more than $2.5 million to improve the resilience of public access and habitat on Winnapaug Pond.

The funding comes from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) and Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) monies, awarded to Coastal Zone Management Programs and National Estuarine Research Reserves. A total of $2,635,000 will be dedicated to preserving five acres of land at the site of a former water park along an ecologically sensitive barrier peninsula in Westerly via a conservation easement.

“Our Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act continue to strengthen the Ocean State’s defenses against the climate crisis,” said U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. “This federal funding will support resiliency efforts and expand public access to Winnapaug Pond for more Rhode Islanders to enjoy.”

This project will enhance public access to Winnapaug Pond, which is currently limited. Future plans for the location include habitat restoration and public access enhancements for the purpose of town-led recreational and other programs on the pond.

“It’s important to ensure public access to Winnapaug Pond and protect our wetlands. I was pleased to work with my colleagues in the delegation to help deliver $2.6 million in federal funding for this critical project,” said U.S. Senator Jack Reed, a senior member of the Appropriations Committee. “This federal investment will help preserve and protect Winnapaug Pond and make it more accessible for all.”

Projects were competitively awarded from a group of 99 coastal programs and national estuarine research reserves with letters of intent requesting more than $227 million. Overall, $59.8 million was awarded for state and territory coastal management programs for 22 projects. A total of $15 million was awarded for national estuarine research reserves for eight projects, and $48 million in non-competitive funding was awarded to the 34 state and territorial coastal management programs and 30 national estuarine research reserves for essential planning, policy development and implementation, collaborative engagement, and implementation of adaptation strategies to help increase the resilience of coastal communities and their economies.

“The Winnapaug Pond is important to the health of Rhode Island’s coastal ecosystem, and I am pleased this federal funding will be used to protect and preserve it and expand public access for all Rhode Islanders to enjoy,” said Rep. Seth Magaziner, Member of the House Committee on Natural Resources.

“I am thrilled that the historic infrastructure law and the Inflation Reduction Act that Congressional Democrats passed continue to deliver results for Rhode Island and our precious coastal resources,” said Congressman Gabe Amo (RI-01). “This federal award is just the latest example of our delegation fighting for our state’s fair share of federal dollars. I am proud to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with my colleagues as we make a significant difference for Rhode Island.”

“The CRMC is pleased to be part of this worthy and important project on Winnapaug Pond and wishes to congratulate the partners and those who worked on the proposal,” said CRMC Chairman Raymond Coia. “Improving public access to the state’s coastal resources is paramount to the Council’s charge of ensuring access to the shore for all, and this project will make great strides toward that goal.”


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