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Restoration and Coastal Resiliency on the Atlantic Coast

As part of the Obama Administration’s commitment in the Climate Action Plan to make coastal communities more resilient against future storms, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced on June 16, $102.7 million in competitive matching grants to support 54 projects along the Atlantic coast. The grants will fund science-based solutions to restore wetlands and other natural areas and better manage stormwater to protect for major storms.

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), which is administering the Hurricane Sandy Coastal Resiliency Competitive Grant Program, helped guide the Department of Interior and the process in selecting the winning projects, among 375 proposals submitted since October 2013.

Executive Director and CEO of NFWF said the grants leveraged the initial investment from the Department of Interior, then added millions of dollars of additional funding and in-kind contributions from other partners.

The Dept. of Interior’s commitment of $100 million was matched with $2.7 million in funding from the U.S. Attorney General’s offices in New Jersey and Delaware, as well as donations from Bank of America and Wells Fargo. The $102.7 million grant commitment was further leveraged by $72 million in grantee partner match, making the entire conservation impact of the grant program more than $175 million.

The majority of the projects are in areas severely damaged by Hurricane Sandy, including 24 projects in New York and New Jersey receiving nearly $50 million.

The projects will restore an estimated 6,634 acres of wetlands and marshes, 225 acres of beach, 364 acres of riparian buffers, and 16 miles of streams.

The competitive grants are part of the $787 million the Department of the Interior received in supplemental appropriations for recovery and resiliency in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. This includes $176 million in internal funds allocated to resiliency projects including projects to restore coastal marshes, wetlands and shoreline, create habitat connectivity, improve flood resilience and undertake other efforts to protect nearby areas from future storms.

Dredging Projects

The projects include reusing dredged rock to protect the Boston Harbor Shoreline in Massachusetts, with a $240,000 grant to the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, including $160,000 in matching funds. The project will reuse one million cubic yards of rock to create a protected Boston Harbor shoreline. The repurposed dredged rock will reduce wave energy and protect transplanted eelgrass.

Another project in New Jersey will reuse dredged material to restore salt marshes and protect communities, with a $3,420,000 grant to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Office of Natural Resource Restoration, with a $4,782,320 in matching funds. The dredged material will restore 90 acres of salt marshes for Avalon, Stone Harbor and Fortescue in New Jersey. The enhanced salt marshes will provide wildlife habitat and reduce flooding and erosion impacts.

In Rhode Island, dredged material will enhance the Ninigret National Wildlife Refuge, with a $3,250,000 grant to the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council, with $423,650 in matching funds. The project will restore 30 acres of salt marsh and create two additional marsh restoration designs.

All 54 projects include many efforts to strengthen the coastline from restoring wetlands and salt marshes, green infrastructure, repairing fish passes and opening fish barriers, flood and storm resiliency management plans, and coastal restoration projects.

Other beach restoration projects include work at the Mispillion Harbor Reserve and Milford Neck Conservation Area and the Central Delaware Bayshore in Delaware, and Monmouth Beach marshes and dunes in New Jersey.

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