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Restoration work in Delaware. Photo credit: NOAA.

Science

Nineteen research projects that protect life and property, strengthen the economy, and conserve as well as restore coastal and marine resources were recommended to receive a total of $13.8 million in funding through the 2017 NOAA Coastal Resilience Grants program on 14 July 2017.

The projects cover 17 states and Puerto Rico, and will restore 1,100 acres of habitat and prepare more than 350 coastal communities to withstand extreme weather and related hazards.

Every two dollars of federal funds must be matched by a non-federal contribution of at least one dollar by the project organizers, adding another $8.3 million and bringing the total to $22.1 million.

“From restoring estuaries that provide natural shoreline protection to reducing coastal flooding impacts, the projects supported by these grants assist in ensuring the safety and vibrancy of our nation’s coastal communities and economies,” said Russell Callender, Ph.D., assistant NOAA administrator for the National Ocean Service. “We are pleased to partner with local agencies and groups on the ground to have the greatest impact.”

NOAA received more than 167 proposals in 2017, requesting more than $135 million. The proposals were reviewed by a panel of coastal management experts and scientists from around the United States that included representatives of government, academia and private industry.

State and local government agencies and several non-governmental organizations will use these funds to improve their ability to prepare for and recover from a variety of coastal threats, including hurricanes, tsunamis and sea-level rise.

Specifically, the projects will reduce the costs of floods for communities; improve habitats that communities rely on for productive fisheries; build capacity of local officials to prepare for and recover from coastal storms and tsunamis; and remove obsolete, hazardous dams that threaten public safety. The program brings together two existing grants programs within NOAA’s National Ocean Service and NOAA Fisheries that have provided funding for coastal resilience projects since 2015. Since then, NOAA has awarded $20 million to projects aiding communities as they recover from Hurricane Matthew, reducing the effects of coastal flooding on ports and military installations, implementing new approaches to deal with shoreline erosion, and removing dams to reduce local flooding, improve safety and restore fish passage.

A full list of the 2017 projects follows. Learn more about the Coastal Resilience Grants Program.

WEST COAST

Preparing the Oregon Coast for a Catastrophic Tsunami

Applicant: Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development

Recommended Federal Funding: $285,000

Match: $142,500

For this project, new tsunami evacuation maps, improved evacuation procedures, and innovative land use strategies will be created for Port Orford, Newport, Lincoln City, Rockaway Beach, and Gearhart, Oregon. Local leaders and citizens will work together to investigate community vulnerabilities and identify land use strategies that provide the greatest potential to lessen the loss of life and property from a catastrophic tsunami. The Department of Land Conservation and Development, in partnership with the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries, will lead this effort.

Project Partners: Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries, Port Orford, Newport, Lincoln City, Rockaway Beach, and Gearhart, Oregon

Ravenswood Restoration Project

Applicant: Ducks Unlimited, Inc.

Recommended Federal Funding: $1,500,000

Match: $1,000,000

Ducks Unlimited will work with NOAA to implement the Ravenswood Restoration Project in the South San Francisco Bay. This project will restore 280 acres of former salt evaporation ponds to estuarine habitat as part of the larger 15,000-acre South Bay Salt Ponds Restoration Project, the largest restoration project on the West Coast. The project will restore wetland and channel habitats, enhance habitat connectivity, and improve protection of Bay communities from extreme weather and changing environmental conditions. The integration of levee improvements with tidal wetland habitat restoration is a cost-effective and nature-based approach to provide shoreline and community flood protection. Restored habitat will support sustainable fisheries and contribute to the recovery of protected resources—specifically the Central California Coast population of steelhead and forage fish populations in the South San Francisco Bay.

Project Partners: City of Menlo Park, Santa Clara Valley Water District, San Francisquito Creek Joint Powers Authority, Save San Francisco Bay Association (Save the Bay)

Butano Channel Restoration and Resiliency Project

Applicant: San Mateo County Resource Conservation District

Recommended Federal Funding: $1,464,716

Match: $1,166,500

The San Mateo County Resource Conservation District will work with NOAA and other partners to re-establish 8,000 feet of the historic Butano Creek. They will remove 45,000 cubic yards of sediment and reuse it to restore 28 acres of degraded marsh. Sediment accumulation has filled the historic channel of Butano Creek, causing local flooding and blocking salmon from accessing key habitat in the watershed. Restoring the connectivity of Butano Creek through Butano Marsh will re-establish access to 10 miles of habitat, including critical refuge habitat for Endangered Species Act-listed steelhead and coho. The project will also increase resilience in this system by reducing the frequency and duration of flooding, improving the public safety and economic conditions for the Pescadero community.

