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Nearly $13 Million in NOAA Funding Recommended for Coastal and Marine Habitat Restoration Projects

July 23, 2020

Funding for 31 new and continuing habitat restoration projects will support sustainable fisheries, protected species, and resilient ecosystems and communities across the nation.


To support our nation’s coastal and marine species, the NOAA Restoration Center is recommending nearly $13 million in funding for 31 new and continuing habitat restoration projects through our Community-based Restoration Program. These projects will restore habitat and ecosystems in 15 states and territories across the nation and build lasting benefits for communities and the environment.

The projects will support oysters, corals, and several fish species by reopening rivers to fish passage, reconnecting rivers to their floodplains, and reducing coastal runoff. They will also aid in the recovery of five NOAA Species in the Spotlightwhite abalone, Central California Coast coho salmon, Atlantic salmonSacramento River winter-run Chinook salmon, and the Southern Resident killer whale.

In addition to supporting coastal and marine species, habitat restoration benefits the coastal communities that rely on those habitats for clean drinking water, flood and storm protection, and industries like boating, fishing, and tourism

The NOAA Restoration Center, housed within the Office of Habitat Conservation, supports habitat restoration projects across the country where our nation’s fisheries and protected resources need it most. We provide technical and financial assistance to partners across the country to develop high-quality habitat restoration projects. Since 1996, our Community-based Restoration Program has partnered with more than 2,900 organizations to take on more than 2,180 projects. These efforts have restored more than 92,000 acres of habitat and opened up 4,126 miles of streams and rivers to fish migration.

In Fiscal Year 2020, we are recommending $4.7 million in funding for 16 new restoration projects, and $8.2 million in additional funding for 15 ongoing restoration projects. Recipients and their partners come from all sectors, including nonprofits; federal, state, and local agencies; tribes; private sector businesses; and academia.

Aerial photo of a shoreline and estuary

Among the projects recommended for funding is restoration work at the mouth of Lund's Gulch Creek in Washington. (Photo: Snohomish County)

Pacific Northwest and Alaska

New Projects

  • 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. ($509,210)
  • 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. ($151,240)
  • Snohomish County will reopen a channel at the mouth of Lund’s Gulch Creek by replacing nearly 128 feet of armored embankment and an undersized culvert with a multi-span railroad bridge. The project will provide rearing habitat for juvenile Chinook, coho, and chum salmon. ($300,000)
  • 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. ($362,016)

Continued Efforts

  • 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. ($105,799)
  • Rogue Basin Partnership will remove several barriers to fish migration across the Rogue River basin in Oregon, increasing the amount of habitat available for Southern Oregon/Northern California coho salmon, listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. ($242,000)
  • 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. ($450,555)
  • 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. ($824,234)
  • Trout Unlimited will restore access to more than 15 miles of habitat for migratory fish by removing six barriers in Oregon’s Tillamook and Nestucca watersheds. Restoring natural stream processes and fish migration will benefit Oregon Coast coho salmon, Chinook and chum salmon, steelhead and cutthroat trout, and several lamprey species. ($336,047)
White abalone

Recommended funding will support efforts to increase populations of white abalone in Southern California.

Pacific Southwest – California and Hawaii

New Projects

  • Trout Unlimited will restore priority habitat on former timberlands in Northern California to support Central California Coast coho salmon, a NOAA Species in the Spotlight, as well as Southern Oregon Northern California Coast coho salmon, California Coastal chinook salmon, and Northern California steelhead. Partners expect to complete the design or implementation of 24 projects across the region over a three-year period, with eight starting in the first year. ($441,763)
  • Caltrout will remove decommissioned infrastructure from a defunct wastewater management facility as part of an effort to restore habitat for Southern Oregon Northern California Coast coho salmon, California Coastal chinook salmon, and Northern California steelhead in the Mad River. The project will also restore estuarine and off-channel habitat, two types of habitat that are severely limited in the river. ($490,167)
  • The Santa Monica Bay Restoration Foundation will work to restore rocky reef habitats in Southern California by increasing populations of white abalone, a NOAA Species in the Spotlight. Partners will raise captive juvenile white abalone and then plant them in appropriate habitats off the coast of Los Angeles County. ($112,058)
  • River Partners will remove two human-made obstructions that are currently cutting off a side channel to the Sacramento River and preventing juvenile Sacramento River winter-run Chinook salmon (a NOAA Species in the Spotlight), Central Valley spring-run Chinook salmon, and California Central Valley steelhead from accessing their habitat. ($56,868)

Continued Efforts

  • The Nature Conservancy will work to restore habitat for coho and other salmon species in the lower Garcia River and estuary in northern California. Coho salmon in the Garcia River are one of twelve populations within the Central California Coast coho salmon evolutionarily significant unit (ESU), a NOAA Species in the Spotlight. ($238,896)
A river with a dam

Removal of the Potter Hill Dam is one of several projects recommended for funding in the Northeast. (Photo: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)


New Projects

  • The Town of Westerly will work to remove the Potter Hill Dam, the last significant barrier to fish passage remaining on the Pawcatuck River. The project will restore access to over 83 miles of stream and over 3,000 acres of ponds used by alewife to spawn. NOAA and partners previously removed five other barriers on the Pawcatuck. ($110,682)
  • 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. ($150,000)
  • The North and South Rivers Watershed Association will remove the Peterson Pond Dam on Third Herring Brook. Removal of the dam will open an additional 1.3 miles of river habitat for migratory fish, including American shad and river herring. The project builds on prior downstream dam removals completed with NOAA support. ($75,000)

Continued Efforts

  • The Atlantic Salmon Federation will remove barriers to fish migration in Temple Stream, a major tributary of the Sandy River in Maine. Restoring access to high-quality stream habitat will benefit the endangered Atlantic Salmon, a NOAA Species in the Spotlight, as well as American eel, blueback herring, and other species. ($606,468)
  • 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. ($360,043)
  • 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. ($589,752)
An elkhorn coral with parrotfish beneath it

Several projects recommended for funding will benefit threatened coral species, such as elkhorn coral. (Photo: Jessica Levy)

Southeast and Caribbean

New Projects

  • 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. 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. ($345,998)
  • Protectores de Cuencas will stabilize three to four 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. ($235,491)
  • 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. ($353,456)
  • 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. ($300,000) Also funded by the NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program.

Continued Efforts

  • Protectores de Cuencas will build on ongoing efforts in Culebra, Puerto Rico—a NOAA Habitat Focus Area—to address sediment from unstabilized dirt roads, which can lead to polluted runoff draining into the ocean and impacting coral reefs. Six to seven miles of dirt roads will be stabilized to address runoff from bare soil areas. ($234,340)
  • The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources will create 13 living shorelines to address habitat loss and erosion in Charleston County. The projects create three acres of oyster reefs and salt marsh along 3,800 linear feet of shoreline, restoring habitat for species such as red drum, summer flounder, and white shrimp. ($358,539)
  • The Nature Conservancy will restore the floodplain and remove barriers to fish migration on the Roanoke River in North Carolina. In addition to restoring habitat for shortnose sturgeon, Atlantic sturgeon, and river herring, the project will reduce flooding and enhance water quality in local communities. ($259,986)
  • 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. ($1,395,000) Also funded by the NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program.
  • Mote Marine Lab 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. ($1,405,000) Also funded by the NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program.