USFWS National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant Program

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant Program annually provides grants of up to $1 million to coastal and Great Lakes states, as well as U.S. territories to protect, restore and enhance coastal wetland ecosystems and associated uplands, providing long-term conservation benefits to fish and wildlife and their habitats. Over $17 million in total will be awarded by the USFWS to 20 projects in 10 coastal states to protect, restore or enhance more than 13,000 acres of coastal wetlands and adjacent upland habitats under the program. The grants are funded through the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund, which is supported by excise taxes on fishing equipment and motorboat fuel. 

This resource was featured in the May 4, 2017, ASAP Newsletter.

"The National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant Program annually provides grants of up to $1 million to coastal and Great Lakes states, as well as U.S. territories, to protect, restore and enhance coastal wetland ecosystems and associated uplands. The grants are funded through the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund, which is supported by excise taxes on fishing equipment and motorboat fuel."

Purpose: Coastal wetlands must be protected as they play a significant role in reducing flooding from storm surge and in stabilizing shorelines under sea-level rise. According to USFWS, “Coastal wetlands are under siege from both increased development and sea-level rise - and coastal wetland habitat conservation is critical to ensure that coastal communities continue and wildlife communities are stable." Conservation of coastal wetlands also enhance flood protection and water quality and provide economic benefits and recreational opportunities for anglers, boaters, hunters and wildlife watchers. USFWS reports that wetlands in coastal watersheds are lost at an average annual rate of 80,000 acres.

Eligible Uses: The Coastal Program provides direct technical assistance and financial assistance in the form of cooperative agreements to coastal communities and landowners to restore and protect fish and wildlife habitat on public and private lands. Project work plans are developed in coordination with partners, and with substantial involvement from USFWS field staff.

The funding announcement demonstrates a preference for projects that benefit species/habitats in light of the expected effects of climate change. The majority of grantees have acquired, restored, and protected coastal wetlands - with a focus on areas that harbor sensitive or endangered fish, wildlife and habitat. The application focuses on Wetland, Upland, Stream/shoreline, and Riparian habitat that has been restored or enhanced; Fish passage barriers removed; Wetland or Stream/shoreline re-opened to fish passage; Outreach and education activities; and/or Habitat assessments. 

States having received grant funding already include California, Georgia, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Maine, North Carolina, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin.

Potential Adaptation Uses: Coastal wetlands make communities more resilient by providing flood control, storm surge buffers, erosion control, water quality improvements, and wildlife habitat.

The ability of coastal wetland fish, wildlife, and plant species to adapt to climate change is contingent on available, healthy and conserved habitat. Protection, restoration, and conservation of wetlands not only supports the continued viability of sensitive species and biodiverse habitat but also provides a natural effective buffer for sea level rise and flooding. Wetlands provide further resiliency through stabilizing the shoreline, storm surge protection, and pollutant buffering to improve water quality.   

Eligible Grantees: Eligible applicants include County governments, Nonprofits having a 501(c)(3) status with the IRS, Special district governments, Private institutions of higher education, City or township governments, Native American tribal governments and organizations, State governments, For-profit organizations, Public and State controlled institutions of higher education, Individuals and Small businesses. 

Process and Requirements: 

- State applicants must submit applications through www.grants.gov.

- The period of performance for the majority of projects funded under this program is one year, starting on the date the award is signed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

- Past and present recipients of awards under this program are eligible but must submit new projects to compete for funding each year.

 

Examples of some of Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant Program funded projects are:

Grays Harbor, Washington: The Washington State Department of Ecology, partnering with Ducks Unlimited, was awarded $1 million to acquire 1,750 acres of diverse and threatened habitats, including wetlands in Grays Harbor County, and is located within close proximity to protected areas, including Grays Harbor National Wildlife Refuge. Multiple fish and bird species that use watershed along with elk, deer, black bear and river otters will benefit from the protection.

Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts: The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, in partnership with the Buzzards Bay Coalition and the Dartmouth Natural Resources Trust, was awarded $1 million to help protect 72.40 acres of coastal saltmarsh and adjacent uplands along the shoreline of the Allens Pond Estuary on Buzzards Bay in Dartmouth, Massachusetts. Allens Pond is an especially high-quality coastal embayment with high water and sediment quality, extensive eelgrass beds and excellent living resources that include shellfish, fin fish, and coast-dependent birds.

Lower Altamaha River watershed, Georgia: The Georgia Department of Natural Resources (GA DNR) was awarded $1 million to acquire and protect approximately 2,091 acres of diverse habitat known as Sansavilla Phase 4. This tract is part of a long-term initiative by GA DNR, The Conservation Fund, The Nature Conservancy and the U.S. Marine Corps, to conserve priority habitats in the lower Altamaha River watershed. More than 100 rare plants and animals occur within the tidal wetlands and adjacent uplands; of these 15 are federally listed as threatened or endangered, and 17 are state listed and are considered globally rare or imperiled.

 

Publication Date: January 5, 2017

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