Coastal Program
flock of bird
Photo credit: Rosie Walunas, USFWS

What is the Coastal Program?

Our mission is to achieve voluntary habitat conservation by providing technical and financial assistance, in collaboration with partners, for the benefit of Federal trust species.

The Coastal Program is a voluntary, partnership-based, habitat conservation program located in 24 priority coastal areas along the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, Gulf of Mexico, Great Lakes, and in the Caribbean. Within these areas, our conservation efforts are guided by a national strategic plan that integrates Service priorities with the shared conservation goals of conservation partners and stakeholders.

We deliver habitat conservation through locally-based staff who provide technical and financial assistance for habitat conservation planning and design, and implement habitat restoration and protection projects. Our success is in large part due to our staff who have an intimate knowledge of the natural resource issues and conservation challenges in local communities, which facilitates the development of long-term partnerships.

Our partnerships provide a framework to conduct landscape-scale conservation planning and to implement these plans through on-the-ground coastal habitat conservation. Through these partnerships, the Service can leverage its technical and financial resources with partner resources to maximize habitat conservation and benefits to federal trust and other priority species, including threatened and endangered species, migratory birds, and interjurisdictional fish. For habitat improvement projects, our average financial leveraging ratio is $8 partner to $1 Coastal Program.

We deliver habitat conservation in coastal watersheds (i.e., headwaters to nearshore) on both public and private lands. Our ability to work on public and private lands and with a diversity of partners is necessary for implementing a coastal habitat conservation strategy, especially in coastal watersheds where land ownership is often a mosaic of private and public entities. This ability also creates a unique opportunity for the Service to deliver landscape conservation, maintain habitat connectivity and continuity, and to connect and engage partners with the Service’s conservation priorities and objectives.

Habitat protection is an important component of the Service’s landscape-scale conservation strategy. Coastal Program fulfills a unique role by providing both technical and financial assistance for third-party land acquisitions to protect habitats. This practice allows the Service to complement its land holdings and expand its conservation efforts beyond the boundaries of the National Wildlife Refuges System.

How do we select conservation projects?

Field staff work directly with partners to implement conservation projects that support the following goals:

  • Creating coastal ecosystems that are resilient and adaptive to climate change impacts.
  • Using science-based conservation design at a landscape scale that supports habitat connectivity and ecological integrity.
  • Benefitting the conservation and recovery of federal trust species and other priority species.
  • Building conservation partnerships that leverage resources and promote community stewardship of fish and wildlife resources.

Want to find out more about working with the Coastal Program?

The best way to start working with the Coastal Program is to contact one of our field staff. To find local field staff, check under Contact.