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NOAA, Ducks Unlimited conserving America's coasts

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  • Coastal wetlands continue to be lost despite their importance to the economic and ecologic health of the nation.
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LAFAYETTE, La. – Dec. 17, 2012 – This fall, two Gulf Coast restoration projects are being added to a three-year agreement between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Restoration Center and Ducks Unlimited. The Conserving America's Coasts partnership agreement aims to protect and restore approximately 5,000 acres of coastal habitats across the nation.

NOAA is the nation's top science agency for climate, oceans and the atmosphere, and Ducks Unlimited is the world leader in wetlands conservation. 
 
"NOAA and DU are natural partners," said Jerry Holden, DU director of conservation programs. "What two better organizations could America have working together to conserve these vital coastal ecosystems?"

With this agreement, NOAA committed more than $2.6 million over three years for coastal project funding. Ducks Unlimited works with other non-federal partners to match that commitment and more than double the initial funding.

"NOAA has been entrusted to manage the nation's fisheries, and these wetlands represent some of our most productive nursery grounds," said Sam Rauch, deputy assistant administrator for NOAA Fisheries. "We're pleased to work with Ducks Unlimited to rebuild these habitats because we share a common understanding that they are vital to our nation's ecologic and economic security."

Coastal wetlands serve as natural protection from storm surge and storm-related flooding. By some estimates, approximately 3 miles of coastal wetlands shrink storm surges by 1 foot. In the face of sea-level rise, coastal marsh loss and increasingly costly hurricanes, storm surge absorption is more vital than ever to the nation's economic security.

The first project under this agreement was completed in 2011 in California's San Francisco Bay area and restored 1,500 acres of titdal wetlands. Another project in northern California improved coastal estuarine habitat important to waterfowl and endangered salmon species. The final Pacific Coast project will restore former tidal habitats comprising one of the last wetland links needed to fully restore the northern end of San Francisco Bay.

Two projects in the Gulf Coast region—a freshwater introduction project in Terrebonne Parish, La., and a shoreline protection and marsh restoration project in Galveston County, Texas—will be added to the partnership accomplishments.

Construction on the Louisiana project is scheduled to begin soon. DU, in cooperation with NOAA and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, will begin engineering and authorization for the Texas project this fall, with construction planned for 2013. 

The partners are currently collaborating to identify projects that will complete this joint effort. Projects are selected by NOAA and DU staff based on a variety of ecological and economic benefits. In addition to waterfowl and other wildlife and fisheries habitat benefits, these projects also focus on valuable ecosystem services that wetlands provide, such as improving water quality, reducing storm and flood impacts and improving coastal resiliency. 

Economic benefits of coastal restoration include creating and retaining jobs, increasing non-consumptive recreational opportunities and increasing commercial and recreational hunting and fishing, particularly in underserved regions and communities.

"We look forward to building on this successful partnership in the future," Holden said. "DU will continue to work with NOAA to seek projects that provide overlapping environmental, economic and waterfowl benefits in our highest-priority habitats, particularly along the Gulf Coast, where approximately 90 percent of the country's coastal wetland loss occurs."

Ducks Unlimited Inc. is the world's largest non-profit organization dedicated to conserving North America's continually disappearing waterfowl habitats. Established in 1937, DU is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, with special events, projects and promotions across the continent. Ducks Unlimited has conserved more than 12 million acres thanks to contributions from more than a million supporters across the continent. Guided by science and dedicated to program efficiency, DU works toward the vision of wetlands sufficient to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever. For more information on our work, visit www.ducks.org. Connect with us on our Facebook page at facebook.com/DucksUnlimited, follow our tweets at twitter.com/DucksUnlimited and watch DU videos at youtube.com/DucksUnlimitedInc.

Andi Cooper
601-956-1936


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