Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced $20.5 million in grants to support 24 projects in 13 states to conserve and restore coastal wetlands and their fish and wildlife habitat. The grants, warded under the 2012 National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant Program, will be matched by nearly $21 million in partner contributions from state and local governments, private landowners and conservation groups.

“Coastal wetlands serve as some of nature’s most productive fish and wildlife habitat while providing storm protection, improved water quality, and abundant recreational opportunities for local communities,” Salazar said. “I am pleased that with these grants we are able to help our state partners implement some of their high-priority projects that support both conservation and recreation along their coasts.”

The grants will be used to acquire, restore or enhance coastal wetlands and adjacent uplands to provide long-term conservation benefits to fish, wildlife and their habitat. States receiving funds include Alaska, California, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Texas, Virginia and Washington.

The National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant Program is administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and funded under provisions of the 1990 Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection and Restoration Act. Funding is provided by Sport Fish Restoration Act revenue – money generated from an excise tax on fishing equipment, motorboat and small engine fuels.

Coastal areas comprise less than 10 percent of the nation’s land area yet support a significant number of wildlife species, including 75 percent of migratory birds, nearly 80 percent of fish and shellfish and about half of all threatened and endangered species.

A complete list of projects funded by the 2012 grant program can be found online at: http://www.fws.gov/coastal/CoastalGrants/index.html.