NOAA Recommends $123 Million for Coastal Resilience

Apr 22, 2024

Congresswoman Chellie Pingree and Wells Reserve Manager Paul Dest were on hand to celebrate the $8,759,568 in Bipartisan Infrastructure Act funding for three projects to help build community resilience in Maine. These initiatives aim to conserve and restore salt marshes in Wells and Scarborough and restore tidal flow to support migratory fish in Brunswick and Perry. 

Today, champions for coastal resilience in Maine gathered to applaud the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) recommendation of $123 million in funding to support National Estuarine Research Reserves (NERRS) and Coastal Zone Management (CZM) programs as they increase community resilience to climate change and extreme weather.

Those attending included U.S. Representative Chellie Pingree, staff from the offices of U.S. Senators Angus King and Susan Collins and Representative Jared Golden; Hannah Pingree of the Maine Governor’s Office of Policy Innovation and the Future; Chief Bassett and Ralph Dana of the Passamaquoddy Tribe, Pleasant Point; White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Director Arati Prabhakar; and representatives of the Wells Reserve, the Maine Coastal Program, and the Town of Scarborough.

Together, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) and Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) are investing more than $50 billion in climate resilience and adaptation. The BIL/IRA funding announced today will allow NOAA to build on the important work done by states and territories to protect and manage the natural infrastructure that is the best defense against the impacts of climate change. This is the second investment in Reserves and CZM Programs through BIL/IRA since 2023, when NOAA awarded $77 million to fund 20 projects for communities served by both programs and capacity building throughout both national networks.

“The Commerce Department and the entire Biden-Harris Administration are committed to ensuring coastal communities across the country have the resources they need to combat climate change,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. “Through this investment, made possible thanks to President Biden’s commitment to investing in America, we will be able to protect critical resources for coastal habitat restoration, create new jobs, and boost resilience to extreme weather events across our coastal communities.”  

In the Reserve System, $15 million will support eight projects focused on land conservation, habitat restoration, and capacity-building at all 30 sites. Coastal Programs will receive $59.8 million for coastal infrastructure projects and capacity-building. The Reserve and CZM program funding includes $38 million for projects conducted in partnership with, or directly by, Tribes and Native Hawaiians. These grants also will leverage $48 million in non-competitive funding to 34 CZM programs and 30 Reserves for essential planning, policy development and implementation, collaborative engagement, and strategies to help increase the resilience of coastal communities and their economies.

“These transformational projects will not only bolster community resilience, but also ensure that innovations are fairly and broadly accessible,” said Jainey K. Bavishi, assistant secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and deputy NOAA administrator. “This significant increase in resources from NOAA will be essential in helping to build local infrastructure that is climate resilient, while providing essential benefits to businesses.”

States and territories have partnered with the federal government through the Coastal Zone Management Act to manage and enhance natural resources in the U.S. Coastal Zone for more than 50 years. However, in the past two decades, federal investment in coastal economies and infrastructure has stagnated, even as challenges faced by coastal communities have escalated.

“With weather events becoming more extreme, the timing of these investments is critical,” says Rebecca Roth, executive director of the National Estuarine Research Reserve Association (NERRA).“As programs that are responsive to the needs of their communities, Reserves will put this funding to work where and how communities need it most. And when these projects are complete, Reserves will be there to provide the ongoing stewardship needed to protect these investments for future generations.” 

Reserve projects recommended for funding in 2024 include the following; to explore all Reserve projects supported by BIL, visit the NERRA website

