Conserving coastal wetland habitats is essential to ensure that important habitats, wildlife and coastal communities continue to thrive for future generations. Today, the US Fish and Wildlife Service is providing more than $ 20 million to support 25 projects in 13 coastal states to protect, restore or enhance more than 61,000 acres of coastal wetlands and adjacent upland habitats in under the National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant Program. These projects will help mitigate the effects of climate change on coastal areas, many of which have already been significantly altered and stressed by storms, sea level rise, human activity and invasive species.
State, local and tribal governments, private landowners, conservation groups and other partners will contribute more than $ 17.6 million in additional funds to these projects. These grants will have broad benefits for local economies, people and wildlife – by strengthening coastal resilience, reducing flood risk, stabilizing shorelines and protecting natural ecosystems.
These grants help states and tribes protect and restore important coastal habitat supporting a mainstay of the Biden-Harris administration America the Beautiful initiative contributing to the goal of conserving 30 percent of our land and water by 2030.
“Coastal wetlands provide important habitat for fish, wildlife and plants that support natural infrastructure and help protect coastal communities from storm flooding and sea level rise,” said Shannon Estenoz, Assistant Secretary for Fisheries, Wildlife and Parks. “These grants symbolize the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to build back better – by creating and restoring sustainable natural systems that benefit wildlife and people in the future.”
The 2022 grants will also help recover coastal dependent species, improve flood protection and water quality, provide economic benefits to coastal communities and tribes, increase opportunities for outdoor recreation. and benefit the habitat and wildlife of several national wildlife refuges.
The Service awards grants of up to $ 1 million to states on the basis of a national competition, which enables states to determine and meet their highest conservation priorities in coastal areas. Since 1992, the Service has awarded more than $ 400 million in grants under the program.
The states receiving funds this year are Alabama, Alaska, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawai’i, Maine, Maryland, Oregon, South Carolina and Washington. Review the list of projects funded by the 2022 Grants Program, which includes the following:
Land Acquisition on Little Tiger Island
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, in partnership with the North Florida Land Trust, is receiving $ 1 million to acquire and permanently protect 981 acres of salt marsh and maritime forest in Nassau County, Florida. This grant will leverage additional funds from Florida Forever, the North Florida Land Trust, Audubon Florida and a private donor. The property’s ecosystems are home to several federally listed and candidate species, including the piping plover, red knot, waffle turtle, wood stork, Atlantic and shortnose sturgeon, and West Indian manatee. . The parcel connects a network of conserved lands stretching from St. Andrew Sound in Georgia to the St. Johns River in Florida, and it will be managed as part of Fort Clinch State Park.
North Fork Siuslaw Tidal Wetlands
The Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board is receiving $ 520,527 to acquire 247 acres of old pasture and wetlands adjacent to the North Fork of the Siuslaw River near Florence, Oregon. The project will transform ownership of a dyked cattle pasture into a functioning ecosystem that will provide habitat for a diversity of terrestrial and aquatic species. A future phase will reconnect approximately 236 acres of floodplain to the North Fork Siuslaw River through a dike breach, restoring historic tidal hydrology and creating secondary features that promote habitat complexity. Once tidal hydrology is restored and secondary channels reform, habitat complexity and diversity will increase, creating conditions for diverse estuarine flora and fauna, including spawning habitat for salmon. Oregon coho listed.
Acquisition of Livingston Bay
The Washington Department of Ecology, in partnership with the Whidbey Camano Land Trust, is receiving $ 1 million to acquire 93.5 acres and a conservation easement on an additional 32 acres. The project is in collaboration with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Stillaguamish and Tulalip tribes. The site consists of ancient estuarine and wetland habitats that include 25 acres of swamps and 2,600 feet of Puget Sound shoreline on Camano Island, Washington. The project will contribute to the recovery efforts of the Puget Sound ecosystem by enabling land protection and subsequent restoration of the tidal estuary and wetlands that will increase the critical habitat available for several species of fish and animals. wild, including Puget Sound Chinook Salmon and Puget Sound Rainbow Trout. Port Susan Bay is also a key stopover along the Pacific Flyway for migratory waterfowl.
The wetlands of coastal watersheds are diverse and complex ecosystems that are vital to the country’s economy and an important part of the country’s natural heritage. Coastal wetlands in the United States include both salt marshes in estuaries and freshwater wetlands that extend within coastal watersheds. They provide critical habitat for fish, birds and other wildlife, including breeding grounds, nurseries, shelter and food.