This week, NOAA’s efforts to promote healthy habitat—which in turn advances coastal resilience, supports place-based conservation, and stimulates our economy—have been codified in the agency’s first NOAA Habitat Policy.
This Policy acknowledges the importance of habitat in NOAA’s programs and activities. It outlines a set of guiding principles that apply to all of NOAA’s habitat work and will be used to inform future agency actions and strategic priorities related to habitat conservation. NOAA’s Habitat Policy affirms NOS's management of special places like national marine sanctuaries, marine national monuments, and estuarine reserves.
NOS offices, particularly the Office for Coastal Management and the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, played a substantial role in the development of the Policy, which aligns closely with the NOS Roadmap. The Policy is consistent with our approach to place-based conservation and highlights resilience initiatives such as promoting green infrastructure.
Virtually every office in NOS plays a role in healthy habitats. For example, successful habitat restoration requires coastal intelligence such as accurate water levels, vertical datums, and bathymetry. We provide sound science to better understand ecosystems, from wetlands to coral reefs, and to inform the use of best practices for managing those ecosystems, such as the use of living shorelines and other “natural infrastructure” solutions. We also actively support NOAA’s Habitat Focus Areas. NOS co-leads efforts in the St. Louis River Estuary (WI/MN), Northeast Reserves and Culebra Island (PR), West Hawaii (HI), Kachemak Bay (AK), and Choptank River (MD), and plays a key role in work in the Russian River estuary (CA).
W. Russell Callender, Ph.D.
Acting Assistant Administrator for Ocean Services and Coastal
Zone Management, National Ocean Service