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US Fish & Wildlife Service FieldNotes

PACIFIC SOUTHWEST REGION: California Projects Receive $4 Million in Grants to Conserve Coastal Wetlands

Region 8, February 15, 2013
Lower Marsh, Steam Shovel Slough
Lower Marsh, Steam Shovel Slough - Photo Credit: n/a
Devereux Slough when flooded
Devereux Slough when flooded - Photo Credit: n/a
Ryan Slough
Ryan Slough - Photo Credit: n/a
Sonoma Creek Enhancement Project
Sonoma Creek Enhancement Project - Photo Credit: n/a

Four projects that will help protect, restore and conserve acres of important wetland and adjacent upland habitats along California’s coast are among 24 projects nationwide that will receive funding through the 2013 National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grants Program, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today.

Service Director Dan Ashe announced $20 million in grants to 24 critical coastal wetland projects in 13 states and territories to conserve and restore coastal wetlands and their fish and wildlife habitat. An additional $21.3 million in matching funds will be provided by partner contributions from state and local governments, private landowners and conservation groups through the 2013 National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grants Program.

“When President Obama unveiled his America’s Great Outdoors initiative three years ago, our goal was to work with communities across the country to create a 21st century conservation ethic,” Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said. “Our coastal grants program is a model of this kind of partnership, conserving vital wetlands hand-in-hand in partners from Maine to the Pacific Northwest to as far away as American Samoa in the South Pacific.”

Coastal areas comprise less than 10 percent of the nation’s land area yet support a significant number of wildlife species, including 75 percent of migratory birds, nearly 80 percent of fish and shellfish and about half of all threatened and endangered species.
 

“These coastal wetlands are extremely important to the future of both wildlife and humans,” Ashe said. “As Superstorm Sandy showed, it is essential to have natural wetlands available to act as a buffer against extreme weather events.

“Coastal wetlands also serve as some of nature’s most productive fish and wildlife habitat while providing improved water quality and abundant recreational opportunities for local communities. These grants will help our state partners implement some high-quality projects that support conservation and outdoor recreation.”

The grants support President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative for conservation, recreation and reconnecting people to the outdoors. A 50-State Report lists more than 100 of the country’s most promising projects – a result of meetings with governors and stakeholders held by Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and other senior Interior officials to solicit ideas on how to best implement America’s Great Outdoors initiative in their states – including the four projects in California. These four projects are:
 

Ryan Creek Wetlands Conservation Project – The California State Coastal Conservancy was awarded $1 million to protect 192 acres of valuable coastal wetlands and associated upland habitat adjacent to Humboldt Bay in Humboldt County. Conservation of the parcel is critical for the recovery of several listed species. The Ryan Creek watershed supports important habitat for migratory birds, waterfowl, and shorebirds; and spawning and rearing habitat for threatened Coho salmon and Steelhead trout. Conservation of the parcel is critical for the recovery of several listed species.

Sonoma Creek Enhancement Project –The project was awarded $1 million dollars to enhance and conserve 260 acres of tidal marsh ecosystem in San Pablo Bay by improving the hydrological and ecological function of the Sonoma Creek Marsh. This project will increase and improve wetland ecosystem processes such as tidal exchange and nutrient cycling, provide habitat to a myriad of marsh-dependent wildlife species, including providing critical habitat to threatened and endangered species such as the California clapper rail and the Salt marsh harvest mouse.

Steam Shovel Slough Coastal Wetlands Acquisition Project – The project was awarded $1 million to protect in perpetuity a 62.8-acre parcel that is part of the 500-acre Los Cerritos Wetlands Complex near the mouth of San Gabriel River in the city of Long Beach. As many as 120 bird species use the area, and portions of the wetlands provide important spawning areas and food sources for intertidal and marine aquatic species, including habitat for depleted southern California commercial fisheries. A variety of rare plant species and numerous salt marsh species inhabit its tidally-influenced drainages and wetlands areas.

Upper Devereux Slough Restoration Project Phase 3- The project was awarded $1 million to restore 25 acres of estuarine, palustrine and transitional habitat in the southern area of the project site upstream from lower Devereux Slough. This project is Phase 3 of a multi-phase project that will acquire the 63-acre Ocean Meadows property currently used as a golf course and the restoration of lands comprising the Upper Devereau Slough system in Santa Barbara County. The estuary restoration will benefit 27 wildlife and plant species of federal and state concern, including five endangered or threatened species by providing significant opportunities for long-term protection and recovery. The upland restoration will enhance significant habitats such as native perennial grassland, vernal pools and Oakland woodland.

The National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant Program is administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and funded under provisions of the 1990 Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection and Restoration Act. Funding is provided by Sport Fish Restoration Act revenue – money generated from an excise tax on fishing equipment, motorboat and small engine fuels.

Including the 2013 grants, the Service has awarded about $320 million to coastal states and territories since the program began in 1992. When the 2013 projects are complete, about 298,000 acres of habitat will have been protected, restored or enhanced as a direct result of these grants. A complete list of projects funded by the 2013 grants is available at: http://www.fws.gov/home/feature/2013/pdf/2013awardslist_v2.pdf .

Contact Info: Pam Bierce, 916-414-6542, pamela_bierce@fws.gov