Providing Technical Support for Habitat Restoration Efforts
NOAA Fisheries provides scientific and technical assistance to help plan, design, and implement effective and efficient habitat restoration projects in coastal and marine habitats across the country.
NOAA Fisheries works to restore coastal and marine habitat across the country where our fisheries and protected resources need it most. Our support of habitat restoration efforts encompasses more than just funding. We also provide technical support in navigating project planning and design, environmental compliance, project management, monitoring, and more. We use our depth of experience to help our partners overcome technical challenges and build solutions that boost fish populations, recover threatened and endangered species, and support resilient coastal communities.
Our Habitat Restoration Expertise
The NOAA Restoration Center is part of the NOAA Fisheries Office of Habitat Conservation. Our staff are experts from a diverse array of fields, including fisheries biology, engineering, project management, and natural resource economics. Their collective expertise spans every step in the restoration process, from project conception to completion.
More than 100 of our technical experts are distributed across more than 20 NOAA offices throughout the country. Because many of them live and work in the coastal communities we serve, they are uniquely positioned to offer support that is tailored to the needs of each community and ecosystem, and to help navigate hurdles that may arise.
Our staff work closely with partners to provide technical assistance on:
- Latest restoration techniques
- Feasibility of potential projects
- Regulatory requirements
- Other elements of project planning and implementation
We also provide support through engagement and outreach, relationship-building, and sharing lessons learned and best practices.
Building Effective, Efficient Restoration Projects
Whether we’re addressing dams blocking fish passage in New England, wetland restoration in Puget Sound, or coral bleaching in the Florida Keys, our staff has the experience and technical skills to overcome challenges and guide projects from start to finish.
By providing direct, specialized technical support, the NOAA Restoration Center helps build habitat restoration projects that are effective, efficient, and connected across an ecosystem.:
- Effective: We provide cutting-edge scientific and technical expertise that ensures the right habitat restoration projects are implemented in the right places to maximize benefits for fisheries, protected species, and communities.
- Efficient: We use knowledge gained from past projects to implement new ones, saving time and improving cost-effectiveness across the life of a project. At times, our experts can reduce the time it takes to implement a project by months or even years by helping partners navigate time-consuming steps like permitting.
- Connected across an ecosystem: We work side-by-side with local partners over many years, allowing us to build habitat restoration projects that connect across an ecosystem-level scale. These interconnected efforts result in more substantial benefits than an individual project on its own.
Our technical support also allows for the consistent implementation of habitat restoration projects across the country. Our methods and standards for restoration apply nationally—from the Alaskan coastline to the Gulf of Mexico—and are flexible enough to scale up or down as needed.
Supporting Partners Across the Nation
Our experts work alongside partners in their local communities—and often have for many years. This long-term engagement allows us to offer support that is tailored to the needs of each community and ecosystem, and to help navigate challenges that may arise.
Often, the majority of the work on these projects is preparation. We help streamline the process so partners can get their projects underway faster, and at a lower cost. Partners can rely on technical support from our staff in areas like permitting and engineering, allowing them to use more of the funding they receive directly toward on-the-ground habitat restoration in their communities.
Below, learn about a few examples of the technical assistance our experts have provided to partners from across the country.
Great Lakes Commission
The NOAA Restoration Center has partnered with the Great Lakes Commission (GLC) for more than a decade to restore habitat in the Great Lakes region. Much of this work has focused on restoring habitat in toxic “hotspots” known as Great Lakes Areas of Concern, including Muskegon Lake, the Buffalo River, and the St. Marys River.
In addition to providing funding support through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, we provide technical support for project planning and implementation. This has included:
- Identifying habitat needs and management techniques
- Assisting with regulatory compliance
- Providing guidance for funding applications
Our technical assistance has helped increase the capacity of the Great Lakes Commission to implement projects. It has also improved the quality and success of their projects, and allowed them to direct more funding toward on-the-ground restoration. Access to our specialized expertise has also allowed the Great Lakes Commission to save money by not needing to hire additional technical staff.
“All of the projects that GLC and NOAA collaborate on have been significantly improved through our close cooperation with our project management teams and local partners,” said Eric Ellis, project manager for the Great Lakes Commission's Coastal Conservation and Habitat Restoration Program. “If local partners had to do this work on their own, it is unlikely that the projects would be nearly as successful, if they were able to be implemented at all.”
Coral Restoration Foundation
The NOAA Restoration Center has partnered with the Coral Restoration Foundation for more than 20 years to support cutting-edge coral restoration efforts in the Florida Keys. Since 2019, the Coral Restoration Foundation has also been a key partner in Mission: Iconic Reefs. This decades-long effort will restore seven iconic coral reef sites in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.
Through our partnership, our staff have provided technical assistance on a broad range of topics, including:
- Identifying restoration goals
- Developing proposals
- Selecting project sites
- Providing guidance on permits
Our assistance has helped implement on-the-ground coral restoration work efficiently and effectively.
Snohomish County has been a critical partner on many of our large-scale habitat restoration efforts in Washington’s Snohomish River region. This work is helping make progress in the recovery of threatened salmon and steelhead, while also providing benefits like flood protection to local communities.
We have provided technical assistance to Snohomish County by helping to strategize on and prioritize projects. We also provided guidance for efficiently managing applications for funding opportunities. This support has helped Snohomish County:
- Simplify their methods for selecting projects
- Streamline their funding application processes
- Increase their capacity to implement habitat restoration projects
In addition, our staff have assisted with engaging local stakeholders. We help explain complex scientific topics and build trust among partners and groups who may not have worked together previously. Our involvement has helped encourage support among scientists and local landowners for efforts like the Sustainable Lands Strategy. The Strategy aims to implement habitat restoration projects that simultaneously benefit fish, farms, and flood management.
“Having NOAA Restoration Center staff involved over a long period of time has allowed us to develop important relationships and an understanding of locally-specific issues,” said Erik Stockdale, planning manager for Snohomish County Surface Water Management Division.
- Community-based Habitat Restoration
- Great Lakes Habitat Restoration
- Conducting Large-Scale Wetland Restoration in Louisiana
- Restoring Habitat After Oil Spills and Other Environmental Disasters
- Explore Thousands of Habitat Restoration Projects with the NOAA Restoration Atlas
- Tour 30 Restoration Projects Supporting Healthy Habitat and Stronger Communities