Building a Stronger Coast
Grants promote natural infrastructure projects that strengthen the coast

sunset over a marsh

November 26, 2019 - Three projects supported by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have been awarded 2019 National Coastal Resilience Fund grants. Administered through a partnership between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), Shell, and TransRe, the Fund contributes to activities that use natural infrastructure to protect and strengthen coastal communities and improve fish and wildlife habitat.

Natural, or green infrastructure, boosts the coast’s defenses while providing fish and wildlife habitat. Examples are salt marshes, barrier beaches, and free-flowing rivers. Built, or gray, infrastructure, is often more expensive and reduces wildlife habitat and coastal resilience. Examples are dams, bulkheads, and seawalls.

  • New Jersey Department of Transportation received $2 million to enhance salt marsh at the Service’s Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge using dredged material. The added sediment will raise the height of the marsh, bolstering it against sea-level rise and erosion and restoring habitat for wildlife like the saltmarsh sparrow.
  • Friends of Herring River was granted $300,000 for permitting and final design of a project to restore 900 acres of degraded tidal marsh at the mouth of the Herring River in Wellfleet and Truro, Massachusetts. The project will be the largest of its kind undertaken in the Northeast. The Service is working with federal and state partners to develop a funding strategy for completing the work.
  • Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management received $75,000 for preliminary site design for the second phase of the Quonochontaug Salt Pond restoration in Charlestown, Rhode Island. The project will add natural infrastructure to the existing built infrastructure at the nearly 50-acre site. The first phase of the project received funding from a U.S. Department of the Interior Hurricane Sandy Coastal Resilience Competitive Grant administered by NFWF and from the Service’s Coastal Program.

News Release

Salt marshes like this one at Parker River National Wildlife Refuge offer important wildlife habitat, buffer waves and wind, and absorb floodwaters, creating a stronger coast.
Credit: Steve Droter

Students help build a stronger coast

Students at Kent Island High School in Queen Anne’s County, Maryland, with a completed reef ball

November 13, 2019 - Thanks to a grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, students on Maryland’s Eastern Shore are taking concrete steps to help wildlife and people.

Environmental classes at Kent Island High School created reef balls, which will be used to create living shorelines in Chesapeake Bay. The balls offer habitat for oysters and other wildlife while buffering the coast from waves and storm surge. In turn, the oysters filter the water, increasing the bay’s clarity.

The Service’s Chesapeake Bay Field Office partnered with Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center, Coastal Conservation Association, and Maryland Department of Natural Resources to provide the program. It will continue through Spring 2021, producing 200 reef balls.

Watch the video

Students at Kent Island High School in Queen Anne’s County, Maryland, with a completed reef ball.
Credit: David Sutherland

Second dam on Coonamessett River to come down

fish swimming underwater

October 30, 2019 - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service gathered with partners on Monday to kick off the next phase of restoring the Coonamessett River in Falmouth, Massachusetts. The project is supported by Hurricane Sandy Resilience Program funds.

Phase 1 of the project, completed in spring 2018, included removal of the first dam from the ocean, installation of a boardwalk, reconstruction of the river channel, and restoration of 11 acres of wetlands bordering the river.

Phase 2 will include construction of a second boardwalk, removal of the next dam upstream, replacement of deteriorating culverts under a busy roadway, and restoration of cranberry bogs to riverside wetlands. It should be complete by Spring 2020.

The second phase will restore more than a mile of river, nearly 40 acres of wetlands, and three acres of upland. Migratory fish, including river herring, will have increased access to spawning and rearing habitat, and the local community will be safer due to reduced risk from flooding and dam failure.

Watch a video about Phase I of the project

Migratory fish like river herring will benefit from restoration of the Coonamessett River in Falmouth, Massachusetts.
Credit: Chesapeake Bay Program/Will Parson

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Last updated: March 10, 2020