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U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Coastal Program 2015 Annual Accomplishment Report

 


Message from the Refuge Chief The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) has the responsibility to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The environmental legacy that we pass on to future generations largely depends on our ability to protect and restore habitat on which plants and animals depend for their survival. Coastal habitats support 40% of the Service’s National Wildlife Refuges and are vital to fish and wildlife because 40% of our federally listed species, 25% of our wetlands, and over 30% of North American wintering waterfowl occur in our nation’s coastal areas. Coastal wetlands also provide important spawning grounds and nurseries for commercial and sport fish. The Coastal Program is the Service’s primary conservation tool for voluntary, citizen, and community-based fish and wildlife habitat conservation on both public and privately-owned coastal lands. Coastal counties make up only 10% of the lower 48 states but are home to more than half of the population and are among the most rapidly developing areas. These stressors present a significant challenge to habitat conservation and require innovative approaches to conservation such as those provided by the Coastal Program. Coastal Program staff provide technical and financial assistance to land managers and a diversity of conservation partners for the restoration and protection of coastal habitats throughout the nation and U.S. territories. With staff located in 24 priority areas along the coasts of the Atlantic, Pacific, Gulf of Mexico, Great Lakes and the Caribbean, the Coastal Program provides valuable technical expertise and delivers vital habitat restoration projects to help the Service achieve its conservation mission. This annual report showcases examples of the Service's accomplishments working with our conservation partners, including other federal, tribal, state, and local agencies, nonprofit organizations, universities, corporations, and private landowners. Through the Coastal Program, the Service has restored 546,390 acres of wetland and upland habitat, more than 2,590 miles of stream habitat, and helped protect 2,110,755 acres of important wildlife habitat. We will continue to build a strong legacy of wildlife stewardship through strategic habitat conservation and effective partnerships. Cynthia Martinez Chief National Wildlife Refuge System

  Background photograph: James River National Wildlife Refuge, VA: USFWS


Our approach is straightforward: engage willing partners and landowners, and provide technical and financial assistance to conserve fish and wildlife resources in priority coastal landscapes. Where We Work...The Service maintains Coastal Program offices in 24 priority coastal areas. What We Did… In 2015, working with 455 partners and landowners, the Coastal Program assessed, improved, and protected over...    

266 projects 64,440 acres of wetlands 29,910 acres of upland 194 miles of stream habitat

In 2015, Coastal Program projects leveraged $34 for every Coastal Program dollar.

 


Region 1: Pacific Northwest and Pacific Islands 2015 Project Locations Points may represent multiple accomplishments

Washington

2015 REGIONAL SUMMARY Accomplishments: (Restored and Protected)  24 projects  298 upland acres  4,144 wetland acres  30 stream miles  1 fish barrier removal

Project Contributions:  Coastal Program: $338,700  Partners: $6,374,664

Oregon

Hawai’i

Background photograph: School of manini: Kydd Pollock (USFWS)

 Inset photographs (clockwise from top left): Ha’ena coast, Hawai’i: Sheldon Plentovich (USFWS); Hawai’ian monk seal: Mark Sullivan; and Blue Trevally: James Watt (USFWS)


Community-Based Subsistence Fishing Area Kaua′i, Hawai'i

Hā'ena coast

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, nongovernmental 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 protect an important marine habitat, and support sustainable subsistence fisheries and cultural traditions. The local community will be 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 Management Plan.

THE IMPORTANCE OF CORAL REEFS 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]

The Hā′ena Community-Based Subsistence Fishing Area will also benefit the Hawaiian monk seal.

PROJECT-AT-A-GLANCE Funding Contribution: Coastal Program: $26,100 Partner: $18,300 Total project cost: $44,400 Partners:  Community Links Hawai′i  Hawai′i Department of Land and Natural Resources  Hui Maka′āinana o Makana Landscape Conservation Cooperative: Pacific Islands

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


Region 2: Southwest 2015 Project Locations Points may represent more than one accomplishment.

