WASHINGTON (June 29, 2020) – Today, Audubon endorses the bipartisan Shovel-Ready Restoration Grants for Coastlines and Fisheries Act of 2020, introduced by Reps. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D-FL) and Don Young (R-AK), which will provide $3 billion in funding to support vital projects to protect and restore coastal ecosystems.
“This legislation is a win-win-win for our coasts,” said Karen Hyun, vice president for coastal conservation at the National Audubon Society. “These investments will not only create habitat for birds and other wildlife, they will also create jobs in fisheries- and tourism-dependent communities that have been devastated by the economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, and will protect coastal communities from sea-level rise and stronger, more frequent storms.”
Coastal birds are in steep decline due to climate change, development, overfishing, and pollution. Globally, seabird populations have decreased by 70 percent since 1950 and in North American alone, shorebird populations have decreased by 70 percent since 1973. Audubon’s climate report, Survival By Degrees, found that two-thirds of North American birds are threatened with extinction by climate change if warming continues at its current pace.
Investments in coastal restoration are critical to provide spaces for coastal birds to nest, forage, and raise their young, as well as to mitigate against the effects of climate change. Coastal ecosystems like wetlands and beaches provide natural flood protections for communities and reduce property damage and loss of life during extreme weather events, by absorbing floodwaters and breaking down the wind and waves of hurricanes and tropical storms.
Audubon also supports the bill’s focus on investments in vulnerable frontline communities, including low-income communities, communities of color, Tribal, and rural communities. Black, Indigenous, and other people of color are disproportionately impacted by extreme weather, due to racist housing policies, inadequate infrastructure, and a loss of subsistence fisheries and other culturally important coastal areas.
“Climate change is a threat multiplier that will exacerbate these underlying racial and social inequities. By prioritizing natural infrastructure investments in underserved communities, this program will help reduce climate risks in the areas that need it most.”
Additionally, some coastal ecosystems – like salt marshes, seagrass beds, and mangrove forests – provide important carbon sequestration benefits, removing up to four times more carbon from the atmosphere per acre than land-based habitats.
Coastal restoration also contributes to our economy. Nationwide, the restoration economy generated almost $25 billion in economic output and, in 2014 alone, supported more than 221,000 high-paying jobs, with average incomes of $75,000 per job.
The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow. Audubon works throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education, and on-the-ground conservation. State programs, nature centers, chapters, and partners give Audubon an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire, and unite diverse communities in conservation action. A nonprofit conservation organization since 1905, Audubon believes in a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Learn more at www.audubon.org and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at @audubonsociety.
Contact: Rachel Guillory, firstname.lastname@example.org, 504.708.5873