Cost-share grant programs that help off-set the cost of soft or hybrid shoreline stabilization projects can be very useful in promoting more environmentally-friendly shoreline protection techniques and preventing shoreline armoring. While cost-share programs can be expensive to run, low-interest, revolving loan assistance programs can be a less costly alternative that still encourages softer, more environmentally-friendly approaches to erosion control.
Benefits: A voluntary program that encourages good shoreline management practices through financial incentives. Helps maintain more natural shoreline processes and improves habitat value.
Drawbacks: Requires funding source. Also has added administrative costs to set up and run the program.
Maryland's Shore Erosion Control Program has been operating several types of financial assistance programs to support hybrid or non-structural approaches to streambank and shoreline erosion control since 1985. From 1985 to 1999 the state offered 50/50 matching grants to help with the design, construction and management of these types of projects on public or private lands using state funds. The state also offered 75-25 percent matching grants for non-structural or hybrid projects on public lands using federal funds. Due to lack of federal funds, state budget shortfalls and the draw-down of the Revolving Loan Fund, the grant assistance program had to be stopped indefinitely in 2000. Over its 15-year history, the cost-share program provided $8,776,000 in matching grants to support 420 projects.
The matching grant program was replaced by a zero-interest loan program that offers short-term loans to support non-structural or hybrid projects on private and public lands. Maryland uses state Special Funds to fund the loan program derived from the Shore Erosion Control Revolving Loan Fund. Typically, Maryland's Shore Erosion Control Program awards 12 to 15 low-interest loans a year. Loans to individual property owners are for 75 percent of the project cost, not to exceed $25,000. Loans for projects on public lands are for 100 percent of the project cost.
For both grant and loan assistance projects, staff from the Shore Erosion Control Program work closely with each applicant throughout the project to ensure that the project was designed correctly and the appropriate materials and methods were used for each stabilization project.