The National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant Program annually provides grants of up to $1 million to coastal and Great Lakes states, as well as U.S. territories to protect, restore and enhance coastal wetland ecosystems and associated uplands. The grants are funded through the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund, which is supported by excise taxes on fishing equipment and motorboat fuel.
Coastal wetland habitat conservation is critical to ensure that wildlife and coastal communities continue to thrive for future generations. In recognition of the role wetlands play, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service is awarding nearly $18 million to support 22 projects in 10 coastal states to protect, restore or enhance almost 8,000 acres of coastal wetlands and adjacent upland habitats under the National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant Program.
State and local governments, private landowners, conservation groups and other partners will contribute more than $12.2 million in additional funds to these projects. These grants will have wide-reaching benefits for local economies, people and wildlife – boosting coastal resilience, reducing flood risk, stabilizing shorelines and protecting natural ecosystems.
Wetlands in coastal watersheds are diverse and complex ecosystems that are vital to the nation’s economy and an important part of the nation’s natural heritage. Coastal wetlands in the United States include both salt marshes in estuaries and freshwater wetlands that extend inland within the coastal drainages. They provide crucial habitat for fish, birds and other wildlife, including breeding grounds, nurseries, shelter and food.
States receiving funds this year are California, Delaware, Georgia, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, South Carolina, Texas and Washington. Click HERE for the complete list of projects funded by the 2020 grant program.
The program, funded in part through taxes paid on equipment and fuel purchases by recreational anglers and boaters, creates significant benefits for the American public. The billions of dollars generated through recreational angling, boating, waterfowl hunting and birdwatching benefit communities near wetlands restoration projects.
Examples of projects receiving grants are:
Ocean Ranch Restoration – Phase 1
The California State Coastal Conservancy is awarded $1 million to restore 410 acres of wetlands and dunes in the Eel River estuary, the fourth largest in the state. The Ocean Ranch Unit is a part of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Eel River Wildlife Area. These restored and enhanced wetlands and dunes will provide critical habitat for listed species, including salmonids, longfin smelt, tidewater goby and western snowy plover.
Stillaguamish Tidal Wetland Acquisition
The Washington State Department of Ecology, in partnership with the Stillaguamish Tribe, is awarded $1 million to help acquire 248 acres of former estuarine and marine wetlands in Snohomish County, Washington. Restoration of tidal wetlands will benefit a wide range of fish and wildlife species, including Chinook salmon populations, as well as waterfowl and shorebirds in the Pacific Flyway.
Abbaye Peninsula Wetlands Conservation
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources, in partnership with Keweenaw Land Trust, The Nature Conservancy and others, is awarded $925,000 to protect 193 acres of diverse and intact coastal wetland habitats on the Abbaye Peninsula and the adjoining Keweenaw and Huron Bays of Lake Superior in Baraga County, Michigan. The project will benefit migratory birds and waterfowl, nearshore aquatic habitats, native plants, fish and wildlife and create areas for public recreation.
Black Point Acquisition
The Georgia Department of Natural Resources is awarded $1 million to support acquisition of approximately 3,177 acres of diverse coastal habitats known as Black Point in Camden County, Georgia creating a lasting conservation stewardship legacy by protecting important fish and wildlife habitat. The habitat is suitable for species such as the candidate gopher tortoise and federally listed eastern indigo snake, and numerous species of neotropical migrants. The long-term protection of the Santilla River Corridor provides critical linkage between Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge and the Altamaha Corridor.
Delaware Bayshore Wetlands Preserve Project - Phase 2
The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Green Acres Program, partnering with Ducks Unlimited is awarded $1 million to help the state acquire and permanently preserve 1,650 acres of coastal habitat in Fairfield Township, in Cumberland County along the New Jersey-Delaware Bayshore. The New Jersey Delaware Bayshore supports one-third of the entire breeding population of saltmarsh sparrow, and 60 percent and 53 percent of the wintering populations of American black duck and American brant respectively. Over 300 species of neotropical migrant birds, including the federally listed red knot, use the Delaware Bay region during their migration or as breeding habitat.
The National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant Program is administered by the Service and funded by taxes collected from the sale of recreational fishing equipment and motorboat fuel under the authority of Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act of 1950.