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Contractors finishing the Warren Creek restoration, which included installing a large culvert, in Humboldt County, Calif.
High resolution (Credit: NOAA)
Habitat restoration offers benefits we all enjoy, such as cleaner water and air, more resilient coasts, and more abundant fish, birds and other animals. It also provides financial benefits to local communities. Once considered the domain of scientists and environmentalists, habitat restoration has become a growing business that benefits the environment as well as the economy. And the NOAA’s Restoration Center is helping lead the way by restoring coastal habitat across the nation.
At NOAA, the Community-based Restoration Program and the Open Rivers Initiative have demonstrated many successes working with local organizations and communities to quickly and effectively implement habitat restoration projects of all sizes.
Through the Restoration Center’s Open Rivers Initiative, NOAA and its partners have helped fund the removal of dozens of obsolete dams and culverts, often employing local demolition crews and engineers. Its Community-based Restoration Program employs local crews to restore wetlands and estuaries, oyster reefs, mangroves and even clear marine debris – nearly 60,000 acres restored in the last 10 years.
Contractor installing a water diversion pipe on Warren Creek in Humboldt County, Calif.
High resolution (Credit:NOAA)
“It’s well recognized that restored coastal habitat provides new opportunities for businesses, cleaner water for our municipalities, healthier and more diverse native fish, wildlife and plant communities, and a clean and healthy environment. And the actual work associated with coastal restoration is also a significant source of green jobs,” said Peter Leigh, an economist for the NOAA Restoration Center.”
Restoration requires a wide range of people working on the early planning and assessment to long-term monitoring of restored sites. It employs those with a diverse set of skills, including laborers, restoration design engineers, restoration ecologists, landscape architects, hydrologists and botanists who work in nurseries that provide local seedlings and other plants for wetland and coastal restoration.
“It’s cost effective for us to hire a local crew,” said Leigh. “It doesn’t make sense for us to hire a company to travel with their equipment, and fly additional experts across the country. Often the expertise is right there in the community.”
Contractors pour the foundation of a new much larger culvert in Humboldt County, Calif.
High resolution (Credit:NOAA)
California’s Humboldt County recently tallied the annual investments in restoration and the numbers of restoration-related jobs that were created. In the last three years, more than $38 million came into the county for restoration projects, generating approximately 300 jobs. During this time, NOAA contributed more than $2 million to Humboldt County for more than 30 projects to restore rivers and open fish passages, helping to hire local heavy equipment operators, manual laborers, engineers, bridge suppliers and trucking companies.
For more information about NOAA’s coastal restoration efforts, visit the Restoration Center online.