Community Resilience Building training session in Haverhill, Massachusetts.
Residents join a Community Resilience Building training session in Haverhill, Massachusetts. © Adam Whelchel/TNC

Stories in Massachusetts

Towns Take Action

The Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness program builds momentum for resilience in Massachusetts.

As severe storms and environmental threats loom larger, communities across Massachusetts are taking charge of their future through the Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness program—a collaboration between the state Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA), local governments, Mass Audubon and The Nature Conservancy.

Nearly 250 municipalities have received planning grants to host workshops that help communities prioritize their response to climate change impacts. 

Based on a Community Resilience Building framework developed by TNC and led by TNC-trained service providers, the workshops help cities and towns identify their environmental strengths and weaknesses and build an action plan to tackle those issues.

“On top of traditional hazard mitigation planning, we also aim to bring both climate change and the role of nature and its benefits to the forefront of conversations about building resilience,” says Sara Burns, water resource scientist for TNC in Massachusetts.

Community members gathered around maps on a table.
Planning for the Future Community members attend a community resilience building workshop. © Adam Whelchel/The Nature Conservancy

Preparedness Progress

In 2018, EEA awarded $5 million for 34 action grants to communities, enabling them to implement their resilience priorities. That number doubled in 2019: $10 million was awarded after an application process that saw more than 60 cities and towns seeking action grants.

Many of the funded proposals involve nature-based solutions, like Newbury’s assessment of the role shoreline salt marshes play in mitigating storm damage and Natick’s tree-planting efforts to cool neighborhoods and reduce runoff.

As of June 2019, about 70 percent of the state’s municipalities have joined the program. And the wins don’t stop there. “TNC successfully advocated for a new law that provides opportunities for long-term funding for this program,” says Steve Long, director of government relations for the Massachusetts chapter. “We are also seeing other states consider similar resilience-building programs.”