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Feds request more than half a billion dollars for coastal restoration in 30 states

The bridge leading from Fort Myers to Pine Island, Fla., is seen heavily damaged in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian on Pine Island, Fla., Oct. 1, 2022. Changes in air patterns as the world warms will likely push more and nastier hurricanes up against the United States’ east and Gulf coasts, especially in Florida, a new study said.

Posted on April 26, 2023

The federal government is asking for more than half a billion dollars for dozens of projects aimed at bolstering America’s coastlines against rising seas.

The 149 projects range from shoreline habitat recovery in Florida, restoration of salmon streams in Alaska, and experimental microplastic filters for New York.

With a total price tag of $562 million, most seek to leverage the power of natural solutions — in particular coastal wetlands, estuaries and forests — to protect communities and wildlands from the rising risk of extreme weather and coastal erosion.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, as the primary administrator of that funding, now has to review the proposals and make its own final funding decisions, an agency spokesperson told The Hill.

“The Biden-Harris Administration is moving aggressively to tackle the climate crisis and help communities that are experiencing increased flooding, storm surge and more frequent extreme weather events,” Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo said in a statement.

These grants were paid for under the 2021 bipartisan infrastructure law and the clean energy stimulus passed last year by congressional Democrats.

About 85 percent of the funds will go to specific coastal recreation projects.

One large bloc of projects will focus on removing marine debris — from abandoned fishing gear to sunken ships to microplastics in the water column — from the Gulf Coast, Atlantic and Pacific Northwest.

Others seek to rebuild coastal habitats — like oyster shoals in the Gulf of Mexico, Puerto Rico’s coral reefs and living shorelines on the Atlantic seaboard — that both provide shelter for commercial fish and break the fury of storms.

About 8 percent of the remainder ($46 million) goes to the Fish and Wildlife Service to be used for habitat restoration, and another 7 percent ($39.1 million) will fund research for the dozens of state and federal reserves that work with the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration.

“These grants will ensure that coastal communities across the United States will have the tools and resources to withstand the effects of climate change,” Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), chair of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, said in a statement.


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