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Meet Terill Hollweg, Marine Habitat Resource Specialist

July 29, 2020

After a 2010 NOAA Knauss Fellowship, Terill Hollweg has returned to the NOAA Restoration Center and now helps restore habitat in the Pacific Northwest.

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Terill Hollweg is a Marine Habitat Resource Specialist in Seattle, Washington. She works with the NOAA Restoration Center to restore habitat in the Pacific Northwest region. 

Describe a project related to habitat that you’re currently working on or that you enjoyed.

I’m currently working on the restoration of the Lower Duwamish River, an urban waterway in Seattle. This river was channelized and narrowed during the early 1900s to support industrial activity. And, still today, much of the river is developed with industrial and commercial facilities. 

Most of our work is focused on restoring marsh, mudflats, and shoreline habitats for fish and wildlife along the river’s corridor and adjacent bay. Two species of particular focus include the threatened Puget Sound Chinook salmon and Puget Sound Steelhead trout. Restoring and creating new estuarine and channel habitats for them is especially important. These migratory fish species use these habitats as safe places to feed and grow as juveniles as they transition from freshwater to saltwater during their life cycle.

What habitat work has been especially successful or inspiring to you?

I spent the last 10 years of my career focused on restoring coastal and marine habitats and resources impacted by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. I started working at the NOAA Restoration Center within the Office of Habitat Conservation as a Sea Grant Knauss Fellow in February 2010, 2 months before the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Almost immediately after the spill, I began supporting NOAA’s restoration planning effort for this case. 

After my fellowship ended, I continued to support NOAA (first as a contractor and then as a consultant) on restoration of the Gulf, focusing on restoring coastal marshes, oyster reefs, marine mammals, sea turtles, and other resources impacted by the spill. It has been a privilege to work with such a great group of state and federal agencies and other partners on this important effort.

Now I’m back with the NOAA Restoration Center as a federal employee and I’m thrilled to continue my career here in the Pacific Northwest.

Describe a time when you were surprised by fish and/or habitat. 

Most recently, I was surprised when I moved to the Pacific Northwest. I was born and raised in New Hampshire and spent most of my early adulthood living along the East Coast and Gulf Coast. When I moved to Seattle two years ago, I was completely amazed and in awe by the coastline and mountains of the Pacific Northwest. 

Everything is much more dramatic out here— from the tall mountain peaks, to the expansive floodplains, to the enormous trees that provide habitat for salmon after they fall. It’s a wonderful ecosystem to work in and continue to learn more about.

What person has expanded your understanding or connection to habitat?

There are many people that have expanded my understanding of habitat over the last several years. However, one person that inspired me at a young age would be Sharon Meeker, who was the director of the University of New Hampshire’s Marine Docent Program from 1981–2004. She led the Great Bay Coast Watch, which was a volunteer-based program partially funded by the New Hampshire Sea Grant to monitor water quality of the Great Bay estuary in New Hampshire. 

I volunteered for this program when I was in high school, which was when I first started to understand the importance of an estuary and the impact that humans have on these coastal systems. This volunteer work led me to study marine science in college and then follow a path to work at NOAA as a Sea Grant Knauss Fellow years later.