News Release

December 22, 2010

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar Announces More Than $19 Million In Grants to Protect Coastal Wetlands across the Nation

Media Contacts:
Joan Jewett, 503-231-6211
joan_jewett@fws.gov
Roya Mogadam, 703-358-2128
roya_mogadam@fws.gov

Seven Pacific Region grants will benefit projects on 2,478 acres

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced today the award of more than $19 million to support 24 conservation projects benefiting fish and wildlife on more than 5,900 acres of coastal habitats in twelve states in the U.S through the 2011 National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant Program. These federal grants will be matched by nearly $21 million in partner contributions from state and local governments, private landowners and conservation groups.

The grants will be used to acquire, restore or enhance coastal wetlands and adjacent uplands to provide long-term conservation benefits to fish, wildlife and their habitat. States receiving funds include: Oregon, Washington, Wisconsin, Alabama, Florida, North Carolina, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Alaska, and California.

“Our Nation’s coastal wetlands encompass large areas of vital habitat for countless species of wildlife while providing important economic resources and recreational opportunities for the American people.” Secretary Ken Salazar said. “These grants will offer additional protection, restoration, and enhancement of these precious habitats.” 

In the Pacific Region, grants totaling nearly $5.6 million will be matched by $5.4. million in partner contributions to support the acquisition and restoration of 2,478 acres at seven locations ranging from Willapa Bay, Drayton Harbor and Tarboo-Dabob Bay in Washington to Tillamook Bay and the Coquille River Valley in Oregon.

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 2011 grants, the Service has awarded nearly $260 million to coastal states and territories since the program began in 1992. When the 2011 projects are complete more than 265,000 acres of habitat will have been protected, restored or enhanced.

Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, the Service’s Coastal Program provides strategic conservation planning and assistance in coastal areas. It represents one of the Service’s most popular and effective programs for voluntary, locally-based habitat restoration and protection efforts. With climate change threatening to reduce coastal habitats, the public and private partnerships garnered by the Coastal Program are essential.

 

Coastal areas comprise less than 10 percent of the nation’s land area yet support the majority 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. The Coastal Program is a vital tool in helping to recover listed species and maintaining populations of candidate species that depend on coastal habitats.

Projects in the Service’s Pacific Region include:

Oregon:

Coquille Valley Wetland Conservation and Restoration – The Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board was awarded $1 million to help acquire and restore approximately 622 acres of coastal wetlands in the Coquille Valley on the southern Oregon coast for permanent conservation, protection and restoration by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW).  This project is the first phase of a larger initiative by ODFW to conserve and restore approximately 3,000 acres in the lowlands along the lower Coquille River encompassing some of the most productive wetland habitats on the Oregon Coast.  The total cost of the first phase is $2,506,000.  Protection and restoration of freshwater wetlands would complement downstream estuarine restoration efforts on Bandon National Wildlife Refuge.  This project would protect nesting, feeding, and nursery areas for a diversity of at-risk fish and wildlife species, including Oregon Coast coho salmon, coastal cutthroat trout, bald eagle, purple martin, willow flycatcher, western meadowlark, and Townsend's big-eared bat.  The Nature Conservancy is providing technical and financial support for this effort through the Northwest Wildlife Conservation Initiative.

Miami Wetlands Conservation and Restoration Project – The Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board was awarded $317,700 to help acquire and restore approximately 76.2 acres in the Miami River Basin in Tillamook Bay, on the northern coast of Oregon, including 56.7 acres of nationally declining wetlands.  This proposal is the second phase of a two-phase project to improve aquatic habitat by enhancing the tidal channel connection, restoring the historic character of the site vegetation by reducing invasive species and planting native vegetation, enhancing riparian corridors to reduce the water temperature, and permanently protecting the project area.  The total cost of the second phase is $567,700.  The Miami River watershed is one of five watersheds that drain into Tillamook Bay on the north coast of Oregon.  The Miami River watershed has lost much of its original estuarine, emergent, scrub-shrub, and forested wetland areas to diking, draining, and the conversion of land to agriculture.  The Miami River wetlands support a wide variety of plants and wildlife, including all five species of Tillamook Bay salmonids: coho), Chinook, chum, steelhead, and cutthroat trout.

