Huffman Announces $6 Million for Elk River Estuary Restoration

Funding Part of Nationwide Investment in Coastal Resilience Projects

April 22, 2024

Today, U.S. Representative Jared Huffman (CA-02) shared the news that the Elk River Estuary has been selected by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to receive $6 million in federal funding for a large-scale habitat restoration project. This funding was made possible through the Inflation Reduction Act and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which Rep. Huffman helped pass.

“Our coasts are getting battered by climate change – and that has serious consequences for ecosystems, wildlife, and the communities that rely on healthy coastal habitats,” said Rep. Huffman. “This forward-looking project on the Elk River will upgrade vital infrastructure to increase resilience to sea level rise and protect habitat for the region’s iconic salmon. Projects like this are exactly what I had in mind while shaping Democrats’ historic legislation to invest in America and our future; and I'm glad I could help bring this funding home.”

“We're deeply grateful to NOAA's Coastal Zone Management program for their generous support, particularly as state funding diminishes. This award marks a pivotal moment in our mission to protect and recover wild fish and their habitats,” said Darren Mierau, North Coast Regional Director, CalTrout. “This award will allow us to transition from our engineering design phase with funding from the State Coastal Conservancy to implementing crucial coastal resilience projects on the Elk River. Through infrastructure upgrades, we will protect agricultural lands, restore vital habitats for native salmon, and enhance resilience against sea-level rise along Humboldt Bay's shoreline. Together, we're building a future where rivers thrive, and coastal communities prosper.”

The Elk River Estuary Restoration Project is the initial implementation step of a decades-long, community-based program to resolve legacy sediment and water quality impairment issues from excessive timber harvest, while also providing regional resilience to sea level rise and large episodic storm events. The project is intended to improve hydrologic and sediment processes, water quality conditions, and aquatic and riparian habitat functions in Elk River, ultimately reducing nuisance flooding in rural residential properties and agricultural land in this economically disadvantaged community. 

This project is a part of a nationwide $123 million tranche of funding across state and territorial coastal management programs and national estuarine research reserves.

“These transformational projects will not only bolster community resilience, but also ensure that innovations are fairly and broadly accessible,” said Jainey K. Bavishi, assistant secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and deputy NOAA administrator. “This significant increase in resources from NOAA will be essential in helping to build local infrastructure that is climate resilient, while providing essential benefits to businesses.”

These investments will complement and leverage other opportunities for habitat conservation and restoration, including funding through NOAA’s Community-based Restoration Program and the National Oceans and Coastal Security Fund. The restoration and conservation of ecologically significant ecosystems, such as wetlands, corals and natural shoreline, will help reduce the impacts of coastal hazards — including flooding and climate change — to property and infrastructure, and at the same time provide economic benefits to coastal communities.

Visit NOAA’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act websites to learn about current and future funding opportunities.