Project Partners: U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Peninsula Open Space Trust, Trout Unlimited, American Rivers, California State Parks, local landowners and farmers

Restoring Resiliency in Puget Sound Stillaguamish River Delta

Applicant: Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

Recommended Federal Funding: $1,446,985

Match: $1,000,000

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife will work with NOAA and other local partners to restore 337 acres of wetlands in the Stillaguamish River delta of Puget Sound, Washington. As a gateway to the Stillaguamish River basin spawning and rearing areas, the restored estuarine habitat will provide valuable foraging opportunities and refuge habitat for migratory species, including Endangered Species Act-listed Puget Sound Chinook. This restoration project will breach existing dikes, build a setback dike, re-establish and enhance off-channel habitat, and re-establish tidal flow into the area. Not only will a new setback dike provide protection to critical infrastructure and private property, but the restored habitat will also provide natural flood protection because it can absorb and store large amounts of rainwater or water runoff during a storm, in addition to providing a buffer for tidal influence during periods of high water.

Project Partners: Stillaguamish Tribe, Skagit River Systems Cooperative, The Nature Conservancy

Kilisut Harbor Channel Restoration

Applicant: North Olympic Salmon Coalition

Recommended Federal Funding: $548,000

Match: $274,000

The North Olympic Salmon Coalition, in collaboration with NOAA and the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe, will replace an earthen causeway and culverts with a bridge that will allow for tidal flow between southern Kilisut Harbor and Oak Bay. The project will restore 27 acres of tidal wetlands and improve water quality in Kilisut Harbor. Water quality improvements are expected to lower water temperature and reduce the potential for low dissolved-oxygen levels. This will help shellfish and Endangered Species Act-listed Puget Sound Chinook and Hood Canal summer chum. Upgrading the only road access to an island community by raising the road and embedded utilities will improve the community’s resilience by reducing its vulnerability to flooding.

Project Partners: Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe, U.S. Navy, Washington Department of Transportation, Washington Department of Natural Resources

Winter Lake Restoration Project

Applicant: Beaver Slough Drainage District

Recommended Federal Funding: $750,000

Match: $375,000

The Beaver Slough Drainage District, NOAA, and its partners will restore 407 acres of tidal wetlands, provide overwinter habitat for juvenile coho salmon, and re-establish fish access to 1,300 acres within the Coquille River estuary of southwestern Oregon. The project will create high-quality habitat by restoring more than seven miles of tidal channels, removing drainage canals and interior dikes, replacing undersized culverts with bridges to improve fish passage, and planting more than 200 acres with wetland plants. This project will address a key limiting factor for Endangered Species Act-listed coho salmon populations by providing an off-channel, slow-moving water refuge for juvenile coho and will add approximately 122,000 smolts annually to the Coquille River. This project also establishes new stakeholder partnerships with agricultural and recreational hunting communities.

Project Partners: Beaver Slough Drainage District, The Nature Conservancy, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, China Creek Gun Club, Coquille Indian Tribe, Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service

GREAT LAKES

Improving Economic Security in Coastal Wisconsin

Applicant: Wisconsin Department of Administration

Recommended Federal Funding: $840,000

Match: $420,518

Southeastern Wisconsin wants to reduce damages caused by coastal hazards, such as erosion, coastal storms, and fluctuating water levels. For this project, guidance will be developed with regard to options for protecting bluff, beach, and harbor ecosystems and the coastal economy. Exploring future possibilities through scenario development and improving risk communication are also parts of the effort. The Wisconsin Department of Administration’s Wisconsin Coastal Management Program is leading this project, and participation involves four coastal counties, 22 coastal municipalities, and various state and local organizations.

Project Partners: University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute, University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission

SOUTHEAST

A Regional Approach to Disaster Resiliency through Community Planning in Georgia

Applicant: Georgia Department of Natural Resources

Recommended Federal Funding: $370,000

Match: $303,000

Comprehensive disaster recovery and redevelopment plans will be developed for six coastal counties in Georgia: Bryan, Camden, Wayne, Effingham, Liberty, and Long. The goal is to ensure that the rebuilding that occurs after a catastrophic disaster or major storm aligns with local values and overcomes obstacles to innovative community reconstruction. Upon completion, Georgia will be the first state in the country to have recovery plans for all coastal counties. For this project, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Coastal Management Program, working in partnership with other federal and state agencies, will lead engagement with county officials and stakeholders and lead plan development.

