NOAA 2000-043
Contact: Kate McNaughten


In an event on Capitol Hill today, Members of Congress, NOAA officials, representatives of the Pew Charitable Trusts and a national environmental organization known as Restore America's Estuaries announced a new public-private partnership to restore the nation's most productive ecosystems - its estuaries. Estuaries are the bays and sounds where rivers meet salt water, creating ideal conditions for fish, shellfish and other wildlife.

At the event, NOAA and Pew officials committed $1.1 million for on-the-ground habitat restoration projects in 11 project areas including the Gulf of Maine, Chesapeake Bay, Long Island Sound, Narragansett Bay, Hudson-Raritan Estuary, Albermarle and Pamlico sounds, Louisiana's Mississippi Delta, Galveston Bay, San Francisco Bay, Puget Sound and Tampa Bay.

"One of the greatest threats to productive fisheries is the loss of valuable marine and estuarine habitats. Through this new partnership, our Community-Based Restoration Program will be able to match its funds and technical expertise with grass-roots organizations to restore important habitat and foster long-term environmental stewardship among citizens," said National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrator D. James Baker.

According to Restore America's Estuaries members, the funds will be used to launch an array of on-the-ground restoration projects including installation fishways, salt marsh restoration, oyster reef restoration, installation of new tide gates, the creation of salmon habitat, a pilot volunteer stewardship and monitoring program, native plant propagation and planting, exotic plant removal, bulkhead removal, marsh creation, re-vegetation and reconstruction of barrier islands, streamside forest buffers, shoreline restoration, creek clean-ups, informational signage, water quality monitoring and more.

"This partnership between Restore America's Estuaries and NOAA is a perfect match," said Kathy Fletcher, chair of Restore America's Estuaries and the executive director of People for Puget Sound. "NOAA's funding and expertise will be put to effective use by our 11 member organizations, who are all strong, energetic groups with proven track records in habitat restoration at the community level. Best of all, the health of the nation's estuaries will be measurably improved as a direct result of the partnership."

Half of the funding for the partnership came from the Philadelphia-based Pew Charitable Trusts. The Trusts' environmental program promotes policies and practices that protect the global atmosphere and preserve healthy forest and marine ecosystems.

"The Pew Charitable Trusts is delighted that NOAA's Restoration Center and the National Marine Fisheries Service recognize and value the efforts of conservation groups participating in Restore America's Estuaries," said Sarah Clark Stuart, program officer of the Pew Charitable Trusts. "Bringing back healthy estuarine habitats through restoration is critical to ensuring that future generations of Americans can enjoy the many benefits that estuaries provide."

NOAA provided $550,000 in federal support for the partnership effort through its Community-Based Restoration Program. The program, which is part of NOAA's Fishery Service, has been working with community organizations and several members of Restore America's Estuaries to support effective habitat restoration projects in marine, estuarine and riparian areas since 1996.

"With this strategic alliance we embark together on the important journey to restore the health of our estuaries, the nation's coastal sanctuaries where we live intertwined with the natural world," said Restore America's Estuaries President Mark Wolf-Armstrong.

Founded in 1995, Restore America's Estuaries is a national leader in efforts to protect, conserve and restore estuaries. The organization is currently leading a national campaign to restore one million acres of the nation's estuaries by the year 2010. Members include 11 of the nation's top coastal community-based environmental organizations-Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Conservation Law Foundation, Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, Galveston Bay Foundation, North Carolina Coastal Federation, People for Puget Sound, Save The Bay (Narragansett), Save San Francisco Bay, Save The Sound (Long Island Sound), Tampa BayWatch and the American Littoral Society. These organizations represent a combined membership of over 250,000 citizens.