America’s Conservation Enhancement Act signed into law with bipartisan support and unanimous consent

The America’s Conservation Enhancement Act, was enacted into law on October 30th, 2020, and reauthorizes the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) and codifies the National Fish Habitat Partnership (NFHP), which represent two of the most successful voluntary conservation efforts in the United States.

The NFHP is comprised of 20 individual Fish Habitat Partnerships, each focusing on improving fish habitat and aquatic communities at regional and local levels. The NFHP has supported over 1,000 projects supporting fish habitat in all 50 states since 2006. Annually, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service provides funding and technical assistance to the partnerships to implement aquatic conservation projects nationwide and is also supported by many federal, state, and local agencies as well as regional and national conservation organizations.

With the signing of the bill into law, the National Fish Habitat Partnership is authorized for the next five fiscal years (2021-2025) at $7.2 million annually. The National Fish Habitat Board will report to Congress, particularly the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation and the Committee on Environment and Public Works of the Senate, and the Committee on Natural Resources of the House of Representatives.  The law will also expand the NFHPB to 26 members to include representatives from private landowners, agricultural production, representative involved in fish habitat restoration, corporate industries, and a member of an active FHP.

Technical and Scientific Assistance funds are authorized to be appropriated for up to $400,000 annually to each of the following agencies: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, and U.S. Geological Survey in support of the National Fish Habitat Partnership. Within one year of enactment, the agencies receiving Technical and Scientific Assistance funds, led by the Department of the Interior, will develop an interagency operational plan outlining the implementation needs and interagency agreements.

A coalition of conservation organizations commended the sponsors of this bipartisan legislation for their commitment to fish and wildlife conservation: Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), Sen. Thomas Carper (D-DE), Sen. John Boozman (R-AR), Sen. Benjamin Cardin (D-MD), and Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) as well as Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA), Rep. Robert Wittman (R-VA), Rep. Joe Cunningham (D-SC), Rep. Marc Veasey (D-TX), and Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) in getting it to the President’s desk for signature during this Congressional session.

Carrie Byron, Puget Sound Partnership, Joins PMEP Steering Committee

We’re happy to welcome Carrie Byron, Puget Sound Acquisition and Restoration (PSAR) Program Manager at the Puget Sound Partnership, to the PMEP Steering Committee! Carrie manages a salmon habitat protection and restoration grant program that supports local priority and regional large capacity salmon recovery projects throughout Puget Sound. Before coming to the Partnership, she worked at the Washington State Department of Ecology, where she managed the Watershed Protection and Restoration Lead Organization grant from EPA’s National Estuary Program. Carrie has also served as the Marine and Nearshore Lead for EPA’s Puget Sound Team and coordinated the Department of Ecology’s Coastal Zone Management Program for five years, where she oversaw the state’s Shoreline Master Program Grants program. She has a Master of Marine Affairs and a Master of Public Administration from the University of Washington’s School of Marine Affairs and Evans School of Public Affairs, respectively, and a B.A. in English from Whitman College. Carrie lives in Seattle and enjoys practicing yoga, hiking, camping, and exploring the outdoors with her family in her spare time.

National Fish Habitat Partnership Releases 2019 Annual Report

The National Fish Habitat Partnership released its 2019 Annual Report highlighting progress on its mission to “protect, restore, and enhance the nation’s fish and aquatic communities through partnerships that foster fish habitat conservation and improve the quality of life for the American people.” Through the National Fish Habitat Partnership program, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and its partners provided more than $18 million to support 83 fish habitat conservation projects in 34 states. The Service provided $4 million in 2019, with state resource agencies, non-governmental organizations, and other partners contributing an additional $14 million. read the report here.

PMEP Partner Receives American Fisheries Society Rising Star Award

Evan Hayduk, Coordinator of the MidCoast Watersheds Council, was recently awarded the prestigious American Fisheries Society Rising Star Award, which recognizes outstanding early-career contributions in fish habitat conservation. Hayduk recieved a masters degree from the Evergreen State College in 2012 and since 2016 has worked with the Watersheds Council to restore fish habitat. He has overseen several large projects such as the North Creek Culvert Replacement, which restored over 13 miles of habitat with old growth forest for Chinook, coho, sea-run cutthroat trout, steelhead, and lamprey and the Yaquina Estuary Tidal Wetland Restoration project, which is currently under construction and will enhance 20 acres of tidal marsh habitat benefiting Chinook and coho. All Hayduk’s work focuses on restoring ecological processes that sustain the clean water and diverse habitats necessary for salmon and other fish and wildlife.

The award comes with $250 prize money to be provided to a Fish Habitat Partnership of the winner’s choice. PMEP has supported the MidCoast Watershed Council’s Yaquina Estuary Tidal Wetland Restoration Project and so Hayduk chose PMEP to receive the prize money.

PMEP Funds Five New Projects in 2020

PMEP is pleased to announce the following projects have been selected for funding through the National Fish Habitat Partnership.  These projects represent important conservation priorities of PMEP.  $192,817 has been awarded to the partnership through the Fish and Aquatic Conservation Program of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for the following five projects:

  • Seestrom Tidelands Restoration Project
  • Columbia-Pacific Passage, Hungry Harbor Restoration
  • Neskowin Fish Passage Improvement Project
  • Enhancement of Olympia oysters to provide heterogeneous habitat for fish and invertebrates
  • A regional scale assessment of fish habitat along the nearshore of greater Puget Sound

Read more about these and other PMEP funded project here.

