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NOAA Partnerships Recognized for Conservation Success

Two NOAA coastal habitat projects have been selected by the National Fish Habitat Partnership as “Waters to Watch” for 2013. The list identifies rivers and streams that are the targets of strategic conservation efforts to protect, restore, and enhance fish habitat conditions.

Grape Creek, California

This project was led by the California Fish Passage Forum and a partnership of landowners, resource agencies, non-profit conservation groups, private foundations, and wine industry representatives. It has improved stream flows for endangered coho salmon and steelhead trout, while ensuring that vineyards have the resources they need to protect wine grapes from frost. This was done by installing a fan that allowed farmers to prevent frost from damaging vines without having to pull water from nearby streams.

Grape Creek and the Russian River watershed are part of the first Habitat Focus Area under NOAA’s Habitat Blueprint.

The project has met with so much success that other California coastal watersheds are applying similar approaches.

Cape Fear, North Carolina

NOAA formed the Cape Fear River Partnership to address the challenges to migratory fish on a watershed scale in the Cape Fear River. We are partnering with the Atlantic Coastal Fish Habitat Partnership and Southeast Aquatic Resources Partnership to address these challenges. Currently, less than 35 percent of the fish population is able to reach historical spawning grounds.

Three lock and dam structures on the river have contributed to declines in fish populations and reduced access to spawning habitat. These proposed projects will provide spawning habitat for American shad as well as potential spawning habitat for striped bass, sturgeon, and river herring.

“These waters represent a snapshot of this year’s voluntary coastal habitat conservation efforts in progress,” said Kelly Hepler, Chairman of the National Fish Habitat Board. “These projects will be the showcase of coastal conservation efforts working to avoid and reverse persistent declines in our nation’s aquatic habitats.”

The National Fish Habitat Partnership has featured 70 Waters to Watch partnership projects since 2007.

Posted May 20, 2013

Habitat restoration on Grape Creek, a tributary of the Russian River.
Installation of rock arch rapids fishway on the Cape Fear River.