$70K Grant To Support Coastal Bays Efforts

OCEAN CITY – The Maryland Coastal Bays Program will use $70,000 in funding from the EPA to support two local programs.

Last week, the Maryland Coastal Bays Program announced it had received $70,000 from the EPA to expand and support two programs on the Eastern Shore.

Officials said 70% of the funding will be used to revive a coastal stewards program at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore while roughly 30% will be dedicated to the “Protect Our Sand and Sea Program” in Ocean City.

“Coastal Bays just received $70,000 in funding to go to two programs,” Development and Marketing Coordinator Sandi Smith told the Ocean City Coastal Resources Legislative Committee this week. “One of them is this program.”

Earlier this year, Ocean City’s Coastal Resources Legislative Committee, or Green Team, and its partners – the Maryland Coastal Bays Program, Ocean City Surf Club, Ocean City Surfrider Foundation and the Town of Ocean City – introduced a source-reduction campaign aimed at the use of plastics and polystyrene products prevalent in the resort’s hospitality industry. The program promotes businesses that voluntarily commit to using fewer plastic products.

Smith told the Green Team this week officials will formally launch the campaign at a press conference scheduled for July 23.

“The funding we’ve received we’ll continue to use through next summer …,” she said.

In an interview this week, Smith said the EPA funding is one of several grants supporting source reduction measures in Ocean City. The initiative has also received funding from Keep America Beautiful, Keep Maryland Beautiful, the Worcester County Health Department and NOAA.

Spearheaded by the Maryland Coastal Bays Program, the EPA grant provides funding to promote local businesses who agree to reduce single use plastics. The campaign will also include canvas bags promoting the benefits of going green and reducing the use of plastic bags in the watershed.

The “Protect Our Sand and Sea Program” initiative comes on the heels of the highly successful “Strawless Summer” program. Last year, the Surfrider Foundation’s Ocean City chapter launched the initiative focused on reducing plastic straw consumption by pledging to not use plastic straws. To date, 70 restaurants and 500 individuals have signed the pledge.

As of this week, Smith said 28 restaurants in Ocean City have signed up to participate in the new source reduction program.

“We just have to keep pounding the pavement,” she said.

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.