Texas

2015 REGIONAL SUMMARY Accomplishments: (Restored and Protected):  12 projects  4,359 upland acres  277 wetland acres

Project Contributions:  Coastal Program: $211,900  Partners: $6,441,880

Background photograph: Wood storks: Mary Ellen Urbanski Inset photographs (left to right): Black Skimmers: Greg Thompson and Lisa Cox (USFWS); Herons: Mike Norkum (Flickr); California least tern: Rinus Baak (USFWS); and Great egret: Matthew Paulson (Flickr)

 


Colonial Waterbird Rookery Enhancement Gulf of Mexico, Texas In an effort to reverse population declines, the Coastal Program is working with the National Audubon Society to enhance colonial waterbird rookeries. More than twenty species of colonial waterbirds nest on islands along the Texas coast. Habitat loss is the main cause of the declines. The loss of open ground from erosion is impacting ground-nesting birds, while the loss of trees and vegetation structure are effecting the shrub-nesting birds. Other contributing factors include predators and human disturbance. The Coastal Program conducted rookery surveys and provided management recommendations, which resulted in the enhancement of over 50 acres of habitat. The Coastal Program also assessed the nesting success of black skimmer and coordinated the annual Rookery Island Trash Cleanup. The National Audubon Society implemented the management recommendations, including installing nesting platforms, managing vegetation to increase ground nesting, controlling predators, and promoting public awareness of waterbird habitat. Restoration projects like this one support the goals and objectives identified by the Gulf Coast Joint Venture for reddish egrets, black skimmer and gull-billed tern. Habitat Planting

PROJECT-AT-A-GLANCE Funding Contribution: Coastal Program: $9,500 Partner: $12,500 Total project cost: $22,000 Partners:  National Audubon Society Landscape Conservation Cooperative: Gulf Coast Prairie

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By gathering in rookeries, colonial waterbirds increase the survival of their chicks. The colony shares the responsibility of guarding against predators and finding food.

DIFFERENT TYPES OF NESTS

The Coastal Program was instrumental in the development of the Service’s Vision for a Healthy Gulf of Mexico Watershed. The Coastal Program is also substantially involved in the implementation of this Vision. For example, this project is located in the Vision’s Coastal Wetlands and Barrier Islands focal area and supports several goals, including Restoring Wetland and Aquatic Ecosystems.  

There are two types of colonial waterbirds. Groundnesting birds, such as black skimmers and terns, prefer open ground or grass, where they can create depressions or grass nests to lay their eggs. Shrubnesting birds, such as herons and egrets, build their nests in shrubs and trees.

California Least Tern

Great Egret


Region 3: Midwest 2015 Project Locations Points may represent multiple accomplishments

2015 REGIONAL SUMMARY Accomplishments: (Restored and Protected)  15 projects  324 upland acres  5,231 wetland acres

Michigan Wisconsin

Project Contributions:  Coastal Program: $440,900  Partners: $3,989,900

Camp Amnicon

Michigan Illinois

Background photograph: Seney National Wildlife Refuge, MI: Courtney Celley (USFWS) Inset photographs (left to right): Camp Amnicon: Ted Koehler (USFWS); Piping plover: Kaiti Titherington (USFWS); Brook trout: NPS; and Lake Superior: Joanna Gilkeson (USFWS)

 


Migratory Bird and Brook Trout Habitat Protection South Range, Wisconsin The Coastal Program directly supports the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI), which aims to protect and restore the largest system of fresh surface water in the world. Although this project did not receive GLRI funding, it addresses several objectives identified in the GLRI’s Action Plan, including protecting, restoring and enhancing habitats to help sustain healthy populations of native species, and educate the next generation about the Great Lakes ecosystem.

PROJECT-AT-A-GLANCE Funding Contribution: Coastal Program: $8,000 Partner: $751,000 Total project cost: $759,000 Partners:  Camp Amnicon  West Wisconsin Land Trust Landscape Conservation Cooperative: Upper Midwest and Great Lakes

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The Coastal Program has a long-term commitment to strategically protecting important wildlife habitat along Lake Superior. For the last five years, the Coastal Program has worked with the West Wisconsin Land Trust to permanently protect 4,911 acres in the Lake Superior watershed, including 503 acres on Camp Amnicon in Wisconsin.

Piping Plover

The Camp Amnicon project protects forests and wetlands that benefit a diversity of wildlife, including the Canada warbler and wood duck. The project also protects two miles of riparian buffer along the Amnicon River and a half -mile of shoreline along Lake Superior, which will benefit brook trout and the federally endangered piping plover. In the future, the Coastal Program may work with partners to improve habitat on the property for federal trust species.

The site is also a migratory bird research area for the Wisconsin Stopover Initiative – a partnership among federal, state and local agencies, non-profit organizations, businesses, and individuals working together to protect and conserve habitat for migratory birds in the Great Lakes. Experts believe that the site’s forests may be especially important migratory bird stop-over habitat along the Mississippi Flyway. The site is also used as an outdoor classroom to educate youth about the importance of habitat Brook Trout conservation.  

