The Estuary Restoration Act
The Estuary Restoration Act (ERA) makes restoring estuaries a national priority.
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Current Chair
- Department of the Interior, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS)
- Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
- U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)
- U.S. Army (Army)
The original Estuary Restoration Act (pdf, 26 pages, 168K) was passed into law in 2000 to:
- promote a coordinated Federal approach to estuary habitat restoration;
- forge effective partnerships among public agencies and between the public and private sectors;
- provide financial and technical assistance for estuary habitat restoration projects; and,
- develop and enhance monitoring and research capabilities.
The Act established an interagency Council to carry out these directives, and required the Council to develop an Estuary Habitat Restoration Strategy. The Act also directed NOAA to develop monitoring protocols for estuary habitat restoration projects, and to create and maintain a national database of restoration projects.
In 2007 the ERA was modified via amendments to the Water Resources Development Act of 2007 (pdf, 3 pages, 36KB). The complete Act with incorporated amendments (pdf, 9 pages, 196KB) can also be viewed.
Significant changes in the Amendments:
- Allows the Army Corps to use cooperative agreements and contracts with project sponsors.
- Monitoring costs associated with an ERA-funded project may be included in the total cost of the project.
- Small projects are to be considered as those less than $1,000,000.
- The Secretary of the Army may delegate implementation of a small project to NOAA, USFWS, EPA, and NRCS.
- Requires reports to Congress every two years beginning in 2008.
- Authorizes $2.5 million each to NOAA, USFWS, EPA, and NRCS in fiscal years 2008-2012 to carry out restoration projects under the ERA.
Under the Estuary Restoration Act, NOAA developed and maintains a restoration project database, the National Estuaries Restoration Inventory (NERI), and established standards for restoration monitoring.
NOAA became Chair of the Estuary Habitat Restoration Council in 2009 for a three-year term.
- compiles project information for the restoration project database by working with other federal agencies;
- continues to refine restoration monitoring protocols as the science improves; and
- is currently developing metrics to determine the economic value and impact of restoration.