National Wildlife Refuge System

Conserving Coastal Wetlands and Wildlife

A $1 million grant will protect 2,585 acres of coastal wetlands and habitat for such animals as the Steller sea lion at Kodiak Refuge, AK.
Credit: USFWS

January 23, 2014 – New grants to support critical coastal wetlands will protect habitat for oysters, Steller sea lions, wood storks and more – including substantial restoration on or near national wildlife refuges. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) Director Dan Ashe today announced $16.5 million in grants to support 21 critical coastal wetland projects in 12 states and Puerto Rico under the National Coastal Grants Wetlands Conservation Grants Program.  The grants are funded through excise taxes paid by anglers and boaters.

An eagle soars over Savannah National Wildlife Refuge, GA, where habitat will also be protected for Wood storks and swallow-tailed kites.
Credit: Garry Tucker

Coastal wetlands comprise less than 10 percent of the nation’s land area yet support a significant number of wildlife species, including 75 percent of migratory birds, nearly 80 percent of fish and shellfish, and about half of all our threatened and endangered species. Wetlands in coastal watersheds in the U.S. are experiencing a net annual loss of about 80,160 acres.

The complete list of projects funded by the 2014 grant program can be found here.

Projects involving national wildlife refuges include:

  • Protect and restore the estuary near Willapa Bay National Wildlife Refuge, WA, considered one of the most pristine estuaries in the United States. It is one of the most productive commercial oyster areas in the U.S. and also serves as a stopping point for 100,000 shorebirds during spring migration;
  • Protect wetlands near Savannah National Wildlife Refuge, GA, habitat for the endangered Wood stork,  swallow-tailed kite and other wildlife;
  • Acquire land near Cedar Island National Wildlife Refuge, NC, which includes wetlands, peatland pocosin, longleaf pine flatwoods and maritime forest. The new property will be managed as public game land;
  • Acquire an easement on Mount Airy Farm within Rappahannock River Valley National Wildlife Refuge, VA, to permanently protect 170 acres of freshwater marsh, wetland and farmland from development;
  • Protect coastal wetlands and near-shore habitat within Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge, AK, for such wildlife as salmonids, Steller sea lions and Steller eider;
  • Restore coastal wetlands and uplands on Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge, CA. to saltmarsh and brackish or freshwater marsh. The project will restore habitat for several threatened or endangered fish.

The Service awards grants of up to $1 million to states based on a national competition, which allows states to determine and address their highest conservation priorities in coastal areas.
Since 1992, the Service has awarded $336 million in grants under the program.

News release

Last updated: January 24, 2014