Community-Based Habitat Restoration

NOAA’s Community-Based Restoration Program provides technical and financial assistance to develop high-quality habitat restoration projects that support our nation’s fisheries.

removal of Merrimack Dam in New Hampshire

Removal of Merrimack Dam in New Hampshire.

Fish and other marine life depend on healthy habitat to eat, grow, and reproduce. But coastal habitats face many threats—from development, to pollution, to changing weather conditions—that reduce the amount of healthy habitat available. Degraded habitat is one of the largest obstacles to rebuilding sustainable fisheries and recovering protected species.

NOAA’s Community-Based Restoration Program provides technical and financial assistance for restoration projects that ensure fish have access to high-quality habitat. The goal of these projects is to recover and sustain fisheries—particularly those species managed by NOAA Fisheries, or those listed as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

Since its start in 1996, the Community-Based Restoration Program has contributed technical assistance and nearly $203 million to more than 2,180 coastal habitat restoration projects. These projects have restored more than 92,000 acres of habitat and opened more than 4,120 stream miles for fish migration.

Projects range from improving access to habitat by removing dams and other barriers, to restoring coral and oyster reefs, to rebuilding coastal wetlands. We often help implement priority habitat restoration actions identified in recovery plans for threatened and endangered species. Information about many of the projects supported through the Community-based Restoration Program can be found in the NOAA Restoration Atlas.

In addition to benefiting fisheries, habitat restoration yields community and economic benefits such as increased coastal resiliency, commercial and recreational opportunities, decreased safety hazards, and reduced maintenance costs. On average, restoration projects create 15 jobs for every $1 million invested.

Our field staff work with restoration partners across the country to develop high-quality projects. These partners leverage funding that allows us to implement projects efficiently and achieve far greater outcomes than could be achieved with federal funding alone. We’ve partnered with more than 2,900 organizations from all sectors, including non-profits, state agencies, tribal organizations, and local governments. We’ve also worked with more than 250,000 volunteers—promoting stewardship, conservation, and recovery of the nation’s natural resources.