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Federal grant funds restoration projects in NC wildlife refuges

060322 Lake Mattamuskeet.jpg
David Boraks
The Inflation Reduction Act funds will pay for restoring shorelines in federal and state wildlife refuges, like the Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge in Hyde County, in eastern North Carolina.

A $27.5 million federal grant is coming to eastern North Carolina to restore the Albemarle and Pamlico sounds.

The U.S. Department of the Interior says the money comes from last year's Inflation Reduction Act. It's part of $120 million in grants to help national and state wildlife refuges restore waterways and repair damage from severe weather made worse by climate change.

Rebekah Martin is a project leader with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service's Coastal North Carolina National Wildlife Refuge Complex.

"The funding is really intended to address climate threats," said Martin, who is based in Manteo. "There are a number of climate-related threats in the Albemarle-Pamlico estuary. And so the strategies that we're thinking about and talking about are really focused on nature-based solutions."

That includes restoring vegetation to reduce erosion along shorelines, creating substrate for oyster reefs to grow on, replacing drainage canals and reducing saltwater intrusion into inland forests, Martin said.

The grant is the largest ever for the Albemarle-Pamlico refuges.

"This is a lot. A whole lot," Martin said.

Martin said she expects to receive the funding this year, and that the money will fund the project through September 2026.

The Fish & Wildlife Service will work with local partners and officials, including the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission

"This project coming to funding is incredibly exciting, and (is) a result of the hard work that's been done by multiple partners working together," Martin said.

Nationwide, other grants are going toward landscape conservation and planning, grasslands restoration, grasslands restoration, bison management and supporting an endangered fish species.

"Communities across the country continue to face the devastating impacts of weather events made even more extreme due to climate change. The Inflation Reduction Act is a historic and transformational investment towards achieving President Biden’s ambitious goals to help American families and tackle the climate crisis," Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said in a press release. "These projects will increase the resiliency of habitats and infrastructure to withstand severe and unanticipated weather events, furthering our work to restore America’s natural infrastructure through nature-based solutions."


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David Boraks is a veteran journalist who covers climate change for WFAE. See more at www.wfae.org/climate-news. He also has covered housing and homelessness, energy and the environment, transportation and business.