With nearly $3 billion over the next 5 years, The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is taking historic action on habitat restoration, coastal resilience, and weather forecasting infrastructure by releasing several funding opportunities under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. NOAA hopes to address key climate risks such as floods, fire, drought and extreme heat and strengthen climate resilience in marine and coastal landscapes. NOAA’s Community-based Restoration Program has funded several past projects in the New England region, and this influx of funding offers new potential for projects centered on Habitat Restoration, Coastal Resilience, and Fish Passage.
As part of its Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding, NOAA released two opportunities for Habitat Restoration and Coastal Resilience, with one program aimed at assisting underserved communities. The programs total $491 million in funding over the next five years. The Transformational Habitat Restoration and Coastal Resilience Grants will fund projects to restore fisheries and protected resources, as well as strengthen resilience of coastal communities and ecosystems. There is up to $85 million available for this program in 2022, and applications are due September 16. The Coastal Habitat Restoration and Resilience Grants for Underserved Communities will support underserved communities in habitat restoration and capacity building to ensure these communities can more fully participate in future transformational habitat projects. This program is funded at $10 million in 2022 and applications are due September 30.
NOAA also released two opportunities for Fish Passage, funded at $400 million over the next five years. Fish passage projects entail the removal of dams and other in-stream barriers to restore marine, estuarine, coastal, and Great Lakes ecosystem habitat. The goal of these projects is to reopen migratory pathways, restore access to healthy habitat for fish, and increase resilience to climate change by removing or improving outdated infrastructure. One example of a successful fish passage project in New England is the reopening of the Penobscot River. NOAA worked with several partners, including the Penobscot Indian Nation, to remove dams and replace them with nature-like fishways. The project opened 30 miles of spawning habitat for sea-run fish including the Atlantic salmon, alewife, and American eel. With a significant influx of funding, two grant programs for fish passage are expected to assist in the revival of similar habitats. The Restoring Fish Passage through Barrier Removal grant program will fund locally-led removal of dams and other in-stream barriers. Projects developed with inclusive practices and a diverse range of community groups will be prioritized. This fish passage program is funded at $65 million in 2022 and applications are due August 15. The second program, Restoring Priority Tribal Fish Passage through Barrier Removal, will support Tribes, Tribal commissions, and Tribal consortia in implementing priority fish passage projects and building Tribal organizational capacity to participate in current and future fish passage projects. This program receives $12 million in 2022 and the application deadline is August 29.