Fortify against sea rise and benefit farms

Towns across Connecticut are grasping for ways to steady the economy and generate tax revenue as they seek to close budget gaps and limit tax increases. One answer is as close as the need to protect our shoreline.

Climate change will continue to cause sea level rise and more frequent and powerful storms. Fortifying the coastline offers the state and its residents a huge economic opportunity. The work to fortify the coastline could also have significant benefit to the state’s agriculture industry

Relaxed coastal regulations may be necessary to facilitate the ability of individuals to fortify their coastal property. Private insurance companies could provide an incentive to individuals to fortify their property by decreasing insurance premiums. The state could provide further incentives through cost sharing or grants.

Through changes in regulations, the state can encourage the harvesting of rocks and boulders to create new cropland in the state. These rocks could then be used to fortifying the coast. Sale of rock will help farmers offset the cost of land clearing. One of Connecticut’s greatest resources is its pastoral beauty. More farms would make the state more beautiful, which would help the tourism industry.

The state should encourage the development of a regional rock handling facility at the grossly underutilized ports of Groton, New London, Preston, or Norwich. A regional rock handling facility would create an efficient marketplace for the sale of rock and boulder. This would make it easy for farmers and contractors to sell rock and boulder. Efficiency would make the price of rock and boulder as low as possible for the end purchaser.

The state or towns could place a tax on sale of rocks and boulders, structuring it in a way to encourage stone coming from agricultural sources. Protection would have to be given to the state’s stone walls, which are a cultural resource. The state would also receive sales and use tax on coastal fortification projects.

Coastal fortification would be a labor-intensive project that would require equipment and create jobs.

Global climate change is a challenge that we should greet willingly. If we take the opportunity to fortify our coastline, it could help our residents, our agricultural industry, our tourism industry, and our local economies.

Kevin Blacker lives in Noank, from which he operates a small landscaping company with his father. He is also a farmer with a Bachelor of Science in Soil Science degree from the University of New Hampshire. Andrew Blacker, who has a degree in Science in Natural Resource Economics from the University of Connecticut, also contributed to this commentary.



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