The Mississippi Flyway runs from central Canada to the Gulf of Mexico region, following the Mackenzie River in Canada and the Mississippi River in the United States. Nearly half the North American bird species and 40% of the migrating waterfowl and shorebirds use the Mississippi Flyway.


Region 4: Southeast 2015 Project Locations

North Carolina

Points may represent more than one accomplishment

2015 REGIONAL SUMMARY South Carolina

Mississippi

Alabama

Georgia

Accomplishments: (Restored and Protected)  70 projects  9,233 upland acres  13,037 wetland acres  19 stream miles  1 fish barrier removal

Project Contributions:  Coastal Program: $796,500  Partners: $9,031,400

Louisiana Florida

Puerto Rico

  Background photograph: Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge, NC: Allie Stewart (USFWS)


Sand Dune Restoration Camuy, Puerto Rico For decades, sand dunes have been destroyed and/or depleted by hurricanes and sand mining operations along coast of Puerto Rico. Working with Vida Marina Center for Coastal Restoration and Conservation at the University of Puerto Rico, the Coastal Program restored 120 acres of sand dune habitat and promote coastal resiliency in Camuy, Puerto Rico.

Restored sand dunes

Located in the Finca Nolla Reserve, the project restored dune habitat by installing sand accumulation barriers. Dune erosion was reduced by planting native vegetation, and installing boardwalks and signage to protect sensitive areas. The project will benefit federally endangered sea turtles by restoring and protecting nesting habitat, along with other federal trust species.

The Coastal Program is leading the Service's effort to increase coastal resiliency by protecting and restoring coastal ecosystems. The Coastal Program is working with communities to implement conservation projects that provide important wildlife habitat, plan for climate change impacts, and address public safety concerns.

The Vida Marina Center uses the restoration site to train students and teachers from local schools and universities about conservation biology and habitat restoration. PROJECT-AT-A-GLANCE Funding Contribution: Coastal Program: $72,800 Partner: $132,000 Total project cost: $204,800 Partners:  Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources  University of Puerto Rico  Municipality of Camuy

Sand Accumulation Barriers Public Boardwalk

 

Education Program

Landscape Conservation Cooperative: Caribbean

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Inset photographs (clockwise from top left): Restored sand dunes: Vida Marina Center; Sand dune: USFWS; Green turtle: Julie Suess; and Project photographs: Vida Marina Center


Region 5: Northeast 2015 Project Locations

Maine

Points may represent multiple accomplishments

New Hampshire

New York Massachusetts

2015 REGIONAL SUMMARY

Connecticut

Rhode Island

Pennsylvania New Jersey

Delaware

Virginia

Maryland

Background photograph: Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, MD: USFWS Inset photographs (top to bottom): Phragmites australis: Nell Cornwall (Flickr); and Nanticoke River: USFWS

 

Accomplishments: (Restored and Protected)  53 projects  14,761 upland acres  965 wetland acres  43 stream miles  23 fish barrier removals

Project Contributions:  Coastal Program: $50,400  Partners: $9,918,800


HURRICANE SANDY RECOVERY Dorchester County, Maryland

The Coastal Program immediately responded to Hurricane Sandy by assessing coastal impacts, include those on National Wildlife Refuges. Following the damage assessment, the Coastal Program was active in the planning and implementing of recovery and coastal resiliency projects, such as this phragmites eradication project.

In the fall of 2012, storm surges from Hurricane Sandy damaged coastal ecosystems along the Nanticoke River in Maryland. This allowed the expansion of non-native phragmites (Phragmites australis subsp. australis), which is an invasive, perennial grass that is a serious threat to the wetland plants and animals because it aggressively displaces native plants and provides minimal habitat or food for native wildlife. The Nanticoke River watershed comprises about one-third of all the tidal wetlands in Maryland, and contains many unique habitats, and threatened and endangered species, including Atlantic white cedar wetlands, Harper’s beakrush and Parker’s pipewort. In 2015, the Coastal Program, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, and the Delmarva Resource Conservation and Development Council partnered to restore 2,050 acres of degraded coastal marshes along the Nanticoke River by eradicating non-native phragmites using aerial spraying of pesticides. This restoration also protects 3,000 acres of adjacent salt marsh from the threat of phragmites. The Coastal Program planned and managed this coastal resiliency project - prioritizing restoration areas, acquiring funds through the Department of Interior's Hurricane Sandy Coastal Resiliency Grant, and coordinating outreach to the local community and nearly 100 landowners.

