Looking ahead to continued success in 2021
Each year, salmon, striped bass, shad, and a host of other anadromous fish return from the ocean to the streams where they were born to spawn. However turbulent their individual journeys may be or severe the storms along the way, their reappearance after years at sea is welcomed as a sign of rebirth and a cause to rejoice.
As the calendar flipped to 2021, we feel a similar sense of renewal. We are cautiously optimistic for a return to normalcy in the face of attacks on our democratic processes and the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. We are looking forward to working closely with Congress and the Biden administration to tackle the challenges that face our nation’s coastal waterways and communities.
Recent investments in the 2021 Congressional budget prioritize key initiatives that protect our coasts and estuaries have lifted our spirits about the country’s commitment to healthy coasts and vibrant coastal communities. Here are just a few highlights from the latest federal budget:
- Increased funding for NOAA, EPA, and USFWS
- Increased funding authorization for the National Estuary Program (page 70)
- Increased funding for estuary restoration programs such in the Great Lakes, Chesapeake Bay, San Francisco Bay, and Puget sound to name a few (page 59 and 164)
As for our programs, 2021 is shaping up to be our most successful year on record.
RAE continues to work across sectors to support restoration programs. The Tampa Bay Environmental Restoration Fund will partner with Florida state and local agencies and the private sector to invest in the Tampa Bay region. While the Caring for our Coasts Gulf Regions grant program received an astounding number of exceptional applications for on-the-ground partners to restore and replenish our Gulf Coast.
The Southeast New England Partnership (SNEP) is prepared to announce its 2021 funding in just a few short weeks, providing much needed dollars to carry out projects in Rhode Island and Massachusetts.
And lastly, the Coastal Watersheds Grant Program is poised for a successful rollout of its first grant cycle this year, supporting National Estuary Programs from coast to coast. Join us on January 27th for a live webinar announcement of the grantees.
All these grant programs received far more qualified applicants than funding permitted which demonstrates the need for more funding to the invest in our estuaries and bays.
In addition to these programmatic successes, we’re happy to add a new webinar series to our list of engagement opportunities. The first of these monthly events will take place on January 12th and will highlight a grassroots effort to protect Alaska’s Bristol Bay from a proposed open pit copper and gold mine. Click here to register!
This October, RAE, American Littoral Society, the New Jersey and Chesapeake Bay field offices of U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and other partners will be hosting the 5th Living Shorelines Tech Transfer Workshop in beautiful Cape May, NJ. This will be our first in-person event since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic and we couldn’t imagine a better location or group of people to share it with. Be on the lookout for more details in the weeks to come!
With our renewed sense of optimism, we also recognize that many of our nation’s crises require urgent attention. Sea levels are rising, shorelines are eroding, and water chemistry is changing all due to climate change which threatens not just our way of life, but our national security and economic stability.
We commit to hold our elected official’s accountable to tackle the climate crisis and work with our partners at all levels of government to enact climate ready solutions in shoreline restoration and protection and using our wetlands and waterways to sequester carbon and protect our communities.
We also commit to sticking to our goals of creating safe, healthy, and accessible estuaries for all. Not only must our solutions be environmentally sensible, they must also be equitable, just, and inclusive.
Thank you for your support in 2020. Here’s to getting back to work in 2021 and starting the year strong. We hope you’ll join us for our journey.
President & CEO
Restore America’s Estuaries