In September, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the awarding of $3.5 million to an ongoing program that supports projects to protect and restore America’s estuaries. It’s the second award of this kind from the EPA to Restore America’s Estuaries (RAE), the organization that manages the competitive National Estuary Program (NEP) Watersheds Grant Program.
Why Do Estuaries Need Protecting?
Estuaries are rich, productive coastal habitats where freshwater rivers and streams meet tidal areas. EPA Assistant Administrator for Water, Radhika Fox, said, “Estuaries provide unique recreational and economic opportunity to nearby communities while also cultivating wildlife and protecting our coastlines from flooding.” Of course, the ongoing threat of climate change means estuaries are facing more difficulties than ever before – rising sea levels are making it more difficult for wildlife to flourish and are putting these habitats at risk.
What Does the Program Look Like?
By funding projects through the grant program, the EPA hopes that communities can:
- Apply new or innovative approaches and technologies for the treatment, removal, and prevention of pollution before it enters estuary habitats
- Build sustained local capacity to protect and restore coastal watersheds
- Bolster resilience to the short- and long-term effects of climate change
A total of $18 million may be provided through these partnerships over six years, says the EPA, with the funding being subject to the availability of appropriations, EPA funding priorities, and the success of the program at large.
What is The NEP?
The National Estuary Program (NEP) is an EPA program that aims to protect and restore the water quality and ecological integrity of 28 estuary habitats around the United States. These habitats are at risk because of threats from climate change, habitat loss, and nutrient pollution. You can learn more about the NEP here.
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