Coastal Community Resilience in Maine

Created: 12/17/2010 - Updated: 3/02/2020


As part of its mission, Maine Sea Grant educates communities on important marine and coastal issues. This project was developed to 1) uncover the barriers that coastal property owners and officials are faced with in preparing for climate change and coastal hazards, and 2) encourage collaboration between stakeholders to create and implement responses.


Between 2007 and 2009, Maine Sea Grant interviewed coastal property owners and municipal officials in order to gauge beliefs and perceptions on climate change and coastal hazards. The ultimate goal was to increase understanding and coastal community resilience by facilitating communication and cooperation between coastal property owners, officials, and others to prepare for climate change and coastal hazards in the state. The impacts of highest concern along Maine’s coast include sea level rise, erosion, flooding, increased storminess, and habitat loss and/or alteration.


Maine Sea Grant and Oregon Sea Grant received a two-year NOAA Sectoral Applications Research Program (SARP) grant to assess the resilience of coastal communities in both states to coastal hazards and climate change. In Maine, Maine Sea Grant partnered with the Maine Geological Survey, University of Maine Cooperative Extension, Maine Coastal Program, Climate Change Institute, and the Center for Research and Evaluation to assess coastal communities. With assistance from the Center for Research and Evaluation, Maine Sea Grant developed a needs assessment, outreach plan, and evaluation that targeted coastal property owners and municipal officials.

The needs assessment consisted of six focus groups (70 participants) from 11 coastal communities and surveys sent to nearly 7,000 coastal property owners and 240 municipal officials throughout 2007 and 2008. Participants were asked about information needs; attitudes towards climate change and coastal hazards; behaviors of coastal property owners concerning shoreline protection and management; observed changes to the coastline (e.g., erosion rates); and attitudes regarding federal-state-local lines of communication and resulting action or inaction in shoreline management. The results of this assessment were used to design the overall outreach message and materials.

Project leads used the feedback from the focus groups and surveys to determine common threads in attitudes about climate change and coastal hazards and compare results across the two targeted audiences: coastal property owners and municipal officials. This information also led to the creation of an outreach plan.

The evaluation component was meant to allow Maine Sea Grant to analyze the effectiveness of their educational efforts in altering the perceptions and, ultimately, behavior of coastal property owners and municipal officials toward climate change and sea level rise. A small-scale evaluation of the educational materials demonstrated that understanding of the issues was increased; a behavior shift would require more detailed and longer-term follow up efforts.

Outcomes and Conclusions

Oregon Sea Grant produced a five-part documentary for Maine Sea Grant entitled Building a Resilient Coast: Maine Confronts Climate Change. Forty-five participants at two June 2009 workshops in Kennebunk and Rockland viewed the documentary and then engaged in peer and expert panel discussion about the results of the project. In addition, a final technical report was released in 2010 about Maine’s efforts on the project, Climate Variability and Coastal Community Resilience: Developing and Testing a National Model and State-based Outreach.


Information gathered from interviews and online resources. Updated 12/15/2010.


Gregg, R. M. (2010). Coastal Community Resilience in Maine [Case study on a project of Maine Sea Grant]. Product of EcoAdapt's State of Adaptation Program. Retrieved from CAKE: (Last updated December 2010)


Scale of Project
Community / Local
State / Provincial
Sector Addressed
Development (socioeconomic)
Land Use Planning
Public Health
Transportation / Infrastructure
Target Climate Changes and Impacts
Habitat extent
Sea level rise
Storms or extreme weather events
Climate Type
1-3 years
Type of Adaptation Action/Strategy
Capacity Building
Increase / Improve public awareness, education, and outreach efforts
Conduct / Gather additional research, data, and products
Conduct vulnerability assessments and studies
Host adaptation training or planning workshop
Create stakeholder engagement processes to develop and implement adaptation strategies
Effort Stage

Related Resources