Over half of the Nation's population live and/or work in coastal communities located along the relatively small coastal margin of the country. These communities also are home to biologically rich estuaries and critical coastal watersheds. Coastal habitats provide essential functions such as nurseries for many commercially important fish and shellfish and protect communities from storm surge, stormwater runoff, and flooding. Stresses on these ecologically significant habitats have been increasing.
Reserves are well suited to map, monitor, and investigate habitat changes. Using this information, reserve staff develop, test, and implement strategies that protect habitat and support its function, including restoration of altered or damaged wetlands. Reserve coastal training and community education programs transfer the best management practices and strategies beyond the reserve boundary to the larger coastal watershed community further increasing the impact of Reserves’ work.
- Coastal wetlands are being lost at a rate equal to nearly 50,000 football fields per year, largely due to coastal development and inundation.
It is expected that current stresses on coastal habitats will be amplified by climate change causing greater habitat loss and alteration. By focusing on habitat protection, local reserves and the national Reserve System implement actions that result in resilient coastal communities better able to resist and recover from disturbance and storm events. These activities support NOAA’s vision of healthy ecosystems, communities, and economies resilient in the face of change.
-- Stedman, S. and Dahl, T.E. 2008. Coastal Wetlands of the Eastern United States: 1998-2004 Status and Trends.
-- National Wetlands Newsletter Vol. 40 No. 4 pg 18-20.
-- National Ocean Economics Program (NOEP). 2009. State of the U.S. Ocean and Coastal Economies.