On June 30, 2009, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke announced that 50 coastal restoration projects will be funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. From the Great Lakes in the Midwest to dam removal in the West, $167 million will be invested in marine and coastal habitat restoration. When complete, 8,900 acres will have benefited from the Recovery Act. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will be overseeing the projects.
The official slant the government is taking on the projects is it will provide green jobs. I suppose the funding source dictates what emphasis is placed on promoting the projects to the public rather than focusing on the environmental benefits alone. Jane Lubchenco, NOAA administrator, explains:
NOAA is investing in green jobs for Americans to restore habitat for valuable fish and wildlife and strengthen coastal communities, making them more resilient to storms, sea-level rise and other effects of climate change. In addition to the immediate jobs created by the projects, stronger and healthier coastal communities will boost our nation’s long-term economic health.
According to NOAA, many of the projects exist in states with the highest unemployment rates. The following is a short list of funded projects. A full list of all 50 coastal and marine restoration projects is provided by NOAA.
- Tingue Dam Bypass and Naugatuck River Restoration (Seymour, Conn.) — $2.5 million — Constructs a bypass around the Tingue Dam and restores 32 miles of historic migratory fish passage for American shad, river herring, sea-run brown trout, and the American eel on the Naugatuck River.
- New Haven and East Lyme Marsh Restoration (New Haven, Conn.) — $1.5 million — Remedies three dysfunctional tide gates and restores 108 acres of tidal marsh and open habitat on the West River and Bride Brook lake.
- Patapsco River Restoration (Baltimore, Md.) — $4 million — Removes the Union and Simkins dams on the Patapsco River, opening 8 river miles for alewife, blueback herring, and American eel. This project is part of a much larger coastal conservation initiative to restore more than 30 miles in the Patapsco River Watershed for diadromous and resident fish species.
- Coastal Alabama Restoration (Bayou la Batre, Ala.) — $2.9 million — Rebuilds oyster reef and natural breakwater structures along 1.5 miles of shoreline. 19 acres of property will be protected by this project.
- Lost River Preserve Restoration (St. Petersburg, Fla.) — $750,000 — Rebuilds 43 acres of estuarine, freshwater wetlands and restore native vegetation, also reconnecting to the Cockroach Bay Preserve.
- Northeast Florida Wetland Restoration (Merritt Island/Cape Canaveral, Fla.) — $2.7 million — Removes hydrological barriers and restores 1,002 acres of intertidal coastal wetlands, salt marsh and mangrove stands, which serve as nursery habitat for a number of commercially and recreationally important fish.
- Milwaukee River and Watershed Restoration (Port Washington, Wisc.) — $4.7 million — Removes a number of fish passage barriers and a dam, enhance watershed habitat and reconnect 158 stream miles to Lake Michigan.
- Dunes Creek Watershed Restoration (Hammond, Ind.) — $1.4 million — Restores and reconnects Lake Michigan to nearly six miles of stream spawning habitat for migratory fish.
- Muskegon Lake Restoration (Muskegon, Mich.) — $10 million — Restores 24 acres of wetland and stabilizes shoreline at 10 separate locations for this Great Lakes Area of Concern.
- Southeast Alaska Salmon Habitat Restoration — $992,000 — Remedies a barrier on the Klawock River, restoring passage for migrating juvenile salmon to 460 acres of estuarine eelgrass habitat.
- Alaska Marine Debris Removal and Restoration — $1 million — Conducts a statewide coastal marine debris removal of a total of 466 metric tons at multiple locations throughout rural coastal Alaska. A large derelict vessel removal will be implemented through this award.
- Gold Ray Dam Removal (Medford, Ore.) — $5 million — Removes the Gold Ray Dam and opens more than 333 miles of the Rogue River to steelhead, Chinook, and endangered coho salmon.
- Delta Ponds Restoration (Eugene, Ore.) — $1.6 million — Restores and enhances 21 acres and two miles of the Willamette River riparian and wetland habitat by removing invasive plants and constructing channels between seven ponds, providing access to important refuge habitat for juvenile Chinook salmon.
- South San Diego Bay Restoration (San Diego, Calif.) — $2.9 million — Restores tidal circulation to former salt ponds, restore 120 acres of intertidal wetlands, as well as removes non-native vegetation and replaces it with native estuarine plants.
- California Coastal Fisheries Restoration Partnership — $1.5 million — Employs California Conservation Corps members to complete more than 20 identified coastal restoration activities that benefit threatened and endangered salmon throughout coastal California.
- Elkhorn Slough Restoration (Watsonville, Calif.) — $3.9 million — Restores tidal flow, reduces erosion, and creates long-term protection and erosion control for more than seven acres of wetland directly and 450 acres overall. This project also prevents seawater intrusion into the coastal aquifer, which supports more than $100 million annually in agricultural production.
- Maunalua Bay Reef Restoration (Maunalua Bay, Hawaii) — $3.4 million — Restores 23 acres of coral reefs through manual removal of invasive algae.
- Laolao Bay Coastal Restoration (LaoLao Beach/Saipan, CNMI) — $2.9 million — In coordination with the grantee, NOAA will directly invest Recovery Act funds to restore Saipan’s coral reefs by removing and addressing sources of upland sediment. This will include restoring 15 acres of upland habitat , road upgrades, drainage improvements, and elimination of unsustainable beach activities.
- Pelekane Bay Watershed Restoration (Pelekane Bay, Hawaii) — $2.7 million — Restores more than 1,463 acres of coastal and marine habitat by reducing sediment and runoff impacts to coral reefs through erosion control and replanting native upland vegetation.
A strong economy and clean environment are interrelated. NOAA agrees the link is critical even while focusing on the jobs the projects will create:
Healthy coastal habitats are critical to the recovery and sustainability of the U.S. economy. Coastal areas generate more than 28 million jobs in the United States. Commercial and recreational fishing employs 1.5 million people and contributes $111 billion to the nation’s economy.
You can track progress of NOAA projects in your area by viewing the Restoration Atlas and reading weekly reports.