 

PROJECT-AT-A-GLANCE Funding Contribution: Hurricane Sandy Coastal Resiliency Grant: $95,215 Total Project Cost: $95,215 Partners:  Maryland Department of Natural Resources  Delmarva Resource Conservation and Development Council Landscape Conservation Cooperative:  North Atlantic

Native Phagmites? There is a native phragmites (Phragmites australis subsp. americanus) found along the eastern United States. This noninvasive grass is a lighter shade of green and has a smoother stem than the invasive phragmites. The native species also grows less densely and is shorter in height.


Region 7: Alaska 2015 Project Locations Alaska

Points may represent multiple accomplishments

The Palmer Hay Flats State Game Refuge’s estuary is a very productive migratory bird stopover and nesting area, with large numbers of songbirds, waterfowl, shorebirds, and raptors, including blackpoll warbler, Pacific loon, Sandhill cranes, and short-eared owls.

2015 REGIONAL SUMMARY Accomplishments: (Restored and Protected)  30 projects  152 upland acres  1,018 wetland acres  6 stream miles

Project Contributions:  Coastal Program: $135,000  Partners: $3,655,000

Background photograph: Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge: John Martin (USFWS) Inset photograph (left to right): Short-eared owl: Nathan Rupert (Flickr); Pacific loon: Linda Tanner (Flickr); Blackpoll warbler: Dave Inman (Flickr); and Sandhill crane: USFWS Opposite page inset photographs (left to right): Wasilla Creek, AK: Carl Johnson; and Elementary student: USFWS

 


Upper Knik Conservation Matanuska-Susitna Borough, Alaska For 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.

Three miles of Wasilla Creek and its surrounding habitat are protected with the largest subdivision in the Mat-Su Borough in the background.

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.

Whether in uplands, wetlands, or rivers, habitat fragmentation is a serious threat to plants and wildlife. Preserving corridors between protected habitats is important for sustaining a heathy ecosystem, because these corridors support species migration and biological diversity. The Upper Knik conservation project, coupled with Coastal Program projects from previous years, enhance habitat connectivity between Palmer Hayflats State Game Refuge and the 780 square-mile Chugach State Park.

PROJECT-AT-A-GLANCE Funding Contribution: Coastal Program: $18,500 National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grants: $804,000 Partners: $677,500 Total project cost: $1,500,000 Partners:  The Great Land Trust  State of Alaska  Pacific Joint Venture  Mat-Su Borough  Mat-Su Basin Salmon Habitat Partnership  The Conservation Fund  Murdoch and Rasmuson Foundations  ConocoPhillips  Machetanz Elementary School  Private landowners and many others Landscape Conservation Cooperative: Northwest Boreal Forest

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Service Cross-Program Collaboration: Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program

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Region 8: Pacific Southwest 2015 Project Locations Points may represent multiple accomplishments.

Nevada

California Student Planting Day

2015 REGIONAL SUMMARY Accomplishments: (Restored and Protected)  18 projects  642 upland acres  2,280 wetland acres  8 stream miles

Project Contributions:  Coastal Program: $154,400  Project Partners: $4,555,200

 

Background photograph: Humboldt County, CA: Maggie Bourque Inset photographs: Schoolyard habitat planting day: USFWS Opposite page inset photographs (clockwise from top left): Emerging monarch: USFWS; Monarch catapillar: Beatrice Murch (Flickr); Anna’s hummingbird: Robert McMorran (USFWS); and Simi Valley: dailymatador (Flickr)


Monarch Schoolyard Habitat Simi Valley, California

The Schoolyard Habitat Program connects kids with nature by helping schools to create native wildlife habitat and sustainable outdoor classroom. The Coastal Program provides technical and financial assistance to administrators, teachers, and students to create effective schoolyard habitat projects.

The Coastal Program worked with the Simi Valley Adventist Church School to enhance 1.3 acres of upland habitat in Ventura County, California. The project is located in Simi Valley, which is part of the Greater Los Angeles Area. Simi Valley is surrounded by the Simi Hills, which are an important wildlife corridor between the Santa Monica Mountains to the Santa Susana Mountains. Working with the Coastal Program, the students decided to provide habitat for a number of native species, including monarch butterfly, western fence lizard, Anna's hummingbird, sphinx moth, California fuchsia, white sage, and coyote bush. The Coastal Program worked with teachers and students to develop an enhancement plan and to plant the habitat. The Coastal Program also provided presentations to students on native habitats and wildlife. The students are maintaining the schoolyard habitat and monitoring wildlife use. Simi Valley

PROJECT-AT-A-GLANCE Funding Contribution: Coastal Program: $5,624 Total project cost: $5,624 Partners:  Valley Adventist Church School Landscape Conservation Cooperative: California

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Service Cross-Program Collaboration: Schoolyard Habitat Program

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The Department of the Interior’s Youth Initiative aims to inspire millions of young people to play, learn, serve, and work in the outdoors. The Coastal Program has supported this priority through our involvement in the Schoolyard Habitat Program and other educational projects.

