NOAA, DU partnering for Texas wetlands

awetlandsThis fall, two Gulf Coast restoration projects are being added to a three-year agreement between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s 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.

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.

“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 three 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.