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$9 Million in Funding for Coastal Habitat Restoration Projects to Benefit Fish
NOAA awarded $9 million in funding for 17 coastal habitat restoration projects through the 2016 Community-based Restoration Program Coastal and Marine Habitat Restoration Grants competition. These projects will restore at least 1,400 acres of habitat, and up to 80 stream miles for fish passage.
Using a habitat-based approach, the selected projects aim to rebuild fish stocks, help recover threatened and endangered species, or benefit other coastal and marine species (such as forage fish).
Restoration efforts include:
- Restoring Coho Salmon along the Lost Coast ($304,752): This project, in partnership with Trout Unlimited, will reduce sediment in priority streams in Northern California. Funding will support timberland road decommissioning, fish passage barrier removal, and installation of instream large wood structures to improve habitat complexity. Many of these projects are located in priority areas identified in the NOAA Fisheries Recovery Plan for Central California Coast Coho Salmon.
- Willow Bend Floodplain Habitat Restoration ($587,399): This project, in partnership with River Partners, will restore floodplain habitat and mimic natural flood patterns. These actions will provide critical rearing habitat for juvenile salmon and steelhead. The project will benefit multiple Central Valley migratory fish species listed under the Endangered Species Act, including Central Valley steelhead, spring-run Chinook, and critically-endangered Sacramento River winter-run Chinook salmon.
- Pennington Creek Steelhead Barrier Removal ($239,327): This project, in partnership with Trout Unlimited, will restore fish passage to two miles of stream with year-round flow. The project will benefit the South-Central California Coast Distinct Population Segment of steelhead trout, which is listed under the Endangered Species Act.
- Restoration of ESA Threatened Coral Species in Florida ($492,850): This project, in partnership with the Coral Restoration Foundation, will plant more than 50,000 corals on eight reefs across the Florida Reef Tract. The reefs will be planted with two species of coral listed under the Endangered Species Act. The project will also develop the capacity to grow and transplant three additional threatened species, potentially benefitting a total of five threatened coral species in south Florida and the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.
- Hawaii Fishpond Estuary Restoration ($200,000): This project, in partnership with The Nature Conservancy, will restore up to seven acres of habitat. It will also promote the exchange of knowledge between practitioners engaged in fishpond management. The ecological function of West Hawai‘i’s nearshore ecosystems will be improved by restoring traditional fishpond, coastal estuarine, coral reef, and aquatic habitats.
- Sheepscot River Barrier Removal ($393,051): This project, in partnership with the Atlantic Salmon Federation, will remove the 15-foot high Coopers Mills Dam. It will also replace undersized culverts in the watershed. The project will significantly improve fish passage for Endangered Species Act-listed Atlantic salmon, and enhance habitat for other migratory fish such as river herring, within the Sheepscot River.
- Bloede Dam Removal ($733,391): This project, in partnership with American Rivers, will restore migratory fish species habitat in the Patapsco River by removing the Bloede Dam. This 34-foot-high dam is a documented safety hazard in the Patapsco Valley State Park. The project will benefit river herring and other migratory species. This effort also received settlement funds from the Spectron natural resource damage assessment case.
- Barstow’s Pond Dam Removal ($101,000): This project, in partnership with Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game, will remove the Barstow’s Pond Dam. The project will benefit river herring by providing access to eight miles of riverine habitat. The dam is classified as a significant hazard by the Massachusetts Office of Dam Safety.
- Tack Factory Dam Removal ($98,000): This project, in partnership with the North and South Rivers Watershed Association, will remove the Tack Factory Dam. The project will benefit river herring by reconnecting eight miles of spawning and juvenile rearing habitat and restoring natural sediment and nutrient transport.
- Coonamessett River Restoration ($430,000): This project, in partnership with the Town of Falmouth, will remove two dams associated with former commercial cranberry operations. It will also replace an undersized culvert with a larger arch structure. The former cranberry bog sites will be restored to native riparian and floodplain habitat. The barrier removals will restore fish passage to more than two stream miles and the 158-acre Coonamesett Pond, providing spawning habitat for river herring.
- Herring River Restoration Project ($700,034): This project, in partnership with Friends of Herring River, will provide funds and technical assistance to design and permit the Herring River Restoration Project. When constructed, the project will slowly return tidal flow to the Herring River to allow for gradual rebuilding of the salt marsh. The marsh has subsided since the Chequessett Neck Road dike was built in 1909.
- Pamlico Sound Oyster Restoration ($1,275,000): This project, in partnership with the North Carolina Coastal Federation, will construct 45 acres of oyster reef sanctuary. This will advance the state’s goal to create a network of sanctuaries within Pamlico Sound over the next ten years. The project locations are designated as Essential Fish Habitat for at least 26 species of fish. It will provide highly-productive habitat that will benefit commercially and recreationally important species.
- Winter Lake Restoration ($1,210,000): This project, in partnership with The Nature Conservancy, will restore 407 acres of tidal wetlands. It will also increase fish passage on 1,300 acres at a site in the Coquille River Estuary of western Oregon. The project will benefit Endangered Species Act- listed coho salmon.
- Willamette Confluence Floodplain Restoration ($850,129): This project, in partnership with The Nature Conservancy, will restore 330 acres of floodplain habitat at the confluence of two forks of the Willamette River. This project will benefit spring Chinook salmon, listed under the Endangered Species Act.
- Culebra Island Restoration of Coral Reef Critical Habitat ($212,036): In partnership with Protectores de Cuencas, this funding will support seven high-priority projects. All these projects are listed under the Culebra Watershed Management Plan and the Implementation Framework for NOAA’s Habitat Blueprint Focus Area in the Caribbean. These efforts will reduce land-based sources of pollution, which will benefit coastal and coral reef habitats.
- Illabot Creek Alluvial Fan Restoration ($491,705): This project, in partnership with the Skagit River System Cooperative, will restore Illabot Creek into its historic channel and allow it to migrate freely through the floodplain. This will be accomplished by removing dikes, excavating pilot channels, installing two new bridges, and building log structures to improve habitat conditions. The project will benefit Chinook and coho salmon and steelhead trout.
- Accelerating Recovery across Puget Sound ($896,655): This project, in partnership with The Nature Conservancy, will accelerate the restoration of floodplain and estuary habitat in Puget Sound. Partners will implement two on-the-ground projects and one feasibility and design project. These projects will restore at least 250 acres of delta, tidal, floodplain, and riparian habitat in two of the most important watersheds within Puget Sound for the recovery of Endangered Species Act-listed salmon.
Our investment in habitat is part of a long-term effort to rebuild fisheries, many of which have declined precipitously from habitat loss, over-fishing, and climate change. Recent successes show that restoring habitat is a way to not only stop the decline of fish populations, but also to regrow them to historically healthy numbers.