Twenty-five years ago, a stalwart group of coastal conservation organizations was gathered together by Pew Charitable Trusts to discuss the state of our nation’s estuaries. Across the country our coastlines were in a state of disrepair. Water quality was rapidly declining, development was steadily increasing, and our estuaries were bearing the brunt of these effects. Pew envisioned a national initiative that tied together regional organizations with deep-rooted community connections. Together, they could advocate at the national level in order to empower their work on a local scale. In 1995, as a result of these meetings, Restore America’s Estuaries was created as a new entity dedicated to supporting coastal restoration efforts nationwide.
Two and a half decades later, Restore America’s Estuaries has become a national leader in the ongoing charge to protect and restore our coasts. We have firmly established the RAE Alliance as a powerful network of coastal conservation organizations and solidified our presence in this community through partnerships and groundbreaking work. Throughout the years, we have supported the restoration of thousands of acres of vital habitat and engaged countless volunteers in these efforts. Together with our members, RAE has advanced the science and practice of coastal restoration through cutting-edge research, data analysis, and thoughtful dissemination.
Perhaps above all, RAE has connected members of the conservation community from every stretch of our coastlines, convening diverse stakeholders from a wide variety of sectors, all united by their common commitment to estuarine restoration. We’ve accomplished this both through traditional gatherings, such as workshops, trainings, and briefings, as well as webinars and online forums. Since 2003, we have hosted the National Coastal and Estuarine Summit, an international gathering of coastal professionals encompassing all disciplines within the coastal and estuarine restoration and management communities.
By continuously mobilizing the coastal conservation community over the many years since our founding, RAE is fulfilling the vision upon which it was created: Leveraging the resources of diverse organizations with similar missions to achieve together, what they could not achieve alone. We are creating a broad and lasting impact that benefits not only the organizations seeking to protect and restore our coastlines, but the communities in which these estuaries are vital components of the economy, culture, and overall way of life.
Together with our members, partners, and supporters, RAE has changed the future course and very existence of our nation’s estuaries, bays, and coasts. Our 25th anniversary is an occasion to celebrate all that we have accomplished and all that we have become as an organization over these past years At the same time, we look forward to tackling new challenges and seizing opportunities that will undoubtedly arise in our next 25 years as we continue to Restore America’s Estuaries.
Jeff Benoit is president and CEO of Restore America’s Estuaries.