Reflections on 2022

As we reflect on 2022, a lot of moments stand out. Restore America’s Estuaries hosted our 11th Coastal & Estuarine Summit, we added two new grant programs to our scope, and we witnessed the largest investment in coastal restoration in our nation’s history from the federal government.

In December, our team returned from New Orleans where RAE hosted the 2022 Coastal & Estuarine Summit. This was my first experience attending the Summit in person and I’m still in awe of the value this event holds in the coastal restoration community. More than 1,375 restoration professionals, practitioners, and policy makers made the trip to Louisiana or joined us virtually to share their experiences, lessons learned, and recommendations for the future.

In addition to the 1,300+ that participated in the Summit, we were also honored to have received support from more than 60 sponsors and exhibitors, which allowed us to grow the agenda to include more than 500 presenters and more than 100 sessions. The Summit also hosted more than 140 poster presenters and with the help of our sponsors, we were able to provide scholarships for more than 50 students and early career professionals from traditionally underrepresented communities to attend.

The success of this year’s Summit comes on the heels of the passage of historical level of support for investments in coastal restoration. RAE has long advocated that natural infrastructure, like healthy estuaries, is infrastructure. Between the Inflation Reduction Act and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law passed in late 2021 the federal government has dedicated more than $5 billion in new funding over the next five years to directly support projects that will improve coastal resilience and our growing coastal communities. This level of support for restoration represents the single largest investment in restoration in our nation’s history, and lays the foundation of what is needed to protect our coasts and coastal communities.

RAE continues to grow, as well, with two new staff members joining our team this year. In addition, we’ve partnered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to facilitate two new grant programs: the National Estuary Program Watershed Grants and the Long Island Sound Community Impact Fund. These new programs will not only allow us to continue funding restoration along our coasts but will also give us the ability to implement lessons learned from our Inclusive Coasts Initiative to improve diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice in grant making and project implementation.

The theme of the 2022 RAE Summit was aptly Resilient Coasts. Resilient Communities. We throw the word resilience around a lot, though, and as we look ahead, I realize we may be setting our aspirations too low. To paraphrase Jessica Dandridge, Executive Director of the Water Collaborative in New Orleans, let us aim instead for thriving coasts and thriving coastal communities in 2023 and beyond.

We are excited to advance thriving coasts and thriving coastal communities in 2023 and we look forward to working with you for many years to come.

Sincerely,

Daniel Hayden
President & CEO
Restore America’s Estuaries