Creek project gets $1M fed grant
A 260-acre plot of coastal marsh at the mouth of Sonoma Creek will be the focus of a $1 million grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
One of four such projects in California to receive the 2013 National Coastal Wetlands Grants, the Sonoma Creek project will be aimed at restoring natural water recirculation and ecological restoration to an area that has been degraded by manmade changes to the North Bay marshland, including levees and creation of the Highway 37 viaduct.
All four projects will help protect, restore and conserve acres of important wetland and adjacent upland habitats along California’s coast. They are among 24 projects nationwide that will receive funding through the program.
Service Director Dan Ashe announced $20 million in grants to the 24 critical coastal wetland projects in 13 states and territories, all designed to conserve and restore coastal wetlands and their fish and wildlife habitat. An additional $21.3 million in matching funds will be provided by partner contributions from state and local governments, private landowners and conservation groups.
Addressing the grant program, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, said, “When President Obama unveiled his America’s Great Outdoors initiative three years ago, our goal was to work with communities across the country to create a 21st century conservation ethic. Our coastal grants program is a model of this kind of partnership, conserving vital wetlands hand-in-hand with partners from Maine to the Pacific Northwest to as far away as American Samoa in the South Pacific.”
Coastal areas comprise less than 10 percent of the nation’s land area yet support a significant number of wildlife species, including 75 percent of migratory birds, nearly 80 percent of fish and shellfish and about half of all threatened and endangered species.
Besides the local Sonoma Creek Enhancement Project, other $1 million grants were awarded to:
• The California State Coastal Conservancy for the Ryan Creek Wetlands Conservation Project to protect 192 acres of valuable coastal wetlands and associated upland habitat adjacent to Humboldt Bay in Humboldt County.
• The Steam Shovel Slough Coastal Wetlands Acquisition Project, a 62.8-acre parcel that is part of the 500-acre Los Cerritos Wetlands Complex near the mouth of San Gabriel River in the city of Long Beach.
• Phase three of the Upper Devereux Slough Restoration Project, to restore 25 acres of estuarine, palustrine and transitional habitat upstream from lower Devereux Slough in Santa Barbara County.
The National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant Program is administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and funded under provisions of the 1990 Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection and Restoration Act. Funding is provided by Sport Fish Restoration Act revenue – money generated from an excise tax on fishing equipment, motorboat and small engine fuels.
The Service has awarded about $320 million to coastal states and territories, and 298,000 acres of habitat will have been protected, restored or enhanced.