Bear River Estuary Restoration included in 2020 Waters to Watch

PMEP-supported Bear River Estuary Restoration is included in the National Fish Habitat Partnership list of “Waters to Watch” for 2020. This annual list represents a collection of strategic conservation efforts implemented on rivers, streams, estuaries, and lakes to protect, restore, or enhance fish habitat. These voluntary, locally-driven projects represent some of the top conservation activities completed or in progress by 20 regionally-based Fish Habitat Partnerships throughout the country. These projects are carried out under the goals and objectives of the 2012  National Fish Habitat Action Plan. These conservation projects conserve freshwater, estuarine, and marine habitats essential to many fish and wildlife species. These activities are fundamental to the overall success of the National Fish Habitat Partnership that was established in 2006.

“The projects, which focus on the protection, restoration, and enhancement of fish habitats across the country, are a sampling of the top priorities of our partnerships,” said Ed Schriever, Chair of the National Fish Habitat Board. “The Waters to Watch campaign provides people an opportunity to learn about our projects in a more in-depth way, which exemplifies collaborative conservation involving many partners.”

The 2020 “Waters to Watch” list and associated Fish Habitat Partnerships

  1. Bear River Estuary, Washington (Retrospective) – Pacific Marine and Estuarine Partnership
  2. Boone River Watershed, Iowa (Retrospective) – Fishers and Farmers Partnership
  3. Chipola River, Florida (Retrospective) – Southeast Aquatic Resources Partnership
  4. Deep Creek Town Diversion and Warner Basin, Oregon (Retrospective) – Western Native Trout Initiative
  5. Maunalua Bay, Hawai’i – Hawai’i Fish Habitat Partnership
  6. Minsi Lake, Pennsylvania – Reservoir Fish Habitat Partnership
  7. San Juan and Santiago Watersheds, California – California Fish Passage Forum
  8. San Luis Obispo Creek, California – Pacific Lamprey Conservation Initiative
  9. Shoshone Springs, California (Retrospective) – Desert Fish Habitat Partnership
  10. Tularosa River, New Mexico – Desert Fish Habitat Partnership

 

Bree Yednock, South Slough NERR, Joins PMEP Steering Committee

PMEP welcomes Bree Yednock, Reserve Manager at the South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR), to its Steering Committee. Bree has been the Reserve Manager at the South Slough NERR since 2018 after serving as the Reserve’s Lead Scientist and Research Coordinator for four years. Before coming to the reserve, she worked for more than 15 years in the fields of science education and research at various non-profits, academic institutions, and agencies in Oregon, Maryland, Georgia, Maine, and Washington. Her research background ranges from field ecology to molecular biology and includes projects related to population genetics of fishery species, environmental adaptation in marine organisms, and estuarine habitat use of fish and invertebrates. She holds a PhD in Environmental and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Louisiana, a MS in Coastal Marine and Wetland Studies from Coastal Carolina University, and a BA in Environmental Studies from the University of Oregon.

 

Stephanie Messerle, BLM, Joins PMEP Steering Committee

PMEP welcomes Stephanie Messerle, from the Bureau of Land Management, onto our Steering Committee. Stephanie will represent BLM on PMEP, facilitating the sharing of data and support for fish habitat restoration and protection on BLM lands along the US West Coast. Stephanie is the District Fish Biologist for the Coos Bay Bureau of Land Management, located along the Oregon Coast. Prior to joining the Coos Bay District in 2007, Stephanie was a fish biologist for the Medford BLM. She also has worked for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and the National Park Service’s Biological Resource Division in Utah. Stephanie received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Environmental Science/Biology from Southern Oregon University. Stephanie grew up on the Southern Oregon Coast and is so happy to live there now. Outside of work she stays busy with her two sons and husband enjoying outdoor recreation activities and exploring the beautiful Pacific Northwest.

NOAA’s Bryant Chesney Joins PMEP Steering Committee

Bryant Chesney is a Senior Marine Habitat Resource Specialist with NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) West Coast Region and has worked on a variety of habitat conservation efforts since 2000. Currently, Bryant works in Long Beach, California, and focuses on marine habitat conservation in support of protected species and sustainable fisheries. He is particularly interested in seagrass and rocky reef ecology and conservation. In addition to marine habitat conservation, Bryant supports PRD’s efforts to conserve and recover sea turtles, abalone, and other protected marine species. Bryant works closely with regulatory agencies to provide conservation recommendations for coastal development projects that adversely affect estuarine and marine ecosystems in southern California. Specifically, he has experience with port/harbor development, aquaculture, shoreline protection, transportation, dredging, and fill projects. In addition, Bryant has worked with various partnerships to advance conservation and restoration goals by providing leadership, scientific expertise, and policy support. He has been involved with a number of seagrass transplanting projects and has assisted with studies related to the distribution, ecology, and fishery utilization of eelgrass and has helped advance the status of seagrass conservation and monitoring in California. He also played a significant leadership role in an important wetlands partnership, Southern California Wetlands Recovery Project.

Todd Zackey Joins PMEP Steering Commitee

Todd Zackey is the Marine and Nearshore Program Manager for the Tulalip Tribes Natural Resources Department and has been working for the Tribes for 17 years.  He manages the research and monitoring efforts for the department in the marine and estuary areas of the Tribes usual and accustomed area and is responsible for mapping, monitoring, assessing, and protecting the Tribes’ nearshore and marine resources on and off the Tulalip Reservation.  Todd has conducted and been involved in a variety of monitoring and research projects in the nearshore areas of the Puget Sound including water quality monitoring, mapping of intertidal habitat, studying juvenile salmon utilization of the Snohomish River estuary, pocket estuaries, and small coastal streams and monitoring the recovery of the Qwuloolt Restoration project in the Snohomish River Estuary.  Todd is an active member of the Island County Local Integrating Organization, San Juan Salmon Technical Advisory Group, and Co-Chair of the Island County Salmon Technical Advisory Group. Todd is excited to be part of the PMEP Steering Committee and learn about and contribute to efforts to protect, preserve, and recover fish habitat across the entire West Coast.