Thursday, July 9, 2009

$3.4 Million is Awarded for Maunalua Bay Project

From Suzanne Case of The Nature Conservancy of Hawai'i (June 30, 2009):

It is with much excitement that I announce to you that TNC's proposed Maunalua Bay Reef Restoration project has been awarded $3.4 million by NOAA's Community-based Restoration Program under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (aka economic stimulus funding).

Through this 2-year award, this project will create an estimated 73 new full- and part-time jobs in Hawai‘i, removing the invasive alien algae Avrainvillea amadelpha (mud weed) as the critical first step towards restoring coral reef and seagrass habitat in Maunalua Bay. It is a distinct honor for TNC to have been requested locally to serve as the lead on this project, which we look forward to successful implementation on in partnership with Mālama Maunalua, TNC’s long-time local community conservation partner in the Bay.

The project is a scaling up of three years of volunteer efforts that have successfully removed more than 25 tons of invasive algae from Maunalua Bay. The cleared areas have remained free of algae, and there is growing evidence of the return of native species. This stimulus funding from NOAA will enable us to take this community effort to scale so we can begin to bring this once thriving bay back to life.

This award is one of several that have been made to the Conservancy for national coastal habitat restoration efforts that also create jobs. These successful TNC awards have been selected among intense national competition: over 800 proposals were submitted requesting three billion dollars in funding from only $170 million available.

This is a highly unusual project for The Nature Conservancy, as this funding does not go to support our current projects, but creates a new, direct, community-based project that TNC has agreed to manage. TNC will have one new staff person to oversee the project, and a minimal amount of the funding will cover TNC marine support and project administration. We welcome this opportunity because it is good for both the economy and the environment.

We believe that there is no better investment in our State than to improve the health of our near shore ocean, which is a source of food, recreation, and income for many. We consider this project to be among our highest priority conservation efforts over the next two years, and we are committed to see it through to its successful completion. Few conservation projects will ever receive the extraordinary level of national visibility and attention that this project will receive. Our commitment to this work reflects not only our belief in achieving lasting conservation impact through local partnerships with public support, but also the role of applied science in making management decisions and taking future conservation action. In particular, we are excited about the opportunity for this project to clearly demonstrate the direct connection between Hawai‘i’s economic and environmental health.

During the selection process, NOAA received over 800 proposals totaling more than $3 billion in requests for restoration funding, yet only $160 million in NOAA funding was available. The Nature Conservancy received funding for eight coastal restoration projects across the U.S., to restore and protect coral reefs, oyster reefs, seagrass beds, salt marshes, salmon streams, and floodplains. We are honored and humbled to be one of these projects, and would like to thank President Barack Obama, the Congress, the Hawai‘i congressional delegation, and NOAA for their support of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and for recognizing the importance and value of Hawaii’s reefs.

The writing and submission of this award proposal was a true team effort, with members from our marine and terrestrial teams, our financial management team, and our administrative leadership all contributing on what has been reported back to us by NOAA staff as among the very best proposals that were submitted nationally. I congratulate you all on this significant team achievement.



Congratulations all volunteers, community members, residents and agencies involved!!! Without all your dedication and hard work over the last year, this would not have been possible.

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