NOAA is funding $950,000 for habitat restoration in six Habitat Focus Areas (HFAs). The projects build on the work initiated in 2017 and will continue to restore habitat, support sustainable fisheries and resilient communities, and educate coastal residents. NOAA’s Habitat Focus Areas, a pillar of the NOAA Habitat Blueprint, are targeted places where NOAA is partnering to measurably improve habitat conditions for fisheries, protected resources, and coastal communities.
Investing in habitat conservation projects leads to real, lasting differences for communities, businesses, and the environment. Project awards were selected through a competitive grant process in 2017, most of which received additional funding in 2018. 2019 represents the last year of funding for these multi-year projects.
While six HFAs are receiving 2019 funding, two other HFAs – Muskegon Lake, Michigan and Russian River, California – continue to use funding from previous years to execute habitat restoration projects.
Reducing Land-Based Sources of Pollution: From Satellites to Grassroots ($85,000): This project, in partnership with Miami Waterkeeper, will support an educational “Day on the Bay” event for public officials as well as landowner- and community leader-targeted education about best management practices for reducing nutrient inputs into the Bay. The project will also implement the Miami Waterkeeper Junior Ambassadors Program cultivating a proactive and engaged citizenry via water sampling and in-person trainings; and conduct opportunistic water sampling and utilize existing compliance assessment report to conduct specific investigations into high risk pollution areas. Recreational activities in Biscayne Bay contribute over 10% of the total Miami economy, accounting for over $12 billion and over 130,000 jobs, and increasing nutrient loads which result in persistent algal blooms threaten this important economic driver.
Hambleton Island Living Shoreline and Oyster Restoration Demonstration Project ($132,131): In partnership with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, this oyster restoration project in the Choptank River HFA will increase the population of native Eastern oysters in the Little Choptank River and Tred Avon River, help with shoreline stabilization, and protect against sea level rise. Hambleton Island, on Maryland’s Eastern Shore in the Choptank River Habitat Focus Area, has suffered the effects of years of erosion caused by sea level rise and has split from one land mass into three. Protecting Hambleton Island from further erosion is expected to enhance its ability to perpetuate over time and extend protection to the surrounding residential community. This long-term progress and success will hinge on securing and sustaining public support for oyster restoration.
Building Community Capacity for the Habitat Restoration and Conservation in the Manell Geus Habitat Focus Area ($179,400): In partnership with The Nature Conservancy, this project will provide training in watershed and reef restoration techniques, obtaining restoration materials, and coordination of implementation of community restoration projects in order to build capacity for coral reef conservation and management. Activities will include education and outreach, bamboo removal, installation of sediment socks, implementation of reef restoration projects, and biophysical and socioeconomic assessments. The Manell-Geus watershed contains eleven rivers that drain into a rich and diverse coastal area that includes fringing, barrier, and patch reefs which support cultural and subsistence harvests, as well as a number of tour operations. Deforestation, poor stormwater management, and invasive bamboo have all contributed to erosion leading to significant water quality impairments such as sedimentation on coral reefs.
Expanding Efforts on Building Resiliency in the Puerto Rico Northeast Reserves by Addressing Land-Based Sources of Pollution (LBSPs) and Restoring Coral Reef Habitat ($153,893): In response to the recent habitat declines, especially for coral reefs, Protectores de Cuencas aims to improve management of the watershed and reduce land-based sources of pollution. Additionally, the project will expand coral restoration efforts through coral farms and outplanting and a community-based social marketing campaign aims to reduce boating and recreational impacts to nearshore habitats. The Northeast Marine Corridor and Culebra Island support important coastal ecosystems that help sustain human livelihoods, recreational usage, and a high biodiversity, and are therefore vital for the economic growth in these regions.
Extending Mainstream River Gains to Strategic Sea-run Fish Spawning and Rearing Habitat ($200,000): For nearly two centuries, the health and survival of native sea-run fish populations in the Penobscot River have faced many challenges, particularly barriers to fish passage that impede or completely sever up and downstream migration, inundate habitat, and reduce water quality, causing species declines and preventing recovery. This project, in partnership with The Nature Conservancy, builds on over a decade of restoration work in the Penobscot River implementing habitat restoration projects and engaging in outreach and education. Specific activities include: designing and constructing nature-like fishways at Parker Pond and Baskahegan Lake; and implementing culvert replacements in Allen Stream, Roaring Brook, and Stinking Brook.
Community and Coral Restoration and Resilience in the West Hawai’i Habitat Focus Area ($200,000): The coastal and marine habitats of West Hawai’i are negatively affected by erosion and sediment deposition from denuded watersheds, delivery of nutrients and pathogens from wastewater and land use, unsustainable harvest of fish and other marine life, and increasing ocean temperatures linked to climatic events. In partnership with The Nature Conservancy, this project includes activities such as: organizing community action planning and spatial planning to support a community-based fishery management area and the State of Hawaii’s 30X30 Initiative; working with landowners and partners to identify impediments and incentives to improve coral health through the reduction of sediment; working with coastal resorts to implement land use changes to improve coral health by reducing nutrients; and providing management tools and easily accessible information to promote informed management decisions.