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Restoration Projects Could Be Key to COVID-19 Recovery for OR Coast

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A bill in Congress would create a $3 billion program for coastal restoration projects. (Iriana Shiyan/Adobe Stock)
A bill in Congress would create a $3 billion program for coastal restoration projects. (Iriana Shiyan/Adobe Stock)
July 1, 2020

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Communities on the Oregon coast could see sorely needed investments from an infrastructure bill now in Congress.

Jean Flemma, director of the Ocean Defense Initiative, said COVID-19 has hit the economies of coastal communities hard, with many fishing-related businesses losing their markets.

"A lot of fishermen themselves have found that they are having a hard time making ends meet -- making their boat payments, etc.," she said, "and in addition, coastal tourism -- hotels were shut down, restaurants have been shut down."

The Moving Forward Act would create a $3 billion program to invest in coastal restoration projects. U.S. Reps. Suzanne Bonamici and Peter DeFazio, both D-Ore., are sponsoring the bill. The House is expected to vote on the bill today.

Flemma said restoration work on Oregon's coast would help restore streams, coastal wetlands and tidal areas that are crucial for the habitats of salmon and other fish species. She said the work would have immediate benefits for the habitat itself.

"The long-term benefit is the restoration of the fishery itself, which generates jobs in the long term through commercial and recreational fishing opportunities, and tourism opportunities," she said.

A National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration analysis found that 15 jobs are created for every $1 million spent on coastal restoration projects.

Flemma said restoration projects would make coastal communities more climate resilient, as well.

"You also are reducing coastal flooding and other impacts from storm surges or high tides, or sea level rise," she said, "things that are becoming more severe and more frequent as a result of climate change."

She said another benefit of restoring tidal wetlands, sea grasses and other parts of the coast is that they are carbon sinks. That means they absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, helping to mitigate climate change.

The text of HR 2 is online at rules.house.gov, and the NOAA study is at repository.library.noaa.gov.

Disclosure: Ocean Defense Initiative contributes to our fund for reporting on Oceans. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - OR