We are thrilled to announce that we have been recommended for $4.9 million in federal funding from NOAA Fisheries’ Office of Habitat Conservation (OHC) to support kelp forest restoration in and in close partnership with Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary.
Kelp forests are essential habitat for thousands of marine species. They are also critical for supporting fisheries on the West Coast. Since 2014, bull kelp forests along Sonoma and Mendocino County coastlines have declined by more than 90% of historic levels due to a combination of large-scale stressors.
The award, made under the Biden Administration’s Climate-Ready Coasts initiative funded through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and leveraged from the Inflation Reduction Act, will allow us to take critical next steps toward bringing this important habitat back and enhancing its resilience to climate impacts for future protection. The funding comes through the NOAA Fisheries’ Office of Habitat Conservation Transformational Habitat Restoration and Coastal Resilience Grants program. Greater Farallones Association will be working closely with OHC to implement the project.
“The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to helping California communities prepare for and recover from the ecological and economic devastation of extreme weather events,” said Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo in this NOAA news release. “This generational investment in climate readiness will help recover key salmon and kelp species, remove marine debris and litter, and strengthen wetlands that current and future generations of Californians will rely on for their quality of life and economic prosperity.”
The Greater Farallones Kelp Restoration Project has been and continues to be a highly collaborative effort involving local, regional, state and national agencies; tribal, nonprofit, and academic partners; and local fishermen and members of the community. Alongside the Sanctuary and partners, Greater Farallones Association will focus efforts on four key sites that have been identified with input from various experts and stakeholders as the most promising for recovery, including Fort Ross, Timber, Ocean, and Stillwater Coves in Sonoma County.
This project seeks input from local recreational and commercial fishermen to inform restoration methods through planning discussions, and will hire commercial divers to help with active restoration activities.
The project launched in 2018 with grants from the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, The Ocean Foundation, and Tomberg Family Philanthropies. Thanks to these initial investments, we have been able to take critical first steps toward preparing for active restoration, including creating the Sonoma-Mendocino Bull Kelp Restoration Plan, selecting key sites, developing practical techniques for enhancing recruitment of bull kelp, and more. With additional funding from NOAA, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Pacific State Marine Fisheries Commission, and National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, we are now prepared to move into exciting new phases of this project. See completed project activities and plans moving forward at Farallones.org/kelp/ and Farallones.noaa.gov/eco/kelp/.
The success of this vital and unprecedented effort will require additional funding going forward to ensure we are able to implement ongoing restoration activities, conduct essential research to inform best methods, and continue important outreach to affected communities. It is also imperative that we are able to continue close monitoring in the years following restoration activities and be prepared to continue efforts as long as are needed to restore this habitat in the Sanctuary. While we are thrilled with this influx of essential kelp-focused funding, it means we will need more and continued funding to support our organizational and program needs that are not covered by this grant.
We are grateful for the support from the Sonoma County community and beyond that has allowed us to grow this important project and give back by restoring this vital coastal habitat. This grant comes after strong advocacy efforts from California District 2 Congressional Representative Jared Huffman and his office. We are also grateful to the agencies and organizations that have supported this project both in current and earlier phases of the project.
See Farallones.org/kelp for a complete list of project partners and funders.
Photo credit: Steve Lonhart, NOAA