On November 9, 2018, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), NOAA and their partners announced $28.9 million in new grants for the restoration or expansion of natural features such as coastal marshes and wetlands, dune and beach systems, oyster and coral reefs, mangroves, forests, coastal rivers, and barrier islands.
The goal is to reduce the impacts of storms, rising sea levels and other extreme climate-change-related events on nearby communities and infrastructure in 22 states and Puerto Rico.
“For decades, Louisiana families have seen the devastation that hurricanes and flooding have left on our coastal communities and the habitats and local economies that support them,” said U.S. Sen. John Kennedy. “This new grant from the National Coastal Resilience Fund will help restore those coastal areas and habitats here and in other coastal states that are vulnerable.”
The 35 grants will generate $38.3 million in matching contributions, for a total restoration impact of $67.2 million.
Congress provided funding for Title IX of the National Oceans and Coastal Security Act, allowing grants to be awarded through a partnership between NFWF, NOAA, Shell Oil Company, and TransRe. These grants were then awarded through the newly-created National Coastal Resilience Fund (NCRF).
“For the communities and businesses all along America’s coastlines, storms and floods are worsening, seas are rising, and the infrastructure that props up our economy is aging. This new fund will provide support for those communities to protect their industries and way of life,” said U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse.
“I’m grateful to Senator Kennedy for joining me in this effort, and I’m excited to see the first awards going to these worthy projects in Rhode Island and across the country,” he continued.
One of the grants will help restore the He‘eia National Estuarine Research Reserve in Hawaii (shown at top). The He‘eia National Estuarine Research Reserve was the 29th in the NERR system. The He’eia wetlands will see a new natural constructed wetlands system to protect and enhance the ecosystem and community of Kane’ohe Bay. The project will minimize flood events, reduce sediment and nutrient run-off, and create habitat and fish passage for marine and estuarine species.
“Today is a very good day for the coasts,” said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of NFWF. “In just seven months, with a bipartisan appropriation, the Foundation worked with NOAA to hammer out the specifics of the program, and bring on board two corporate partners to support these grants. With today’s announcement, we’ve brought together the public and private sectors to maximize the resources available to conserve habitat and help coastal communities.”
One grant will restore 180 acres of tidal marsh habitat through the installation of a new water control structure and pump system at the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge in Pennsylvania, adjacent to the Philadelphia International Airport.
“As another active hurricane season comes to an end on November 30th, we are reminded of the critical importance of safeguarding the health of America’s coastline,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. “Through this latest partnership with private industry and NFWF, the Department of Commerce and NOAA will continue our mission to ensure the safety and long-term prosperity of the millions of Americans who call America’s coasts home.”
NFWF, in partnership with NOAA, launched the NCRF in 2018 to support on-the-ground projects that engage communities and reduce their vulnerability to growing risks from coastal storms, sea-level rise, flooding, erosion, wildfires, drought and extreme weather through strengthening natural ecosystems that also benefit fish and wildlife.
The projects supported by the 35 grants announced today advance innovative nature-based approaches to improve the resilience of coastal communities. Recognizing the need for action, these projects build on significant coordination and planning that has already been done by many coastal communities and will offer significant benefits for nearby communities and for fish and wildlife.
“We are delighted to participate in this important initiative,” said Mike Sapnar, TransRe’s CEO. “The insurance industry exists to help improve the resilience of communities worldwide. Resilience means being well-prepared before disasters strike, and we hope these NCRF grants will help save lives, jobs and communities in the years ahead.”
Featured photo by Manuel Mejia of The Nature Conservancy shows the He‘eia National Estuarine Research Reserve.