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$8.3 Million in Funding Recommended for Coastal and Marine Habitat Restoration Projects

July 15, 2021

Funding for 23 ongoing habitat restoration projects will support productive and sustainable fisheries, healthy ecosystems, and resilient communities across the nation.

Two excavators on a barge floating in the water Excavators deposit limestone marl into Pamlico Sound in North Carolina to form the base of oyster habitat. Credit: North Carolina Coastal Federation.

NOAA is recommending nearly $8.3 million in funding to continue 23 ongoing habitat restoration projects through our Community-based Restoration Program. These projects will restore habitat for coastal and marine species in 13 states and territories and provide benefits for communities and the environment. The projects will also support coastal communities that rely on healthy habitats for benefits like clean drinking water, flood and storm protection, and industries like boating, fishing, and tourism. 

By reopening rivers to fish passage, reconnecting rivers to their floodplains, and reducing coastal runoff, these projects will support oysters, corals, and several fish species. They will also aid in the recovery of four NOAA Species in the Spotlight

Recipients and their partners include nonprofits; federal, state, and local agencies; tribes; private sector businesses; and academia. 

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Underwater photo of dozens of juvenile salmon
Projects recommended for funding will support important species like coho salmon. Credit: Alaska Sea Grant.

Pacific Northwest and Alaska

  • The Copper River Watershed Project will restore access to 45 miles of habitat for Chinook and coho salmon by replacing two narrow pipes with a new bridge. This fish passage restoration work will support the salmon fisheries that drive the economies of rural communities in Alaska’s Copper River region. ($400,000)
  • The Skagit River System Cooperative will restore habitat for Chinook salmon and steelhead trout in the Barnaby Reach portion of the Skagit River by reconnecting a seasonal floodplain and by replacing culverts to improve fish passage. This work will also reduce the risk of flooding in the community of South Rockport. ($189,536)
  • American Rivers will remove a diversion dam and restore the river channel in Washington’s Middle Fork Nooksack River, aiding in the recovery of Chinook salmon, steelhead trout, and coho salmon, as well as the Southern Resident killer whale, a NOAA Species in the Spotlight. ($103,816)
  • The Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife Estuary and Salmon Restoration Program will work to restore up to 2,350 acres of estuary habitat and 37 miles of river habitat in the Whidbey Basin of Puget Sound, aiding in the recovery of steelhead and Chinook salmon while balancing agricultural use of the land. ($152,527)
  • The Wild Salmon Center will implement restoration projects in three watersheds on the Oregon coast to promote the recovery of Southern Oregon/Northern California Coast coho salmon and Oregon Coast coho salmon, both listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. ($847,527)
  • The Freshwater Trust will restore habitat for threatened coho salmon, spring and fall Chinook, and winter steelhead in four priority areas of the Upper Sandy River Basin. Partners will restore flow to side channels, reconnect floodplains, and increase habitat complexity with large woody debris. ($677,013)

Pacific Southwest – California and Hawaii

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A river flows over a dam
Removal of the Potter Hill Dam on the Pawcatuck River is one of several projects recommended for continued funding. Credit: City of Westerly.

Northeast

  • The Town of Westerly will work to remove the Potter Hill Dam, the last significant barrier to fish passage remaining on the Pawcatuck River in Rhode Island. The project will restore access to over 83 miles of stream and more than 3,000 acres of ponds used by alewife to spawn. NOAA and partners previously removed five other barriers on the Pawcatuck. ($150,000)
  • The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection will design plans for, permit, and remove the Lower Collinsville Dam on the Farmington River. Dam removal will provide an additional mile of fish passage, eliminate risks associated with an obsolete dam, and increase community resilience during flooding. ($125,000)
  • The North and South Rivers Watershed Association will remove the Peterson Pond Dam and design fish passage at Jacobs Pond Dam on Third Herring Brook in Massachusetts. The project will open an additional 1.3 miles of river habitat for migratory fish, including American shad and river herring. This work builds on prior downstream dam removals completed with NOAA support. ($20,415)
  • Friends of Herring River will work to return tidal flow to the Herring River estuary, the largest estuary on outer Cape Cod in Massachusetts. Restoration of the 1,000-acre wetland will occur over a period of time that allows for gradual rebuilding of the salt marsh. ($591,391)
  • The Maryland Department of Natural Resources will place spat-on-shell, or oyster larvae, on up to 100 acres of oyster reefs in five Maryland tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay. Higher oyster density is expected to lead to more habitat for fish like shortnose and Atlantic sturgeon, both listed under the Endangered Species Act. ($800,000)
  • The Virginia Marine Resources Commission will construct and monitor new oyster reefs in the Piankatank River, working toward completion of the river’s oyster restoration goal. Reefs in this area support fish species like Atlantic butterfish, bluefish, summer flounder, and black sea bass. ($540,000)

Southeast and Caribbean

  • The North Carolina Coastal Federation, in partnership with the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries, will add up to 15 acres of new oyster reef habitat to the Swan Quarter Oyster Sanctuary in Pamlico Sound, North Carolina. Restoration will benefit species such as gag grouper and white, brown, and pink shrimp. ($750,000)
  • Sociedad Ambiente Marino will restore endangered corals and seagrass beds damaged by Hurricanes Irma and Maria in Puerto Rico. Over the course of the project, 21,000 threatened elkhorn corals and staghorn corals and 4,128 seagrass plugs will be planted near existing coral sites to speed up the natural recovery process. ($128,888)
  • Protectores de Cuencas will stabilize 3 to 4 miles of unpaved roads in Culebra, Puerto Rico, to address runoff and reduce impacts to coral reefs. The project builds on prior efforts to address land-based sources of pollution and support conservation of the Northeast Reserves Marine Ecological Corridor Habitat Focus Area. ($264,923)
  • Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi will restore oyster reef habitat in St. Charles Bay, Texas. The project will create 3.9 acres of new oyster reef that will support saltwater recreational fisheries, reduce shoreline erosion, and benefit black drum, stone crab, skilletfish, and other economically important species. ($83,367)
  • The Florida Aquarium will propagate, grow, and plant 4,250 threatened elkhorn corals to help restore 1,785 square meters of coral habitat at Looe Key and Horseshoe Reefs, two of the seven reefs outlined in the innovative Mission: Iconic Reefs. Diadema urchins will also be spawned and raised at a land-based facility. ($289,000) Also funded by the NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program.
  • Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium will restore degraded coral reef habitat and promote the recovery of threatened and endangered coral species in the Florida Keys. The project will grow 10,000 corals across five different species each year, and outplant 30,000 corals by securing them to the reef using best management practices for coral restoration. ($505,000) Also funded by the NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program. 
  • The Coral Restoration Foundation will outplant more than 84,000 nursery-grown corals to restore degraded coral reef habitat and promote the recovery of threatened and endangered coral species. The corals will come from existing nurseries and will be secured to the reef using best management practices for coral restoration. ($300,000) Also funded by the NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program. 

The NOAA Restoration Center within the Office of Habitat Conservation provides funding and technical support to partners across the country to develop high-quality habitat restoration projects. Since 1996, our Community-based Restoration Program has partnered with more than 2,600 organizations to take on more than 2,200 projects. These efforts have restored more than 93,000 acres of habitat and opened up more than 4,300 miles of streams and rivers to fish migration.