The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association awarded grants to three projects affecting Alabama, two to The Nature Conservancy of Alabama and one to Restore America’s Estuaries.
The Nature Conservancy of Alabama will receive more than $27 million from NOAA towards two coastal Alabama projects — Coffee Island Restoration and Perdido Watershed Initiative.
“The magnitude of the amount of NOAA grant funds coming to Alabama is impressive, and we are proud of TNC and all Coffee Island and Perdido Watershed partners for their collaboration and shared vision in bringing such huge wins to our state,” said Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Commissioner Chris Blankenship.
The Coffee Island Restoration in Mobile has been awarded $14.6 million, which will be used to construct 5,000 feet of living shoreline breakwaters to protect Coffee Island in the Mississippi Sound and community shorelines in south Mobile County. This project will kick off in July and extend through the next four years. In addition to The Nature Conservancy and ADCNR, Volkert, the University of South Alabama and the City of Bayou la Batre are partners on this project.
The Perdido Watershed Habitat and Community Resilience Initiative has received $12.8 million to restore living shorelines and habitat along the coastlines of Baldwin County, Alabama, and Escambia County, Florida. The shoreline will help protect communities from flooding and storms, as well as prioritizing and planning for additional nature-based solutions. This also is a four-year, large-scale project that has multiple partners, including Baldwin County’s Perdido Watershed Initiative, the Pensacola and Perdido Bays Estuary Program, the City of Orange Beach, the Dauphin Island Sea Lab, Mississippi State University, Troy University, the University of South Alabama, ADCNR and The Nature Conservancy.
“It truly takes a village to enact change and to create better outcomes for the people and places in Alabama that matter to us all,” said The Nature Conservancy in Alabama Marine Programs Director Judy Haner. “The depth and breadth of these two projects and the seamless collaboration of our partners is what made the difference in how our initiatives here in Alabama stood out among NOAA’s almost $1.1 billion in total grant requests.”
The Restore America’s Estuaries is receiving $4.9 million to restore oyster reef habitat at multiple sites across the Gulf of Mexico, focusing on the resilience priorities of tribal and underserved communities. They will also develop the Gulf Regional Oyster Network, which will expand and enhance oyster shell recovery programs across the region. The GRO Network will collect oysters from restaurants, recycle them, and put them back in the environment at oyster reef restoration sites including those along Alabama’s Gulf coast.