From coral reefs in Florida and Hawaiʻi to salmon streams in Alaska, four regenerative projects are restoring vital wildlife habitat

The fisheries department of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA Fisheries) is funding four regenerative projects in 2023.

They will restore habitat through the coastal National Fish Habitat Partnerships.

These projects will actively engage local communities, including anglers, who make critical contributions to fish habitat conservation nationwide.

The projects demonstrate NOAA’s commitment to restoring fish habitat and supporting access to sustainable saltwater recreational fishing, a popular pastime that boosts the U.S. economy.

Florida Keys Seagrass Restoration

Sponsoring Partnership: Atlantic Coastal Fish Habitat Partnership

Over the next year, Coastal Conservation Association Florida and Sea & Shoreline, LLC, will work with volunteers to restore damaged seagrass beds in John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park.

The park borders the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. From 1995 to 2015, the amount of damaged seagrass habitat in the sanctuary nearly doubled. This was mainly due to scarring from propellers and vessel groundings on seagrass beds. This project is sponsored by the Atlantic Coastal Fish Habitat Partnership.

Local boat captains will bring young students to the project site to learn about the benefits of seagrass and the threats it faces. Sea & Shoreline staff will work with the student and captain volunteers to help recolonize seagrass through sediment tube installations. Trained biologists will monitor the site for 3 years post-restoration to assess seagrass recovery.

Community-Based Coral Restoration in West Oahu, Hawaiʻi

Sponsoring Partnership: Hawaiʻi Fish Habitat Partnership

Left: Kuleana Coral Restoration staff with coral fragment modules ready to outplant onto a reef. Right: Coral fragment modules in situ. Credit: Kuleana Coral Restoration.

Kuleana Coral Restoration will pilot a community-based coral restoration project at Pokai Bay in West O’ahu, Hawaiʻi.

It will build upon the success of last year’s NOAA-funded project through the Hawaiʻi Fish Habitat Partnership. The bay is an important subsistence and recreational fishing area for the local community.

Using input from community members to inform the project design, Kuleana Coral Restoration will work with local anglers and other community partners.

They will restore degraded reefs and educate the public on reef restoration.

These reefs are critical habitat for many target fish species and uphold the community’s way of life in the bay.

Reef restoration will be focused on Porites compressa, also known as finger coral.

Anglers will learn how to create finger coral fragment modules during interactive restoration demonstrations.

These modules will then be outplanted back onto reefs.

Restoring Stream Banks with Anglers near Anchorage, Alaska

Sponsoring Partnerships: Kenai Peninsula Fish Habitat Partnership and Matanuska Susitna Basin Salmon Habitat Partnership

Next spring, Trout Unlimited will work with partners on two projects to stabilize stream banks on popular trout and salmon-fishing rivers near Anchorage, Alaska. They will focus on the lower Kenai River and Montana Creek (a tributary of the Susitna River).

Local anglers, recreational fishing business staff, and tribal members will plant vegetation along nearly 600 feet of stream bank. This will improve rearing habitat for pink, chum, and coho salmon, as well as trout, and Dolly Varden.

The restoration work and following outreach efforts will increase community awareness of the importance of caring for the rivers, on which local fisheries depend. This project is supported by Kenai Peninsula Fish Habitat Partnership and Matanuska Susitna Basin Salmon Habitat Partnership.

Restoration and Angler Outreach near Juneau, Alaska

Sponsoring Partnership: Southeast Alaska Fish Habitat Partnership

Trout Unlimited (Tongass chapter) will work in close partnership with the City and Borough of Juneau, local anglers, and local fishing businesses. They will restore eroded stream banks on Montana Creek (a tributary of the Mendenhall River), near Juneau, Alaska.

The creek is a popular area for fishing and other forms of recreation. It has been experiencing high rates of erosion due to heavy use of social trails along its banks. This project will improve water quality conditions for important native trout and salmon species and enhance fishing opportunities in the watershed.

Partners will engage the local community by holding volunteer planting days to revegetate the stream banks. Additionally, they will launch a post-restoration outreach campaign aimed at preventing further erosion.

This includes posting signage to encourage community and angler stewardship of the creek.

This project is sponsored by the Southeast Alaska Fish Habitat Partnership.

Featured photo shows two workers revegetating banks along Montana Creek near Anchorage, Alaska to improve salmon habitat. Credit: Trout Unlimited.

See NOAA Fisheries website.

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