By Lise Alves, Contributing Reporter
MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA – The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced it is teaming up with other public agencies as well as private entities to provide $30 million in new grants to support coastal resilience projects in 23 states and U.S. territories.
“This partnership will help harness the power of natural landscapes to protect our communities and provide long-term prosperity for the millions of Americans who live, work and play there” said Neil Jacobs, Ph.D., acting NOAA administrator in the agency’s website.
“The Blue Economy drives our nation’s prosperity and growth, and yet our coastal areas remain vulnerable to extreme events like hurricanes and flooding,” added Jacobs.
According to NOAA, the 44 grants will generate approximately $60 million in matching contributions for a total impact of $90 million.
The grants will be used to restore or expand natural features that help minimize the impacts of storms, rising sea levels and other extreme weather events. The grants are expected to be used in places such as coastal marshes and wetlands, dune and beach systems, oyster and coral reefs, mangroves, forests, coastal rivers, and barrier islands.
Partnering with NOAA in this project are the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), oil giant Shell, and global reinsurance company TransRe. The four are part of the National Coastal Resiliency Fund (NCRF), created in 2018.
According to the NCRF in many coastal areas all along the United States, in addition to the impacts of major weather events such as hurricanes, communities are experiencing high tide flooding 10 to 20 days or more each year. These, they say result in ‘in public safety and health risks, such as road closures, overwhelmed storm drains, and compromised infrastructure and water quality’.
“In its second year, the National Coastal Resilience Fund continues to pull together the public and private sectors to enhance coastal habitats and at the same time provide much needed buffering to coastal communities against extreme weather events,” says Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of NFWF.
Among the projects contemplated for a grant is University of Miami’s project of using coral reef restoration to enhance coastal resilience of South Florida shorelines. The project, expected to receive more than six million dollars in grants, plans to restore over 150,000 coral colonies in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties, Florida.
The project, the only one given a grant in the state of Florida, hopes to ‘build coastal resilience to extreme weather, waves, flooding, and beach erosion, incorporate state-of-the-science approaches to build climate resilience into restored corals, and create essential habitat for fisheries and enhanced recreation opportunities’.
This is the second time in less than two months that the environmental agency has announced grants to help mitigate the effects of climate change and sea level rise.
At the beginning of October, NOAA’s Centers for Coastal Ocean Science announced it was awarding more than $1.5 million in fiscal year 2019, to more than thirty academic, government and non-governmental organizations.
The purpose was for research into how natural, man-made and restored coastal habitats could reduce the effects of sea level rise, flooding and storms.