NOAA Announces Awards for Coastal and Marine Fish Habitat Protection

NOAA and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation have awarded $135,000—and leveraged nearly $320,000 in matching, non-federal funds—for five fish habitat protection projects on the Pacific Coast. This funding program was developed to promote voluntary coastal and marine protection activities within the National Fish Habitat Partnership. Each of the funded projects was endorsed by the Pacific Marine and Estuarine Fish Habitat Partnership and/or the California Fish Passage Forum. The projects will incorporate the support of community conservation organizations, farmers, homeowners, recreational anglers, and boaters to protect habitat for threatened and endangered salmon and other commercially and recreationally valuable fish.

Funded projects include:

Increasing water flow during critical Coho salmon and steelhead trout migration in the San Gregorio watershed, California (American Rivers)

Establishing a voluntary, no anchor, eelgrass protection zone in Port Townsend, Washington (Northwest Straits Marine Conservation Foundation)

Setting up a neighborhood conservation easement program to protect salmon habitat in San Juan County, Washington (Friends of the San Juans)

Acquiring 167 acres of coastal estuary and freshwater wetlands at Sand Lake, Oregon (North Coast Land Conservancy)

Protecting 120 acres of tidal wetlands in Tillamook Bay, Oregon (Wild Salmon Center)

The final project will complete work started in 2002 when Tillamook County acquired 384 acres of land where the Wilson and Trask Rivers meet at the southern end of Tillamook Bay. They planned to convert active and retired dairy land into wetlands through the removal of an extensive system of levees. But, the restoration could not be completed until adjacent properties were acquired and reconnected to the floodplain.

With this new funding, Tillamook County can finally acquire the adjacent properties to fully reconnect and restore land purchased a decade ago. The project will reduce the stressors on these valuable wetlands—including the levee system, dredge spoil deposits, invasive species, and grazing. It will also allow the county to prepare for the impacts of emerging threats like sea level rise and invasive species.