NOAA 2001-021
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Gordon Helm
2/9/01

COMMERCE DEPT. ANNOUNCES $8 MILLION FOR HABITAT PROJECTS, CALLS FOR NEW NATIONAL AND REGIONAL RESTORATION PARTNERS

NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service is seeking new partnerships under its Community-Based Restoration Program to utilize $8 million for habitat restoration in 2001, the Department of Commerce announced today.

Every year since 1996, NOAA Fisheries has been working to maximize the impact of its Community-Based Restoration Program by seeking new partnerships with communities throughout the United States. Today's call for community participation seeks national and regional organizations interested in partnering with the NOAA Fisheries Restoration Center to restore marine, estuarine and anadromous fish habitat. Officials estimate that up to $35 million in support for restoration activities will be realized from the $8 million in federal funds, thanks to in-kind services and other cooperative funding that communities bring to the table with their projects.

"I have participated in several grass roots community-based restoration projects around the nation and I can personally attest that they work," said NOAA's Acting Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere Scott Gudes. "This year, with the strong support of Congress, we have an additional $6 million in federal funds to add to the $2 million we had planned for restoration activities."

NOAA wants to develop national and regional partnerships that will accomplish on-the-ground, community-based restoration of marine, coastal and freshwater habitats to benefit living marine resources, including fish stocks managed by NOAA and the trophic systems that support them.

"Public-private partnerships are essential to our mission, and the organizations and communities that get behind them are some of our most important allies in restoring and preserving marine habitats," said Acting NOAA Fisheries Director Bill Hogarth. "They will help us achieve meaningful habitat restoration, increase public awareness of the value of habitat to the environment and economy, foster a sense of community stewardship and pride for marine resources, and significantly leverage federal funds."

Coastal and marine resources that benefit from the program include commercial and recreational fishery species, anadromous fish such as salmon and striped bass that spawn in freshwater and then migrate to the sea, endangered and threatened species, marine mammals and turtles, and habitats such as marshes, mangroves, seagrass beds, coral reefs, and other coastal habitats that support these organisms.

The NOAA Community-Based Restoration Program provides financial assistance and technical expertise to address important fishery habitat damage or loss across coastal America by means of a grass-roots, bottom up approach. Projects are successful because they have significant local support, including citizens' hands-on involvement in the implementation of restoration activities. Staff from the NOAA Restoration Center, NOAA Fisheries Science Centers and regional staff work closely with communities to aid in project development and implementation. Projects are monitored and maintained by communities, promoting stewardship and a heightened appreciation for the environment and its long-term health.

Organizations interested in partnering with NOAA Fisheries as part of the Community-Based Restoration Program should contact the NOAA Restoration Center at (301) 713-0174. Complete information, including a partnership application, is available online at: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/habitat/restoration/community/feb9