Since 1985, the USFWS Coastal Program has forged partnerships with more than 6,400 partners and organizations. These collaborations have produced numerous restoration and conservation successes and have helped protect more than 2.1 million acres of habitat, restore over 550,000 acres and more than 2,600 miles of streams. The results of these partnership efforts has resulted in the delisting or down-listing of 20 federally-listed threatened and endangered species. For more information on how to work with the Coastal Program, visit our interactive map to find a Coastal Program office near you.

BUILDING RESILIENT COASTS FOR CARBON SEQUESTRATION AT BRANDON MARSH NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE

BRANDONMARSHClimate change impacts (e.g., weather pattern changes, invasive species, and sea level rise) may be the greatest challenge to wildlife and habitat conservation. The Coastal Program is working with partners to address the causes and impacts associated with climate change and to restore and protect lands that provide wildlife habitat and sequester atmospheric carbon dioxide. At Bandon Marsh National Wildlife Refuge, the Coastal Program collaborated with the Coos Bay Bureau of Land Management to restore 19 acres of upland habitat within the Refuge, located along the coast in southern Oregon. The former pasture was planted with over 6,000 native trees, shrubs, and understory vegetation that will provide habitat for pileated woodpeckers, great horned owls, bobcats, and the Pacific giant salamander. According to American Forests, one mature tree can absorb 48 pounds of atmospheric carbon dioxide per year and this reforestation project will help sequester an estimated 9,703 tons of carbon dioxide (total net over baseline conditions) over the next 120 years.  

REBUILDING SPAWNING REEFS FOR LAKE STURGEON IN THE GREAT LAKES

LAKESTURGEON

Lake sturgeon are the largest, longest-living freshwater fish in the US. Overfishing, habitat loss and pollution caused the population decline of lake sturgeon, with only a remnant population found in the Great Lakes region. One of the USFWS’s regional priority species, the lake sturgeon are listed as threatened or endangered in nearly all the States of its original range. Of the 26 tributaries that currently support sturgeon, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Action Plan identified 16 that would benefit from habitat enhancements.

Between 2004 and 2015, six spawning reef projects have been completed in the Detroit and St. Clair Rivers totaling 12.6 acres. The Coastal Program worked with the Michigan Wildlife Conservancy, St. Clair-Detroit River Sturgeon for Tomorrow, Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Geological Survey, and the University of Michigan to construct the Hart’s Light Reef: four acres of limestone cobble rocks preferred by lake sturgeon to lay their eggs. Final adjustments to the reef were completed in 2016; however, sturgeon began spawning on the structure soon after the reef was constructed in 2014. Project monitoring has documented sturgeon eggs on the reef for the last two years. The reefs have been found to benefit at least 15 other species of fish and are expected to increase fishing opportunities for many species like walleye, yellow perch, lake whitefish, rock bass, white suckers, and more.

 

COMMUNITY-BASED SUBSISTENCE FISHING AREA IN KAUA'I, HAWAII

HAENACOAST

The Coastal Program helped establish a six-square-mile community-based marine protected area on the north shore of Kaua′i. Starting in 2008, the Coastal Program partnered with the Kaua′i north shore community of Hā'ena, Hawai'i Department of Land and Natural Resources, non-governmental organizations, and others to develop a management plan and train community members to oversee Hā'ena's 3,583-acre near-shore coral reef ecosystem.

The goals of the marine protected area are to safeguard an important marine habitat and support sustainable subsistence fisheries and cultural traditions. The local community is actively involved in overseeing the Hā′ena area, including monitoring marine resources and reporting violations (e.g., coral poaching and exceeding bag limits). This is the first such area in Hawai′i, and is a model for other communities to co-manage their marine resources with the state. In August 2015, Governor Ige approved the Hā′ena Community-Based Subsistence Fishing Area

In addition to providing fish and wildlife habitat, coral reefs sustain marine biodiversity, protect coastlines, source new medicines, and support recreational opportunities and local economies. One study estimates that Hawai′i's coral reefs provide $360 million for economic benefits per year. [a]

[a] Cesar, H., P. van Beukering, S. Pintz, and J.Dierking, 2002. Economic valuation of Hawaiian reefs. Arnham, The Netherlands: Cesar Environment Economics Consulting.

 

PROTECTING THE MATANUSKA-SUSITNA BOROUGH IN ALASKA FROM HABITAT FRAGMENTATION

AKMARITIMEFor several years, the Coastal Program has been working with partners to protect quality habitat in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough (Borough), located northeast of Anchorage, Alaska. The Borough is one of the most populous and rapidly growing regions of Alaska. As such, it is critically important to conserve fish and wildlife habitats vulnerable to development and other land use changes. The Borough provides economically-important recreational fishing opportunities. The effects of these land use changes have caused the State to designate several salmon stocks of management concern.

One recent project permanently protected approximately 917 acres of habitat, including over three miles of stream habitat. In 2015, the State of Alaska formally incorporated this property into the 28,000-acre Palmer Hay Flats State Game Refuge (Refuge) - one of the most important year-round wildlife and outdoor recreational areas in Alaska.