 


 

Technical Assistance The Coastal Program provides technical assistance to support landscape-scale habitat conservation ranging from habitat assessments, adaptive habitat management, conservation design and monitoring, grant administration, and national policy development. Our staff possess diverse skills and expertise to provide assistance to other Service programs, federal, state and local agencies, tribes, conservation groups, universities, corporations, and private landowners. Our technical assistance provides broader benefits to federal trust species by helping partners develop policies and conduct landscape-scale conservation planning. It also enables us to enlist the support of diverse partners to achieve the Service's conservation priorities. The Coastal Program encourages community stewardship through outreach and training. By developing conservation tools and protocols, we promote ecologically sound decision making and improve the delivery of successful habitat conservation. These efforts improve the science of restoration and reduce the overall cost of habitat conservation.

Academic Instruction Technical Training

Coastal Wetland Conservation Grant Assistance

Invasive Species Coordination

Youth Outreach

Background photograph: Palmyra Atoll National Wildlife Refuge, U.S. Minor Outlying Islands: Erik Oberg (Island Conservation) Inset photographs (clockwise from top left): Christopher Eng (USFWS); Christopher Darnell (USFWS); Laurie Hewitt (USFWS); Steve Kendrot (APHIS); and Joe Milmoe (USFWS)

 


MONARCH BUTTERFLY INITIATIVE The Coastal Program continues to support the Service’s Monarch Conservation Initiative, which plans to restore more than 200,000 acres of monarch habitat. Within the Service, the Coastal Program is collaborating with other programs to develop conservation capacity and to prioritize and plan conservation activities. The Coastal Program is also working with State agencies, non-profit organizations, and others to develop regional monarch management plans and to implement on-the-ground habitat improvement projects. Working with partners, the Coastal Program has restored and protected over 5,400 acres of monarch habitat.

GULF OF MEXICO RESTORATION The restoration of the Gulf of Mexico due to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill is one of the most complex and comprehensive conservation efforts ever undertaken. It requires coordination among the 5 Gulf States (i.e., Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas), multiple Federal agencies, and hundreds of local governments, non-governmental organizations, and citizens. The Coastal Program is delivering landscape-scale conservation by providing critical links between partners who are implementing conservation projects. The Coastal Program serves as an advisor for projects funded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund, National Resources Damage Assessment Program, the Restore Council, North American Wetlands Conservation Act, and other sources. In 2015, over $350 million was spent on restoration projects bringing the overall investment following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill to over $1.5 billion. The Coastal Program also provided funding and/or was involved in the delivery of many of these projects that benefited Service trust resources (e.g., migratory birds, endangered species, interjurisdictional fisheries, and federal lands).

Inset photographs (top to bottom): Monarch butterfly: Ken Slade (Flickr); Monarch chrysalis:USFWS; Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill: NOAA

 


Technical Assistance NATIONAL COASTAL WETLANDS CONSERVATION GRANT PROGRAM The Coastal Program and the Wildlife Restoration and Sport Fish Restoration Program collaborate to administer the National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant (NCWCG) Program. Annually, the NCWCG Program distributes $18-20 million to restore and/or protect coastal wetlands and uplands that provide valuable habitat for fish and wildlife. On average, the NCWCG Program leverages about 120% of its grant funds, which is derived from the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust. The Coastal Program works with state agencies to identify and develop high quality conservation projects in priority coastal areas. Since 1992, the NCWCG Program has helped restore and/or protect over 360,000 acres of the coastal habitat.

Protected 1,374 acres adjacent to Lake Superior, Michigan

LANDSCAPE CONSERVATION PLANNING

Tijuana National Wildlife Refuge, California

As chair of the Wetlands Managers Group (WMG) for the Southern California Wetlands Recovery Project (WRP), the Coastal Program is leading a diverse partnership of federal, state and local agencies, elected officials, academics, non-profit organizations, businesses, and citizens. The goal of the partnership is to improve wetland conservation through strategic landscape planning from Santa Barbara to the border of Mexico.

