AUGUSTA, Maine — The Maine Coastal Program at the State Planning Office announced Friday that $291,000 in grants will be awarded for eight projects along the Maine coast.

The grants are expected to enhance public access to the shore, reduce clam flat closures and improve water quality.

Grants were awarded to the following public organizations:

City of Belfast: $40,000 for a conceptual design and engineering plan that identifies the feasibility of constructing 2.15 miles of a multiuse pedestrian and bicycle path within the railroad right of way adjacent to the Passagassawakeag River.

Midcoast Council of Governments: $47,500 to study and potentially open closed clam flats in collaboration with the Kennebec Estuary Land Trust, Maine Department of Marine Resources, Maine Department of Environmental Protection, shellfish conservation committees of Woolwich, Phippsburg, West Bath and Georgetown, and the Androscoggin Valley Soil and Water Conservation District.

Southern Maine Regional Planning Commission: $29,400 to implement water quality improvement recommendations from the Piscataqua Region Estuary Plan in Kittery, York and South Berwick. SMRPC will work with each community on specific strategies that will support improved water quality.

Town of Topsham: $40,000 to hold public planning meetings for a Lower Village waterfront park and to develop, based on public input, a final design for the park. The town of Topsham has worked toward this goal since at least the early 1990s as part of the town’s comprehensive plans, (1992 and 2005), 1996 Maine Street Plan and 2008 Main Street Village Plan.

Hancock County Planning Commission: $35,000 for a Blue Hill Bay watershed needs assessment. Hancock County Planning Commission will work with the Friends of Blue Hill Bay and the towns of Trenton, Ellsworth, Mount Desert, Bar Harbor, Tremont, Surry, Blue Hill and Brooklin to engage communities, businesses, residents and organizations in a program to assess the resources and threats to Blue Hill Bay. The goal of the project is to bring the partners together to develop a shared vision of the needs and potential solutions to challenges confronting the region.

City of Portland: $39,200 to develop an education campaign on stormwater management and stormwater infrastructure. The city, in partnership with the Casco Bay Estuary Project, will engage businesses, community leaders and residents in a discussion of the need for infrastructure maintenance and improvement and will work toward developing a funding mechanism to meet that need.

Lincoln County Regional Planning Commission: $35,040 to evaluate the risks to infrastructure and the natural environment resulting from increasingly severe and more frequent coastal storms. LCRPC will work in partnership with Lincoln County, Maine Geologic Survey and the 16 communities within Lincoln County.

Town of Wells: $25,000 to undertake a feasibility study, obtain public input and design a pedestrian bridge to connect the eastern and western shores within the harbor and beach areas. This work responds to the town’s 2005 comprehensive plan which calls for an updated harbor plan and development of ecotourism programs and facilities to enhance the town’s tourism economy.

The grants are made possible by Maine’s federal coastal management award from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration. All of the projects include collaboration among partnerships, and each grantee will provide a minimum of 25 percent in matching funds or service.