The Refuge is home to wolves, bears, moose, and river otters, as well as all five species of Pacific salmon (i.e., chinook, sockeye, coho, pink, and chum). This project completes one of the largest voluntary land conservation projects in southcentral Alaska and establishes a permanently protected habitat corridor between the Refuge and other protected areas in the region. The Coastal Program anticipates an additional 58 acres of wetland and forest will be protected in the future.

 

CREATING LIVING SHORELINES

LIVINGSHORELINES

An alternative to hardened shorelines, living shorelines use materials like oyster reefs, sand and stone, and aquatic and wetland plants, instead of rip-rap, bulkheads or concrete walls. Unlike more structural approaches, living shorelines maintain shoreline processes and provide habitat for aquatic and riparian species. Living shorelines also improve water quality and are generally more cost effective.

To promote living shorelines, the Coastal Program worked with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Florida Department of Environmental Protection, The Nature Conservancy, and others to develop the website - FloridaLivingShorelines.com. The purpose of the website is to inform coastal property owners about the benefits of living shorelines, restoration techniques, and resources available to help them create a living shoreline.

 

LEADING OCELOT RECOVERY PROGRAMS IN TEXAS

OCELOT

The federally-listed endangered ocelot was once found in Texas, Arkansas, and Louisiana; however, now they are only found in southern Texas – preferring dense shrub land. Habitat loss and fragmentation are the greatest challenge to their recovery. In Texas, ocelots have lost more than 95% of their habitat to agriculture, and urban development. The Coastal Program teamed up with the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge, the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge, and The Nature Conservancy to lead ocelot recovery efforts through restoration and protection of habitat and the creation of wildlife corridors that will allow ocelots to safely disperse and strengthen their genetic diversity. This project initially started with improving nearly 12 acres of habitat in southern coastal Texas through planting native trees and shrubs (i.e., coyotillo and thornshrub). This recovery area is now permanently protected with a conservation easement. The USFWS is also working with the Texas Department of Transportation to install wildlife crossings under highways to prevent ocelots and other wildlife from being killed on roads. In addition to benefiting the ocelot, this project also benefits the Texas jaguarundi and Texas ayenia.

 

SUPPORTING URBAN WILDLIFE REFUGE INITIATIVE

BUFFALOWith 80% of Americans living in cities, the Service is challenged with connecting urban communities with wild and natural places. The Service has proposed an Urban Wildlife Refuge Initiative, which increases access for urban youth to the National Wildlife Refuge System. The Service is working to establish 10 National Wildlife Refuges in urban areas across the country along with a network of organizations to engage urban youth in on-the-ground conservation activities.

The Coastal Program is helping with the planning of the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge, - America’s first urban refuge. The Coastal Program is also helping to design and construct community gardens and schoolyard habitats, including butterfly gardens and wetlands that can serve as outdoor classrooms.

 

RESTORING AND CONSERVING ISLAND ECOSYSTEMS

ISLAND

Islands support an estimated 20% of all bird, reptile, and plant species, and nearly 40% of the endangered species, despite accounting for approximately 5% of the Earth’s land. Island habitats face many challenges, including invasive species and development. The Coastal Program is working with partners to restore and protect island habitats around the nation.

In Maine, the Coastal Program is working with the Harpswell Heritage Land Trust, the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust, and the Maine Coast Heritage Trust to permanently protect over 100 acres of island habitat on Casco Bay – an estuary of national significance. The Coastal Program assisted with the project planning, and helped to secure funding from the National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant Program—$500,000 in 2016 for a total of $1.4 million since the beginning of the project. Conservation of these wetland and upland habitats are a priority for the Service and Maine. These habitats are identified as 

Significant Wildlife Habitat for waterfowl, wading birds, and shorebirds, including the federally-listed endangered roseate tern, and the Atlantic puffin and salt marsh sparrow – species of state special concern. The project also protects eel grass and other aquatic habitats that are important to many fish species, including Atlantic herring, striped bass, and the federally-listed endangered Atlantic salmon.

ISLANDECOSYSTEMRecognizing the importance of island ecosystems, the Service and Island Conservation adopted an Island Restoration Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that promotes invasive species removal for the benefit of native, island plants and animals. The Coastal Program supports this MOU by restoring and protecting important island habitats.

In support of this effort, the Coastal Program & Partners for Fish & Wildlife created the Restoring Island Ecosystems brochure to explain the importance of conservation on islands and highlight successful invasive species removal projects and the biological outcomes of these projects.  

 

INVESTING IN NATURE

INVESTINGINNATURETogether with the  Land Trust Alliance and  Partners for Fish & Wildlife worked together to create the  Investing in Nature brochure, presenting the economic value of protecting our land and water. Having a good estimate of nature’s value allows communities to make informed land management decisions and effectively advocate for land protection. Local economies are associated with natural resources through tourism and jobs, drinking water quality, health care costs, storm protection, and more.