Project Partners: Georgia Conservancy, Georgia Emergency Management Agency–Homeland Security, Southeast Disaster Recovery Partnership, NOAA, Federal Emergency Management Agency

Low-Tech Rehabilitation of Coral Reef Ecosystem Services: Test Beds to Reduce Vulnerability

Applicant: University of Puerto Rico–Rio Piedras

Recommended Federal Funding: $200,000

Match: $100,000

The University of Puerto Rico will work with NOAA to develop a model to help identify and prioritize coral restoration sites that not only contribute to the recovery of federally listed coral species, but also provide significant coastal shoreline protection benefits by reducing the impacts of waves. The project will quantify and model the wave energy attenuation effect of coral reef restoration at multiple sites within the Northeast Puerto Rico Habitat Focus Area. Having this tool will allow partners to select restoration sites that contribute to the recovery of federally listed corals and optimize wave attenuation, potentially reducing the risk of property loss and vulnerability of housing and hotel infrastructure along the shoreline from extreme storm events.

Project Partners: Sociedad Ambiente Marino, Coralations, Inc., Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources

NORTHEAST

Reducing Flood Risk in New England with Nature-Based Infrastructure

Applicant: The Nature Conservancy

Recommended Federal Funding: $999,999

Match: $500,000

This regional effort to reduce flood risk in New England is focused on increasing the effective use of nature-based infrastructure for flood protection. The project team will develop region-specific information on suitable natural infrastructure types and benefits and will work with several communities to implement and monitor a range of nature-based coastal infrastructure projects. The experience gained here will benefit communities across the region and help to advance local, state, and national policies to promote effective use of the approach to reducing flood risk. The Nature Conservancy, in partnership with a consortium of state coastal zone management programs, is leading the project.

Project Partners: Maine Coastal Management Program, New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services Coastal Program, Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management, Rhode Island Coastal Resource Management Council, University of Connecticut, Northeast Regional Ocean Council

Removal of Upper and Lower Sawyer Mill Dams

Applicant: New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services

Recommended Federal Funding: $370,000

Match: $185,500

The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, Sawyer Mill Associates, and NOAA will remove two 12-foot high dams on the Bellamy River, where it runs below the Sawyer Mill Apartment complex. These are the lowest two dams on the Bellamy River, a tributary to the Great Bay Estuary. The dams targeted for removal are rated as “high hazard” by the state. In addition to increasing safety for the residents and eliminating maintenance costs related to the dams, the project will remove contaminated sediment, allow fish to pass upstream to spawning habitats, and restore 21 acres of floodplain wetlands.

Project Partners: Sawyer Mill Associates, Inc., City of Dover, New Hampshire Fish and Game Department, New England Wild Flower Society, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, The Nature Conservancy

Improving Coastal Habitat and Community Resiliency in Quonochontaug Pond

Applicant: Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council

Recommended Federal Funding: $982,103

Match: $491,650

The Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council, in partnership with NOAA, will increase salt marsh surface elevations and restore natural marsh hydrology by placing a thin layer of sediment across 30 acres of degraded marsh within Quonochontaug Pond. Rhode Island salt marsh complexes serve as the first line of defense against coastal storms for coastal communities like Charlestown and Westerly. However, these salt marsh systems are among the most vulnerable to the effects of sea level rise. The primary goal of this project is to improve the condition and resilience of the marshes by increasing salt marsh surface elevations. The project will also improve a public access point and boat launch used for recreational activities, and improve nearby eelgrass habitat for commercial and recreational fisheries.

Project Partners: Town of Charlestown, Save the Bay, Salt Ponds Coalition, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Coastal Program, Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management Jones River-Elm Street Dam Removal at Head of Tide

Applicant: Jones River Watershed Association

Recommended Federal Funding: $553,270

Match: $301,847

The Jones River Watershed Association, working with the Massachusetts Division of Ecological Restoration, Town of Kingston, NOAA, and other partners, will remove an undersized concrete dam and spillway that has limited capacity during flood events. This deficiency creates risks to surrounding property and damage to surrounding habitats. Removal of the dam will eliminate safety risks, liability, and maintenance costs associated with the dam, improve water quality, and increase spawning access to four miles of mainstem habitat and five miles of tributary for species such as shad and river herring.

Project Partners: Massachusetts Division of Ecological Restoration, Division of Marine Fisheries, Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, Town of Kingston

MID-ATLANTIC

Reducing Impacts of Storm Flooding through Natural and Nature-based Infrastructure in Virginia

Applicant: Virginia Institute of Marine Science

Recommended Federal Funding: $834,991

Match: $418,640

This effort is focused on addressing flooding issues across coastal Virginia through use of nature-based infrastructure. This includes developing informative tools that allow local planners in 37 coastal counties to determine suitable areas to implement natural infrastructure. Guidance for use in Virginia’s coastal habitats and other outcomes of this effort will assist local communities in implementing successful natural infrastructure plans and understanding the many co-benefits, including water quality improvements and flood risk reduction. The Virginia Institute of Marine Science, working with project partners that include the Virginia Coastal Policy Center, Wetlands Watch, and many state agencies, is leading this effort.

