NOAA 2001-R115
Contact: Gordon Helm

Partnership Will Provide $400,000 in Grassroots Restoration to Fisheries Habitat

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Marine Fisheries Service and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation are announcing a new Chesapeake Bay community-based restoration partnership that will provide more than $400,000 to support grassroots efforts to restore critical wetlands and streams and important fisheries habitat throughout the Bay.

The first grant of $50,000 under the partnership will be awarded by the Foundation to the National Aquarium in Baltimore, which is restoring the Barren Island wetlands. The new partnership was announced during a tour of an 11-acre wetland restoration effort on Barren Island, an off-shore island in the Chesapeake Bay. Barren Island is eroding at a dramatic rate, threatening to destroy wetlands and valuable Bay grass habitat that the island now protects. The tour highlighted innovative restoration and shoreline stabilization techniques. It also capped off week-long restoration activities on the site hosted by the National Aquarium.

"This is a perfect opportunity to announce the new partnership between NOAA's Community-Based Restoration Program and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and its emphasis on the Bay. I've participated in a number of NOAA community-based habitat restoration projects in the Bay, and I am excited to learn about some of the latest techniques used on Barren Island to restore wetlands," said Scott Gudes, NOAA's acting administrator. Gudes added, "NOAA is able to make this announcement because of Congress' support for community-based restoration, in particular by members of the Chesapeake Bay region."

Under this new partnership, the Foundation will support local community projects to improve the Chesapeake Bay's important fish and shellfish habitats which will be co-funded by the NOAA Community-Based Restoration Program and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency through the Chesapeake Bay Program.

John Berry, the Foundation's executive director said, "We are very excited to continue our relationship with the NOAA Community-Based Restoration Program and with the aquarium. To that end, I am very pleased to announce that through this three-year community-based restoration partnership, we will be awarding the aquarium $50,000 to continue their restoration efforts on Barren Island."

"Having the public participate in a hands-on restoration activity further connects people to the Chesapeake Bay – making a better world for both. Learning that we'll be receiving additional funds to continue our restoration work is a perfect finale for an already wonderful week's worth of work," said Glenn Page, director of conservation at the aquarium. "Project funds will be used to improve restoration and shoreline stabilization techniques here which will have great application for other off-shore islands like Barren Island."

The restoration work done on Barren Island has involved a cadre of volunteers, organized by the aquarium. They have assisted in planting salt marsh vegetation on the dredged material carefully placed to build up restored parts of the island.

The Small Watershed Grants Program provides grants of up to $50,000 on a competitive basis to support the work of local governments, conservation organizations and citizens groups to protect and improve their local watersheds. Major funding for this program is provided by the EPA through the Chesapeake Bay Program. Additional funding for coastal habitat restoration in the Bay is being made available as part of a new, three-year national partnership between NOAA's Community-Based Restoration Program and the Foundation.

"The Chesapeake Bay Small Watershed Grants Program is a model for building partnerships at the local level to do work that results in real on-the-ground environmental benefits", said Diana Esher, EPA Chesapeake Bay Program Office acting director. "This project epitomizes restoring the Bay through grassroots partnerships."

Under the NOAA Community-Based Restoration Program, funds are distributed to local communities to restore estuarine and marine habitats that benefit our nation's fisheries. In addition to funding, NOAA fisheries provides technical assistance in support of project development and implementation.

The Chesapeake Bay is the nation's largest estuary and home to blue crabs, oysters, striped bass and a myriad of other marine species. Habitat restoration projects like the one at Barren Island are important to the future of coastal fisheries and the overall health of the Chesapeake Bay.

The NOAA Restoration Center, housed within NOAA fisheries, is home to the Community-Based Restoration Program. Partnerships with federal agencies, states, local governments, non-governmental and non-profit organizations, businesses, industry and schools have helped hundreds of local efforts restore coastal habitat. More information on the NOAA Restoration Center can be viewed at:

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation is a private, non-profit organization established by Congress in 1984. The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation's mission is to conserve healthy populations of fish, wildlife and plants, on land and in the sea, through creative and respectful partnerships, sustainable solutions, and better education. The Foundation meets these goals by awarding challenge grants to projects benefitting conservation education, habitat protection and restoration, and natural resource management. More information on the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation can be viewed at:

The Chesapeake Bay Program is restoring the Bay watershed through a partnership among the District of Columbia, the state of Maryland, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the Commonwealth of Virginia, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency representing the federal government, the Chesapeake Bay Commission, and participating citizen advisory groups.

Further information can be obtained on the Bay Program's Web site: