BOEM agreements with Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Maine yield new data on offshore sand resources and coastal geology

Last edited 09/05/2019
Contact Information

Contact: Marjorie Weisskohl (BOEM),, (703) 787-1304

Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Maine are among the 13 Atlantic states that signed cooperative agreements with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management in 2014 to help coastal communities recover from Hurricane Sandy and promote resilient coastal systems. The $3 million allocated between the 13 states supports state efforts to update maps and databases on offshore sand resources and coastal geology. 

Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Maine’s coastal towns saw severe impacts from Hurricane Sandy. To carry out President Obama’s commitment to coastal recovery and resilient coastal systems, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) was involved from the beginning and signed cooperative agreements with each state in 2014. Partners were the University of Rhode Island, with advisory support from the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council; University of Massachusetts-Amherst; and the Maine Coastal Program and Maine Geological Survey. Although New England states have not requested sand from federal waters, they are evaluating its potential use as material from upland sources becomes more expensive and its transport generates neighborhood air quality and road impact issues. 

The co-ops shared some common elements—to evaluate offshore sand and/or gravel resources and associated benthic habitat in federal waters, and to update maps and databases of offshore sand or gravel which might be needed in the future. Massachusetts is coordinating with the Coastal Zone Management office and the state’s geological survey to integrate all the data. Rhode Island is also identifying available geologic, benthic habitat and cultural resources to aid in planning. For the first time in its history, Maine has established a seafloor mapping program as a result of the agreement.

The agreements are generating local jobs and ocean science training. Three Narragansett Indian Tribal youth from Rhode Island earned Marine Mammal Observer certifications as part of the sand research in a related BOEM-URI study focused on submerged paleo-cultural landscapes, habitat and cultural resources, including some within potential sand borrow areas. Seven UMass undergraduates participated in lab and field work; one graduate student is studying cores collected through the ASAP project.

To date, job creation in the 13 states includes six full-time positions, including one veteran and 23 part-time positions

More information: 

Marine Minerals Program 

Marine Minerals Program Offshore and resources 

Maine:  Maine Coastal Mapping Initiative


Rhode Island: 


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