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Coffee Island in Mobile gets award of $14.6M from NOAA for shoreline implementation by the Nature Conservancy

Posted on April 26, 2023

More than $27 million has been awarded to the Nature Conservancy in Alabama for habitat restoration and coastal resilience funding from NOAA.

The Nature Conservancy is the in-state operations of the global TNC organization supporting Alabama-specific conservation efforts through sustainable management, restoration and landscape protection.

Funding will be split between two coastal Alabama projects, with $14.6 million going toward Coffee Island restoration in Mobile County and more than $12.8 million to the Perdido Watershed Initiative in Baldwin County and the adjoining Escambia County, Fla.

These two projects are among a total of 38 across the U.S. for $265 million supported by this grant funding, which is supported by the Biden-Harris Administration’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law with funding leveraged from the Inflation Reduction Act.

“This is a huge win for Alabama and those who poured their collective hard work into aligning these two projects to meet NOAA’s goals,” TNC in Alabama State Director Mitch Reid said. “We look forward to getting both initiatives off the ground and thank everyone at NOAA for seeing the impact these bring to Alabama’s ecosystem.”

 “The magnitude of the amount of NOAA grant funds coming to Alabama is impressive, and we are proud of TNC and all Coffee Island and Perdido Watershed partners for their collaboration and shared vision in bringing such huge wins to our state,” Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) Chris Blankenship said.

The Perdido Watershed Initiative is a four-year, large-scale, multi-site project aimed at enhancing both ecosystem and community resilience in the Perdido watershed in both Alabama and Florida through the integrated planning, implementation and monitoring of multiple innovative restoration approaches and techniques. The initiative will specifically target six objectives, including:

  • Completing a shoreline habitat vulnerability assessment
  • Updating and synchronizing a Living shoreline suitability model (LSSM)
  • Enhancing community capacity to integrate nature-based solutions (NBS) through the development of a portfolio of NBS projects
  • Completing restoration designs for the City of Orange Beach’s Waterfront Park living shoreline, Gilchrist Island, Robinson Island, Walker Island, Lillian Swamp, and Bronson Field Living Shoreline and Hydrologic Restoration
  • Implementing the living shoreline cost share program, the City’s Waterfront Park Living Shoreline, Robinson Island Restoration, and the Rainwater Preserve Stewardship and Hydrologic Restoration

For Baldwin County’s Perdido Watershed Initiative, the Pensacola and Perdido Bays Estuary Program, the City of Orange Beach and Mayor Tony Kennon, as well as Coastal Resources Director Phillip West, the Dauphin Island Sea Lab, Mississippi State University, Troy University, and Moffat and Nichol — alongside ADCNR, USA and TNC in Alabama — partnered to bring the grant application and project outline to fruition.

The Coffee Island Restoration project will implement a 5,000-foot living shoreline breakwater to help create and enhance habitat, as well as to protect the southeast shoreline of the Mississippi Sound island. Volkert has been tapped to provide environmental construction services, while the University of South Alabama (USA) will monitor progress. The project will kick-off in July 2023 and extend throughout the next four years.

In addition to ADCNR, Volkert and USA, the City of Bayou la Batre and Mayor Henry Barnes partnered with TNC in Alabama for the Coffee Island Restoration project.

“It truly takes a village to enact change and to create better outcomes for the people and places in Alabama that matter to us all,” TNC in Alabama Marine Programs Director Judy Haner said. “The depth and breadth of these two projects and the seamless collaboration of our partners is what made the difference in how our initiatives here in Alabama stood out among NOAA’s almost $1.1 billion in total grant requests.”

For more information on The Nature Conservancy in Alabama and how to support its projects, please visit its website.


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