NOAA’s Habitat Focus Areas, which fall under the NOAA Habitat Blueprint, are targeted places where NOAA is partnering to measurably improve habitat conditions for fisheries, protected resources, and coastal communities. These new projects will educate coastal residents, restore habitats, and support sustainable fisheries and resilient communities.
Investing in habitat restoration and recovery projects leads to real, lasting differences for communities, businesses, and the environment. Project awards were selected through a competitive process and are recommended for funding in fiscal year 2017. At this point in the selection process, the application approval and obligation of funds is not final.
Biscayne Bay Habitat Focus Area (Florida)
Reducing Land-Based Sources of Pollution: From Satellites to Grassroots ($84,997): This project, in partnership with Miami Waterkeeper, will support an educational “Day on the Bay” events 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, conduct a stormwater permit compliance assessment, and respond to citizen-reported incidents of pollution or algal blooms all in support of improving Biscayne Bay water quality. Recreational activities in Biscayne Bay contribute over 10% to 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.
Choptank River Habitat Focus Area (Maryland/Delaware)
Choptank River Habitat Focus Area Oyster Restoration Demonstration Project ($131,985): In partnership with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, this Maryland oyster restoration project in the Choptank River HFA will increase the population of native Eastern oysters in the Little Choptank River, Harris Creek, and the Tred Avon River. Spat-on-shell oysters and adult oysters (from oyster gardeners) will be planted at these sites. Citizen engagement and volunteers will be incorporated in nearly every facet of the project. Securing and sustaining public support for oyster restoration is key to long-term progress and success.
Manell-Geus Habitat Focus Area (Guam)
Building Community Capacity for the Habitat Restoration and Conservation in the Manell-Geus Habitat Focus Area ($145,883): 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.
Muskegon Lake Habitat Focus Area (Michigan)
Integrating Science and Restoration in Muskegon Lake Habitat Focus Area ($50,000): Historically, Muskegon Lake was heavily used by industry, resulting in a legacy of pollutants that lead to its being listed as a Great Lakes Area of Concern (AOC). This project, in partnership with West Michigan Shore Regional Development Commission, supports the HFA’s goal to develop collaborative research partnerships to help fill science information gaps and monitor the effectiveness of the restoration work.
Activities will include: coordinating stakeholder engagement and outreach to the community; conducting habitat restoration to improve coastal resiliency at Muskegon Lake AOC shoreline habitat sites; monitoring fish abundance and community structure at six sites to assess success of prior restoration efforts; enhancing the Muskegon Lake Observatory to determine the extent of the hypoxic zone in the watershed; and developing a 3-D hydrodynamic model of Muskegon Lake.
Northeast Marine Corridor and Culebra Island Habitat Focus Area (Puerto Rico)
Expanding Efforts on Building Resiliency in the Puerto Rico Northeast Reserves by Addressing Land-Based Sources of Pollution (LBSPs) and Restoring Coral Reef Habitat ($218,337): In response to the recent habitat declines, especially coral reefs, NOAA is partnering with Protectores de Cuencas aims to better manage 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.
Penobscot River Habitat Focus Area (Maine)
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: completing feasibility studies and design for dam removals at True Textile Dam and Frankfort Marsh Stream Dam; implementing culvert replacements in Roaring and Stinking Brook; and engaging in community outreach and “Stream Smart” workshops.
Russian River Habitat Focus Area (California)
Planning for Habitat and Fisheries Enhancement and Reliability ($159,861): The Russian River watershed is home to endangered coho salmon (a NOAA Species in the Spotlight), threatened Chinook salmon, and steelhead. Water extraction from the river and tributaries, flooding, changing storm conditions, drought, and sea level rise can impact habitats for listed salmon species and are of concern to river and estuary residents and recreational users. This project, in partnership with Sonoma County Water Agency, will use weather forecasts to inform reservoir operations, known as FIRO, to advance the understanding of how in-stream and in-reservoir water quality conditions would respond to FIRO. Ultimately, this work aims to advance the long-term ecological goal of improving stream-flow reliability for target listed fish species, and community resiliency to flooding and drought.
West Hawai’i Habitat Focus Area (Hawaii)
Community and Coral Restoration and Resilience in the West Hawai’i Habitat Focus Area ($250,000): 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 fishes and other marine life, and increasing ocean temperatures linked to climatic events.
In partnership with The Nature Conservancy, this project will work to address these threats through the following activities: informing and engaging communities on sustainable use and restoration of natural resources; engaging the Hui Loko Fishpond Network to improve habitat quality and develop and implement plans for sustainable fishpond harvest; 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.