Volusia County to Seek Climate Resilience Grant

Volusia County to Seek Climate Resilience Grant

In what may be a record for the body, the Volusia County Council greenlit a request from staff to apply for a $50 million grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Clay Ervin, Volusia County director of growth and resource management, barely began his presentation when Councilmember David Santiago immediately made a motion to approve the application.

“The quick motion is testament to how much confidence we have in staff,” Santiago said.

The fact the grant requires no local funding match was likely also a selling point.

The grant comes from a pool of $575 million in funding for NOAA’s Climate Resilience Regional Challenge, an effort “to support collaborative approaches to achieving resilience in coastal regions with an emphasis on risk reduction, regional collaboration, equity and building enduring capacity,” according to a county staff report.

The grant process consists of two steps, beginning with a letter of intent followed by an invitation to submit a full application. Volusia County was one of 120 entities out of 869 selected to submit a full application.

The implementation plan includes four main activities, including property acquisition, mitigation, restoration and workforce development.

The property acquisition phase consists of efforts to reduce economic, health and social risks on flood-prone or vulnerable properties using perpetual conservation easements. The mitigation and restoration activities include low-impact development techniques, passive recreation and public access efforts, wetland and wetland buffer restoration and partnerships with local universities.

The workforce development element would establish a native plant nursery at the Volusia County Correctional Facility to produce species native to coastal habitats to be used for restoration projects along the county’s Atlantic coastline and Indian River Lagoon, according to the staff report.

The grant award is expected to begin in the fall of 2024 and run for a maximum of 60 months.

County Council Chairman Jeff Brower praised county staff for their efforts in pursuing the grant opportunity.

“We had a lot of people in front of us,” he said. “Thank you for your hard work.”