Project Partners: Virginia Coastal Policy Center, Wetlands Watch, Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary Partnership

GULF OF MEXICO

A Coastal Hazards Training Program for Local Government Officials along the Gulf Coast

Applicant: National Association of Counties Research Foundation

Recommended Federal Funding: $650,000

Match: $335,024

The goal for this project is to help communities better prepare for, recover from, and adapt to extreme weather and climate-related events. Included in the effort is a web-based professional education program for local government officials that includes best practices for communicating risk-related information and strategies for addressing coastal challenges. The program will include local workshops and technical assistance that supports team-based approaches for implementing hazard mitigation strategies at the regional level. This program will result in more resilient coastal economies and effective stewardship of natural resources along the Gulf Coast. The National Association of Counties Research Foundation, in partnership with the Association of State Floodplain Managers and Coastal States Organization, is leading this project.

Project Partners: Association of State Floodplain Managers, and Coastal States Organization

Overcoming Barriers to Flood Resilience in Northern Gulf of Mexico Coastal Communities

Applicant: Marine Environmental Sciences Consortium, Dauphin Island Sea Lab

Recommended Federal Funding: $496,285

Match: $250,689

Through a series of short films, small-grant funding, and technical assistance, this project will enhance the region’s ability to address coastal flooding impacts and recovery in Mississippi, Alabama, and Northwest Florida. The project will raise awareness of challenges and issues that communities are facing in preparing for extreme weather and climate-related hazards and assist with the implementation of solutions that save lives and protect the economy. The Dauphin Island Sea Lab, led by the Northern Gulf of Mexico Sentinel Site Cooperative, will guide a team of federal, regional, state, and local project partners charged with this task.

Project Partners: Dauphin Island Sea Lab, Northern Gulf of Mexico Sentinel Site Cooperative, NOAA Office for Coastal Management and National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium, University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension, Mississippi Department of Marine Resources, Gulf of Mexico Climate Community of Practice, Louisiana Sea Grant, Escambia County, Florida

Oyster Reef Restoration in Naples Bay, Florida

Applicant: City of Naples

Recommended Federal Funding: $484,244

Match: $302,336

The City of Naples, working in partnership with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and NOAA, will restore five acres of oyster reef in three locations in Naples Bay where oysters have experienced an 80 percent decline. Reef-ball and shell-bag pod reefs will naturally protect more than 1,000 feet of mangrove shoreline from storm surge and help restore mangrove and seagrass habitat. This habitat restoration effort will also improve water quality and increase the local community’s awareness of the benefits of living shorelines.

Project Partners: Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Big Cypress Basin of the South Florida Water Management District

PACIFIC

Enhancing Local Preparedness in Hawaii with Real-Time Notifications of High-Wave Flooding

Applicant: University of Hawaii

Recommended Federal Funding: $500,000

Match: $287,374

This project is helping Hawaii’s coastal communities prepare for large-wave and high-tide events that significantly damage the shore and impact the local economy. New information and real-time tools to forecast flooding on West Maui will help local officials enhance preparedness, improve response operations, and inform future land use planning scenarios. Additionally, this work will benefit lifeguards, emergency personnel, road crews, and coastal residents who will be able to better understand and plan for associated risks. The forecast system developed for this project will be replicable for other communities in Hawaii and the Pacific Islands. The University of Hawaii’s Pacific Islands Ocean Observing System (PacIOOS) is leading this partnership effort.

Project Partners: Pacific Islands Ocean Observing System, University of Hawaii School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, University of Hawaii Sea Grant College Program, County of Maui Planning Department, State of Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources

Restoring Hawaiian Fisheries and Coastal Communities through Fishpond Estuaries

Applicant: The Nature Conservancy

Recommended Federal Funding: $500,000

Match: $440,621

NOAA and The Nature Conservancy will restore coastal habitat and fisheries, and promote community resilience on the island of Hawaii. Through this restoration project, The Nature Conservancy and its partners will restore up to seven acres of estuarine fishpond habitat, as well as promote the exchange of knowledge among fishpond management practitioners. The project will include the rebuilding of rock walls to maintain structural integrity and improve water flow, removal of invasive species, and management of important local fish species. Nearshore ecosystems will be improved by restoring traditional fishpond, coastal estuarine, coral reef, and aquatic habitats. By helping local communities restore this important traditional aquaculture system, we are building community and cultural resilience in the region.

Project Partners: The Nature Conservancy; Kuaʻāina Ulu ʻAuamo, Hui Mālama Loko Iʻa, State of Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources, Hui Loko Network, U.S. Forest Service, Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail, National Park Service, Waimea Elementary School, Kamehameha Schools, Honaunau Elementary School, Hawaii Preparatory Academy, University of Hawaii at Hilom, Kanu o Ka ‘Āina, Parker School, Pu’ukohala National Historic Park, Kukio Community Association, Honoka’a High School

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