November 16, 2010
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Celebrates 25 Years of the Coastal Program
Projects in Great Lakes States Benefit Fish and Wildlife
The U.S. Fish Wildlife Service’s Coastal Program is celebrating its 25th year of conserving coastal wetlands and habitats for fish and wildlife across the country. The Coastal Program focuses the Service’s efforts in bays, estuaries and watersheds around the U.S. coastline, including the Great Lakes.
The purpose of the Coastal Program is to work together with partners to conserve fish and wildlife and their habitats. The Service provides financial, planning, and other technical assistance to cooperators through the Coastal Program to 23 high-priority coastal ecosystems across the nation.
Great Lakes Coastal Program projects are geared toward conserving and protecting fish, wildlife and habitat in the Great Lakes Basin, the world’s largest fresh water system and the nation’s fourth largest coastline.
This remarkable program received the Restoration Partnership Award at the Restore America’s Estuaries Conference, which recognizes an individual or group demonstrating dedication, commitment and passion for estuary habitat restoration.
“The Coastal Program is a shining example of how people from all different sectors can work together to accomplish remarkable conservation achievements,” said Acting Fish and Wildlife Service Director Rowan Gould. “This voluntary, cooperative program has conserved some of our nation’s most imperiled estuaries, wetlands and coastal habitats for current and future generations to enjoy.”
In the Great Lakes, restoration of a golf course in Wisconsin is among many coastal projects. The Ozaukee Washington Land Trust acquired the 116-acre property in October 2008, and immediately started plans for restoration activities. In partnership with state and local biologists, ornithologists, and restoration specialists, the Ozaukee Washington Land Trust and the Coastal Program developed a restoration plan for Forest Beach Migratory Preserve. Nine separate types of habitats will be created, improving stopover habitat which supports migratory birds as they fly over. Viewing platforms will be constructed to provide views and guide visitors to best wildlife-watching opportunities. Forest Beach Migratory Preserve will likely to become a major Wisconsin birding destination, and will also be highly attractive to numerous other nature enthusiasts.
There are now 23 Coastal Program offices throughout the United States including the Great Lakes and the U.S. Commonwealths and Territories, dedicated to protecting, restoring and conserving coastal areas. The Coastal Program has proven that a voluntary approach to coastal habitat conservation works. By providing technical assistance, funding and other resources to partners including federal, state and local agencies, and private landowners, the program has restored 251,000 acres of coastal wetlands and coastal upland habitat, permanently protected nearly 2 million acres of coastal habitat, and restored 1,700 miles of riparian and in-stream habitat. These coastal wetlands provide for improved water quality, increased water storage and supply, reduced flood and storm surge risk, and vital habitat for plants, fish and wildlife.
Despite the numerous gains made in conserving coastal habitat by the Coastal Program and other similar voluntary, incentive-based programs, threats to coastal ecosystems have become even more challenging. Climate change poses numerous and complex threats to coastal wetlands and the fish and wildlife they support throughout the United States, including sea level rise, more invasive species, and increases in ocean temperatures and acidity. In addition, scientists predict increased flooding of populated coastal areas and further decreases in water quality, changes that will severely impact not only fish and wildlife species, but humans as well. Given the magnitude of these threats, there is now more than ever a strong need for public-private partnerships to protect and restore coastal wetland habitats.
The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.
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