FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Gordon Helm
Grants totaling $150,000 for 10 new restoration projects to improve fish habitat were announced today as part of a continuing partnership between the American Sportfishing Association's FishAmerica Foundation and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Marine Fisheries Service.
"Today's grant recipients will address major threats to the health of our fish populations such as habitat degradation, wetland destruction and blockages to migration," said Jim Hubbard, senior vice president of Mercury Marine and chair of the FishAmerica Foundation Conservation Projects Committee. "We know volunteers are not afraid of hard work and getting out in the mud, which is why FishAmerica is so delighted to 'help them help themselves' - the true essence of the FishAmerica concept."
Last October, ASA's FishAmerica Foundation signed an agreement with NOAA Fisheries' Restoration Center that will provide up to $700,000 for locally driven habitat restoration projects over three years on a 50-50 basis. Partnerships are a key element in assisting community efforts to accomplish significant, on-the-ground habitat restoration. Including today's awards, 18 projects located throughout the coastal United States have received funding totaling $250,000.
"This partnership is putting critical funding directly where it's needed most--in local priorities," said Penny Dalton, NOAA Fisheries director. "Our partnership with the FishAmerica Foundation allows us to more effectively preserve our fisheries heritage. It demonstrates how communities and national organizations can work together to restore marine resources," she said.
The Community-Based Restoration Program, which jointly determines which projects to fund with FishAmerica, provides a starting point for citizens to address habitat concerns in their own back yards by providing seed money and technical assistance. Experts from NOAA Fisheries routinely restore fish habitat and other natural resources that have been injured by human or natural actions, advancing the science of coastal habitat restoration and transferring that technological expertise to the public.
"It's important to remember the actual value of each project is many times the amount of federal dollars invested," said Dalton. "Funding we provide leverages significant national and local monies along with services and volunteer labor to get the projects done. We hope to be able to expand the assistance given to communities for habitat restoration in FY 2000 if increased funds are made available through the Fisheries Habitat Restoration Initiative in the President's budget," she said.
Grants were given to support the following ten projects:
FishAmerica's $75,000 contribution was generated from ASA membership. In addition, CITGO Petroleum of Tulsa, Oklahoma, supplemented the Florida project, and Northeast Tackle and Gun Reps helped fund the projects in Connecticut and New York. NOAA's $75,000 contribution is from NOAA Fisheries' Community-based Restoration Program.
The American Sportfishing Association is a non-profit trade association working to ensure healthy and sustainable fisheries resources and increase sportfishing participation through education, conservation, promotion and marketing. The FishAmerica Foundation, the conservation arm of ASA, was created by Zebco Corporation in 1983 to help industry and citizens enhance fisheries resources. Foundation volunteers have donated more than one million hours of their time for grassroots efforts to improve water quality and fish populations all over North America.
NOTE TO EDITORS: More information on these projects is available on the Web at: http://www.nmfs.gov/habitat/restoration