Conserving the Nature of America
Press Release
Interior Secretary Awards States More than $20 Million in Grants Supporting Coastal Wetlands Conservation, Recreation and Communities
Central and Southern California coastal wetlands projects receive $2 million in grant funding

May 8, 2019

Contact(s):

John Heil, john_heil@fws.gov, 916.414.6636



Sacramento, Calif. Today, U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary David Bernhardt is awarding more than $20 million to 22 projects in 11 coastal states to protect, restore or enhance more than 7,000 acres of coastal wetlands and adjacent upland habitats under the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant Program. Two restoration projects in California will receive $2 million to restore critical habitat for numerous federally listed species in Newport Beach and Monterey Bay.

State and local governments, private landowners, conservation groups and other partners will contribute more than $26.7 million in additional funds to the 22 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.

“Through the National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant Program, we are demonstrating our commitment to promoting coastal sustainability with healthy ecosystems, vibrant economies and resilient communities,” said Bernhardt. “These projects will continue successful conservation partnerships with numerous public, non-profit and private stakeholders while providing public education and research opportunities as well as conserving thousands of acres of coastal habitat.”

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.

Other states receiving funds this year are Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin. Click here for the complete list of projects funded by the 2019 grant program.

“These grants are a superb example of states, local governments and private landowners working hand-in-hand with the federal government to ensure coastal communities and their irreplaceable natural environments continue to thrive for future generations,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Principal Deputy Director Margaret Everson. “In addition to providing myriad conservation and economic benefits, these grants will increase recreational opportunities for anglers, boaters, hunters and wildlife-watchers across the nation.”

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 in the vicinity of wetlands restoration projects.

The Service awards grants of up to $1 million to states based on a national competition, which enables states to determine and address their highest conservation priorities in coastal areas. Since 1992, the Service has awarded more than $400 million in grants under the program.

California projects receiving grants today are:
 

Big Canyon Wetlands Restoration

The California State Coastal Conservancy is awarded $1 million to restore 9.6 acres of coastal wetlands and associated uplands draining to Upper Newport Bay in the 60-acre Big Canyon Nature Park in Newport Beach, California. The project goal is to restore a self-sustaining coastal wetlands complex across the tidal to freshwater to uplands continuum. Specifically, the project will restore and enhance 1,000 feet of channel and instream habitat, 5.8 acres of riparian scrub, 0.5 acres of alkali meadow and 3.3 acres of coastal sage scrub. Big Canyon Creek is in urgent need of habitat restoration and enhancement due to watershed impacts from channel incision, loss of floodplain, unstable banks, poor water quality and aggressive encroachment of invasive species. This project will benefit listed species including least Bell’s vireo, Belding’s savannah sparrow, coastal California gnatcatcher, light-footed Ridgway’s rail and California least tern.

Elkhorn Slough Tidal Marsh Restoration Phase 2

The California State Coastal Conservancy, in partnership with the Elkhorn Slough Foundation, California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve, is awarded $1 million to restore approximately 30 acres of tidal wetlands in Elkhorn Slough near Moss Landing and to establish perennial grassland on five acres adjacent to the restored tidal wetlands. The project is Phase II of a larger plan to restore at least 100 acres of tidal marshes in Elkhorn Slough and the adjoining 35 acres of existing buffer areas to perennial grassland. The Elkhorn Slough estuary supports the largest tract of salt marsh on the west coast south of San Francisco Bay. Restoration of tidal marsh along the central coast of California carries particular significance because of the relative rarity of tidal marsh and the extent of its historic loss. Along the 300-mile stretch of coastline from Point Reyes to Point Conception, only 4,490 acres of tidal marsh exist, of which Elkhorn Slough accounts for 17 percent.

The National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant Program is administered by the Service and funded under provisions of the 1990 Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection and Restoration Act. Funding is provided by Sport Fish Restoration Act revenue – money generated from an excise tax on fishing equipment, motorboat and small engine fuels.

More information is available at: http://www.fws.gov/coastal/CoastalGrants/index.html.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service works with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information about our work and the people who make it happen, visit https://www.fws.gov/cno/ or connect with us via Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Flickr.

 

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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.

For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit http://www.fws.gov/. Connect with our Facebook page, follow our tweets, watch our YouTube Channel and download photos from our Flickr page.