The Coastal Program’s involvement maintains the Service’s relationship with leading conservation partners, and provides an excellent opportunity to implement Strategic Habitat Conservation in southern California. The WRP has begun to update its strategic plan, with financial assistance from a Landscape Conservation Cooperative grant and a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency grant. As part of the update, WRP is collaboratively developing a science-based management framework that will set recovery objectives synthesized from historic and existing data, and future recovery goals.   Background photograph: Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge, NC: Allie Stewart (USFWS) Inset photographs (clockwise from top left): Abbaye Peninsula, Michigan: Keweenaw Land Trust; Marsh grass: Eric Drost (Flickr); Breaching Humpback Whales: Anna (Flickr); and Tijuana National Wildlife Refuge, California: Ralph Lee Hopkins with aerial support by LightHawk

 


 

LIVING SHORELINES 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.

MARINE NATIONAL MONUMENTS Presidents George W. Bush and Barrack Obama have designated large areas of the Pacific Ocean as Marine National Monuments - pristine ocean ecosystems that contain unique biodiversity (e.g., whales, tuna, sea turtles, and seabirds), natural features (e.g., hydrothermal vents, cold seeps, underwater mountain systems, and ancient corals), and cultural resources. These marine areas also play an important role in commercial fisheries and climate change resiliency. The U.S. Department of Interior and the Service, in coordination with the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, share the responsibility for managing these monuments and regulating fisheries-related activities. Under the National Wildlife Refuge System, the Coastal Program is developing policies and providing outreach that supports for the Service’s role in managing the Marine National Monuments.

 


Technical Assistance NEW ENGLAND COTTONTAIL The Service recently announced that the New England cottontail, the only rabbit native to New England and parts of New York, does not require protection under the Endangered Species Act. Over the last half century, development and forest succession has reduced the population to 14% of its historic range. Working with Natural Resources Conservation Service, Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge, the Coastal Program conducted surveys to determine the presence and range of the rabbits in Maine. The Coastal Program also maintained the GIS database containing the survey data. This information helped to inform the New England cottontail decision; however, partner commitments to conserve habitat and recover the population to 13,500 individuals by 2030 was the main reason to not list the rabbits. As a result of the partners’ conservation efforts, it is estimated that the New England Cottontail population has already increased to three-quarters of the way to the goal.

FARM BILL CONSERVATION PROGRAMS Through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farm Bill conservation programs, agricultural producers and other private landowners receive billions of dollars to apply habitat conservation practices on millions of acres of land. The Coastal Program helps the USDA to develop and deliver these conservation programs by providing habitat and wildlife considerations that are incorporated into the programs, and working with landowners to carryout on-the-ground conservation projects. For example, Coastal Program staff is serving as the Chair of the Forestry, Wildlife and Wetland Subcommittee under the USDA’s State Technical Committee in the Caribbean. The State Technical Committee supports the USDA by recommending conservation priorities, identifying focal areas, evaluating conservation practice standards and specifications, and assisting with public outreach.   Background photograph: Widgeon grass in Chesapeake Bay, MD: Peter McGowan (USFWS) Inset photographs (clockwise from top left): New England cottontail: USFWS; Restoring Island Ecosystems brochure: USFWS; Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge , CO: USFWS, and Farm field, PA: Fishhawk (Flickr)

 


RESTORING ISLAND ECOSYSTEMS Recognizing the importance of island ecosystems and their vulnerability to invasive species, the Service and Island Conservation adopted an Island Restoration Memorandum of Understanding that promotes invasive species removal for the benefit of native, island plants and animals. In support of this effort, the Coastal Program prepared a Restoring Island Ecosystems brochure (http:// bit.ly/1K3wy4s) that explains the importance of conservation on islands and highlights several successful invasive species removal projects, including examples of specific biological outcomes.

URBAN WILDLIFE REFUGE INITIATIVE With 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.

 


U.S. Department of the Interior US Fish & Wildlife Service http://www.fws.gov/coastal

Background photograph: Kilchis, Oregon: Chris Swenson (USFWS) Front cover photographs (Left to Right): Blackwater River, WV: Gerri Wilson; Monarch butterfly: Greg Thompson (USFWS); Long-billed curlew: R. Baak Back cover photographs (Left to Right): Tufted puffin: Steve Ebbert (USFWS); Coral reef in Bicayne Bay: NPS; Delmarva fox squirrel: USFWS

 


Coastal Program 2015 Annual Report