Conserving the Nature of America External Affairs

Restoration Returns

  Coastal Ecosystem graphic. Credit: USFWS

Healthy natural areas along our coastlines provide many benefits to local communities. They

  • Secure food resources by conserving soil, controlling pests, and benefitting pollinators.
  • Provide for tourism and recreation such as fishing, boating, hunting, and birding.
  • Provide clean air and water by filtering pollutants.
  • Protect communities from flood damage and extreme weather.
  • Support and improve commercial and recreational fisheries.
Economists estimate the value of these benefits to local communities and the public to be more than $100 billion a year.

A new peer-reviewed analysis finds that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife habitat restoration programs are extraordinary engines for the U.S. economy. The report, Restoration Returns: The Contribution of Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program and Coastal Program Projects to Local U.S. Economies, finds that, in working directly with partners to implement vital on- the- ground habitat restoration, these programs created more than 3,900 jobs in Fiscal Year 2011, generating a total economic stimulus of $327.6 million.

“The Partners for Fish and Wildlife and Coastal programs are important drivers for creating employment. The benefits reach far beyond the local communities where these projects take place to provide national economic stimulus,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Ashe. “At the same time, this restoration work provides benefits to all Americans by creating healthy natural areas, including shorelines, streams, wetlands and forests on privately owned lands.”

News Release
Habitat Restoration Flickr

Region 8

Salt Ponds Restoration Project
San Diego Bay, California

Development has dramatically altered the shoreline of San Diego Bay over the past 150 years. The goal of the South San Diego Bay project was to reverse this trend. The project restored and enhanced a total of 300 acres of estuarine habitats at three different sites in South San Diego Bay. Just days after the project was finished, tens of thousands of shorebirds started using the new intertidal habitat. Avocets, stilts, plovers, pelicans, heron and more gathered to roost and to eat fish. The Active Times ranked San Diego’s Bayshore Bikeway as the best bike path in the nation. The project was recognized by the Administration with the prestigious Coastal America Partnership Award. Project partners included 11 different federal, state and local agencies, along with nonprofit organizations. The project contributed $13.4 million to the local economy and added 130 jobs.

“More than 1/3 of wildlife refuges are in coastal areas and are local economic engines. The Coastal Program is vital in forwarding the mission of the refuge system and makes very good economic and environmental sense.”
~ David Houghton, President, National Wildlife Refuge Association


Nutria Eradication Project
Chesapeake Bay, Maryland

Nutria are invasive South American rodents in wetlands across the United States. These large rodents eat plant roots in marshlands. Without root mats to anchor wetland grasses, open water takes the place of marshes. This destroys habitat for striped bass, blue crabs and other commercial species. Nutria were imported into Dorchester County, Maryland, in 1943 for their fur. They have no natural predators. The nutria population in Maryland has grown exponentially. In 1968, there were less than 150 animals on 10,000 acres of the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge. In 1998, there were as many as 50,000 nutria. The damage is severe: the refuge has lost half of its wetlands since nutria arrived. The Maryland Nutria Project aims to eradicate nutria and restore the state’s coastal marshes. Since 2000, nutria have been removed from over 150,000 acres of public and private land in Dorchester County, Maryland. Strategies include trapping, tracking and searches to find elusive animals. This partnership includes 27 federal, state and private partners. The project contributed $2.5 million to the local economy and added 55 jobs.

“Tudor Farms is over 6,500 acres, of which 2,000 acres are marshland. Without the removal of the nutria on our property, our marshes would be gone forever! We are a great supporter of this project financially and by serving on the management advisory board for the past 12 years.”
~ Kevin Compton, Owner of Tudor Farms