Tillamook Bay Wetlands Acquisition and Restoration – Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board was awarded $1 million to help acquire four parcels totaling 100 acres of declining wetlands in Tillamook Bay on the northern Oregon Coast.  This project also includes the restoration of 484 acres of intertidal marsh that includes 377 acres of land acquired through a 1999 National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant.  The total project cost is $3,350,000.  Numerous studies have identified the Tillamook Bay Estuary as a high priority for wetland conservation and restoration.  This project is the largest wetland restoration effort proposed to date in Oregon.  This project will provide nesting, feeding, and nursery areas for a diverse array of at-risk fish and wildlife species such as the northern red-legged frog, bald eagle, peregrine falcon, Pacific lamprey and Chinook, chum and coho salmon.  Tillamook Bay represents the southernmost boundary and the largest remaining population of chum salmon.  Restoration of these tidal habitats is crucial to protecting this population.

Washington:

Central Willapa Bay Conservation Project – The Washington State Department of Ecology, in partnership with the Columbia Land Trust, was awarded $1 million to help acquire and permanently protect four parcels totaling 575 acres of highly threatened, pristine, declining coastal wetlands, riparian areas and associated mature and old growth conifer forest on Willapa Bay in southwest Washington.  The total project cost is $1,405,000.  Willapa Bay is the second largest estuary on North America’s west coast and is one of the most pristine estuaries in the United States.  The unique habitats of Willapa Bay include a variety of estuarine wetlands, freshwater wetlands, lakes, old growth and mature conifer forest, sand dunes, beaches, and grasslands that support a diversity of wildlife and plants.  The project area is home to threatened salmon, green sturgeon, marbled murrelet, brown pelican and bald eagle.  The four parcels are located near the 15,000-acre Willapa Bay National Wildlife Refuge. 

Drayton Harbor Estuary:  Coastal Wetland Protection and Restoration – The Washington State Department of Ecology, in partnership with the Whatcom Land Trust and the Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association, was awarded $340,000 to help acquire, restore and protect in perpetuity eight acres of estuarine habitat at the confluence of California Creek and Drayton Harbor in northwestern Washington.  The total project cost is $496,000.  The project area includes 1,700 feet of freshwater and saltwater frontage and contains both estuarine and palustrine wetlands, of which six acres are nationally declining wetlands.  The project will also restore the wetland hydrology; remove noxious weeds and establish native plants; and remove a dilapidated house, outbuildings, driveway and culverts.  The property is adjacent to state-owned tidally inundated mud flats and is within the 100-year floodplain of California Creek.  Upon completion of the project, public access for passive recreation will be accommodated, including a parking lot and educational signage.

North River/Willapa Bay Conservation – The Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) was awarded $1 million to help acquire and restore 505 acres of estuarine and freshwater marsh, and forested riparian and shoreline in northern Willapa Bay in southwest Washington.  The total project cost is $1,460,000.  Willapa Bay is regarded as one of the most pristine estuaries in the United States and is the second largest estuary on the west coast.  This project will protect an assemblage of high quality wetlands, including estuarine, emergent salt marsh, marsh scrub/shrub and freshwater forested wetlands.  The project area is adjacent to 1,300 acres of coastal habitat already protected by WDFW and the Cascade Land Conservancy, thus consolidating nearly 2,000 acres of protected lands in north Willapa Bay, including property that otherwise would be at risk of residential and commercial development.  The project has wide support from a variety of partners, including the Cascade Land Conservancy, the State Department of Agriculture, Wildlife Forever Fund, and the USFWS Coastal Program.

Tarboo-Dabob Bay Acquisition and Restoration, Phase II – Washington State Department of Ecology was awarded $1 million to help acquire and protect in perpetuity eight properties making up approximately 108 acres within the state-designated Dabob Bay Natural Area.  The total project cost is $1,500,000.  This acquisition would complete a continuous nature preserve surrounding Tarboo-Dabob Bay, one of the least developed coastal embayments remaining in Puget Sound.  Four previous National Coastal Wetland Conservation Grants have helped protect a total of 875 acres fronting on the Bay.  This project will help protect highly productive salmonid habitats and benefit a diversity of at-risk freshwater and estuarine species, including five salmon stocks, forage fish species, numerous shorebird, waterfowl, and land bird species.  This project is essential for the continued success of the larger effort by 34 project partners, including federal, state, tribal, shellfish grower and landowner interests to protect wetlands of state and national significance.

A complete list of projects funded by the 2011 grant program can be found online at: http://www.fws.gov/coastal/CoastalGrants/index.html