Frequently Asked Questions
Why Protect Coastal Wetlands?
Coastal wetlands are valuable resources. They protect against flooding, help maintain water quality, and provide habitat to wildlife. Coastal environments are important
economically, generating billions of dollars annually through such industries as tourism and commercial fisheries.
Why Are Coastal Wetlands in Trouble?
Thousands of acres of coastal wetlands have already been lost, and additional acres have been degraded by pollution. The concentration of the U.S. population along the coastal
areas is a continuing Since 1990, when Congress passed the Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has been working
with coastal States to acquire, restore, manage or enhance coastal wetlands through a matching grants program. To date, $165 million have been awarded to 25 coastal States
and 1 U.S. Territory, and more than 200,000 acres of coastal wetlands have, or will be acquired, protected or restored. source of development pressure. Threats to coastal
resources include agricultural and urban run-off, shoreline modification, invasive species, oil spills, residential and commercial development, municipal waste disposal,
and over-harvesting of resources.
What Is the National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant Program?
The National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant Program was established by the Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act (Act) of 1990. Under the program, the
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service provides matching grants for acquisition, restoration, management or enhancement of coastal wetlands.
Between $13 million and $17 million in grants are awarded annually through a nationwide competitive process. Funding for the program comes from excise taxes on fishing equipment
and motorboat and small engine fuels.
Who Can Apply for Grants?
States which border the Atlantic, the Gulf of Mexico, Pacific and Great Lakes are eligible. The exception is the State of Louisiana, which has its own coastal wetlands program under
the Act (see box below). Also eligible are the Trust Territories and Commonwealths of the United States.
How Does Cost-Sharing Work?
States provide 50 percent of the total costs of the project. However, if the State has established and maintains a special fund for acquiring coastal wetlands, other natural areas or
open spaces, the Federal share can be increased to 75 percent. Territories and Commonwealths are not required to share the costs of projects except forPuerto Rico. Federal grants
awarded under the National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant Program cannot exceed $1 million for an individual project.
How Are Projects Selected?
The Service’s role has been to review, rank, and select projects based on their national importance and to assist State resource agencies in the planning and application process.
Due to limited funding and considerable demand, projects need to be selected competitively. The Act itself calls for projects to be given priority if they are:
- Consistent with the criteria and considerations outlined in the National Wetlands Priority Conservation Plan.
- Located in States with dedicated funding for programs to acquire coastal wetlands, natural areas and open spaces.
- Located in maritime forests on coastal barrier islands.
Additional ranking factors that have been developed by the Service include giving credit to projects that benefit threatened and endangered species, encourage cooperative efforts, and
benefit other ongoing projects.
What Is Being Accomplished?
The National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant Program is an effective approach that assists States acquire, restore, manage, and enhance their coastal wetland resources. The
program’s emphasis on encouraging partnerships, supporting watershed planning and leveraging on-going projects ensures that the use of limited funds results in maximum
Three examples of funded projects illustrate its accomplishments (see box below). The lasting results of the program will be the protection and restoration of thousands of acres
of coastal wetland ecosystems nationwide. Wildlife and resource-based industries, like tourism and commercial fisheries, will directly benefit.