  • Maine/Wells Reserve: Habitat Restoration and Protection to Enhance Salt Marsh Resilience to Sea Level Rise, $2,879,117 This project will acquire a conservation easement for 9.5 acres of salt marsh and 8.5 acres of freshwater wetlands and uplands and restore the marsh’s tidal hydrology. The Town of Wells and the Wells Reserve will partner to restore the protected marsh by replacing a failing, undersized roadway crossing. The new bridge will be more resilient to extreme storms, improve safety for motorists and pedestrians, and allow for tidal marshes to migrate as sea levels rise.
  • Wisconsin/Lake Superior Reserve: Habitat Restoration Planning, Engineering, and Design, $348,860 This project will create a community-informed plan to restore 10.9 acres of regained Ojibwe homelands on Lake Superior’s Gibiskising Minis to their inherent ecological and cultural nature. Input from tribal and non-tribal land managers, archaeologists, and local and tribal governments, tribal members, will inform an actionable restoration and monitoring plan that accounts for the significance of this place. The completed design will be used to pursue funding to restore sand dunes, pine forests, medicinal plants, and cultural relationships.
  • Texas/Mission-Aransas Reserve: Protection and Restoration of Ayres Point Oyster Reefs, $2,064,726 This project will restore 11.5 acres of oyster reef along Ayres Point in  Mesquite Bay, which  provides shoreline and marsh habitat protection and supports a broad diversity of species. The restored  reef will be  in an area closed to commercial harvest, thereby facilitating recruitment and growth of oysters. The restored oyster reef will create a complex habitat for numerous recreationally and commercially important fish and invertebrates.
  • Alabama/Weeks Bay Reserve: Shoreline Restoration to Enhance Coastal Resilience in Weeks Bay $3,541,936 This project will remove a degraded bulkhead, restore an emergent marsh shoreline, and promote shoreline stewardship at the East Gateway Tract within the Weeks Bay Reserve. It will involve planning, engineering, design, construction, and monitoring activities. It will also serve as a demonstration site for education, outreach, professional training, and student-based coastal resilience workforce development.
  • Hawai’i/He’eia Reserve: Ola i ka Loʻi Wai (Life through Indigenous Knowledge), $3,400,000 This project is based on Indigenous knowledge (Native Hawaiian) relating to the management of wetlands and estuaries. The project’s goal is to restore 40 acres within the Reserve, using Indigenous knowledge relating to wetland agroecology (loʻi wai) as a means to increase community resilience in regard to climate change, food security, and economic stability.
  • South Carolina/North Inlet-Winyah Bay Reserve: Mingo Creek Tract for Black River State Park, $1,500,000 This project will allow conservation partners to acquire 675 acres of ecologically significant habitat within the Winyah Bay estuary. The Mingo Tract, which spans 4.5 miles of Mingo Creek to its confluence with the Black River at the edge of the North Inlet Winyah Bay Reserve’s target watershed, will be conserved in perpetuity. The protected properties along the Black River are intended for passive recreation that is compatible with habitat protection.
  • South Carolina/ACE Basin Reserve: South Fenwick Island Parcel Additions to the ACE Basin Reserve, $657,000 This project will allow conservation partners to acquire 675 acres of ecologically significant habitat within the Winyah Bay estuary. The Mingo Tract, which spans 4.5 miles of Mingo Creek to its confluence with the Black River at the edge of the North Inlet Winyah Bay Reserve’s target watershed, will be conserved in perpetuity. The protected properties along the Black River are intended for passive recreation that is compatible with habitat protection.
  • Washington/Padilla Bay Reserve: Coastal Prairie Restoration, $623,315
    The Padilla Bay Reserve will transition 15 acres of old pastures from a grassland dominated by non-native species to native coastal oak prairie habitat that will be protected long-term as part of the Reserve. This will be achieved by co-managing with local tribes (the Samish Indian Nation and the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community) and integrating modern methods with traditional knowledge. The intended benefits include increased biodiversity, habitat resilience, public awareness and access, tribal access to rare and culturally important species, and promotion of traditional ecological knowledge
    .

You can browse the CZM program projects funded through BIL/IRA in 2024 on NOAA’s website.

These investments will complement and leverage other opportunities for habitat conservation and restoration, including funding through NOAA’s Community-Based Restoration Program and the National Ocean and Coastal Security Fund. The restoration and conservation of ecologically significant ecosystems, will help reduce the impacts of coastal hazards—including flooding and climate change—to property and infrastructure, and at the same time provide economic benefits to coastal communities. 

Visit NOAA’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act websites to learn about current and future funding opportunities.

Coastal resilience champions tour the marsh to be restored in Scarborough.

Jainey Bavishi, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and NOAA Deputy Administrator.

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BILNOAA Recommends $123 Million for Coastal Resilience