Commerce Secretary Gary Locke Announces $167 Million in Recovery Act Funding for 50 Coastal Restoration Projects

June 30, 2009

Eyak Lake staking.

Staking Eyak Lake.

High resolution (Credit: NOAA)

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke announced today 50 habitat restoration projects that will restore damaged wetlands, shellfish beds, coral reefs and reopen fish passages that boost the health and resiliency of our nation’s coastal and Great Lakes communities. Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration was provided $167 million for marine and coastal habitat restoration.

"These Recovery Act projects will put Americans to work while restoring our coasts and combating climate change,” Locke said. “They reflect our investment in sound science and commitment to help strengthen local economies.”

Healthy coastal habitats are critical to the recovery and sustainability of the U.S. economy. Coastal areas generate more than 28 million jobs in the United States. Commercial and recreational fishing employs 1.5 million people and contributes $111 billion to the nation’s economy.

“NOAA is investing in green jobs for Americans to restore habitat for valuable fish and wildlife and strengthen coastal communities, making them more resilient to storms, sea-level rise and other effects of climate change,” Commerce under secretary of oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator Jane Lubchenco said. “In addition to the immediate jobs created by the projects, stronger and healthier coastal communities will boost our nation’s long-term economic health.”

Merrimack dam removal.

Merrimack dam removal.

High resolution (Credit: NOAA)

A significant number of these coastal and Great Lakes restoration projects — in 22 states and two territories — are in areas with some of the highest unemployment rates, including the states of California, Oregon, and Michigan. The projects will employ Americans with a range of skills including laborers, nursery workers, design engineers, restoration ecologists, landscape architects, hydrologists, and specialized botanists.

In addition to direct jobs, the projects are estimated to create indirect jobs in industries that supply materials and administrative, clerical, and managerial services.

When complete, the projects will have restored more than 8,900 acres of habitat and removed obsolete and unsafe dams that open more than 700 stream miles where fish migrate and spawn. The projects also will remove more than 850 metric tons of debris, rebuild oyster and other shellfish habitat, and reduce threats to 11,750 acres of coral reefs.

Reflodding a salt marsh.

Reflooding a salt marsh.

High resolution (Credit: NOAA)

The 50 projects were chosen from a pool of 814 proposals totaling more than $3 billion in requests. The agency worked through a rigorous selection process to identify and prioritize projects meeting the Recovery Act’s criteria.

More than 200 technical reviewers from across NOAA worked in groups to review all the applications and the top 109 were chosen for panel review. Proposals were ranked by overall quality and with consideration given to program priority areas and geography. The determining criteria were that projects meet NOAA’s highest priority mission needs for ecological restoration, be “shovel ready” and generate the largest number of jobs in the shortest period of time, and create lasting value for the American public.

For further information on funded projects nationwide, go to the NOAA Recovery Act Web site. The public will be able to follow the progress of each project on the recovery Web site, which will include an interactive online map that enables the public to track where and how NOAA recovery funds are spent.

The 50 projects that will receive funding are:



Great Lakes



Pacific Islands

NOAA understands and predicts changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and conserves and manages our coastal and marine resources.