Congratulations to the New Coastal America Partnership Award Winners! Since 1997, the Coastal America Awards Program has recognized outstanding collaborative projects and excellence in leadership for protecting, preserving and restoring the nation’s coastal resources. Nominations are carefully reviewed by an interagency committee and approved by political leadership representing the White House. Selection criteria require that successful projects include at least one federal agency partner as well as one non-federal entity, clearly demonstrate the “value added” of the partnership effort, reflect an innovative or unique way of accomplishing stated goals and objectives with positive environmental results, and contribute to the accomplishment of Coastal America’s National objectives to restore and protect resources and to increase public awareness of the coastal and marine environment. To date over 110 teams (~2000 individuals) have been honored with this prestigious recognition at regional ceremonies. Four Partnership Awards were approved by the Principals group. The Musconetcong River Restoration Partnership, NJ (MRRP) Finesville Dam before, during and after construction. The Musconetcong River Restoration Partnership is a multi disciplinary team working to improve and restore the Musconetcong River in northwestern New Jersey. The MRRP includes private conservation groups, Federal agencies, State agencies, private landowners and others. Much of the work is focused on removing dams on the Musconetcong River, which supports Action H5.7 (Fish Passage Restoration) of the Delaware Bay Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan. In 2011 the MRRP removed the Riegelsville Dam remnants and the Finesville Dam, the first two obstructions upstream of the confluence of the Musconetcong River and the Delaware River opening 3.4 miles of migratory fish habitat. These dams are in Warren County, New Jersey. The Musconetcong is New Jersey’s largest tributary to the Delaware and is the longest undammed major river in the United States east of the Mississippi River. The watershed has been the subject of significant attention with regard to restoration of fish migration, including river herring, American eel, and striped bass. Partners include: USDA/NRCS, USFWS, Musconetcong Watershed Association, NOAA, American Rivers, North Jersey RC & D Council, Conservation Resources Inc., NJ Division of Fish & Wildlife, Trout Unlimited, NJ CWRP, and DOI National Park Service, MARIT. South San Diego Bay Restoration & Enhancement Project Team, CA The South San Diego Bay Restoration and Enhancement Project Team restored approximately 300 acres of estuarine habitats at the south end of San Diego Bay. The project was completed as a result of a collaboration of people and resources from 10 different federal, state and local agencies, and nonprofit organizations. The project restored a range of estuarine habitats representative of the historical coastal habitats that occurred in south San Diego Bay prior to the late 1800s. These include approximately 50 acres of shallow subtidal, 215 acres of intertidal, 15 acres of wetland/upland transition, and 20 acres of native upland scrub habitats. Habitats were restored on lands managed by the Port of San Diego or U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service National Wildlife Refuge, both of whom are committed to conserving the restored habitat in perpetuity. Project activities included: (1) excavation of degraded uplands to create intertidal and subtidal habitats, (2) dredging former salt ponds to create tidal channels and breaching the levees to restore tidal influence and associated habitats, and (3) establishment of native plant communities. The project provides benefits to migratory and coastal dependent birds, federal and state listed species, fish, and the local economy. Partners include: Port of San Diego, Southwest Wetlands Interpretive Association, California Coastal Conservancy, USFWS San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge, NOAA Restoration Center, USFWS Coastal Program, Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Coastal Program, San Diego Oceans Foundation, Ocean Discovery Institute, San Diego Audubon Society, Coronado Rotary Club. The Matanuska-Susitna Valley Coastal Conservation Partnership, AK The Matanuska-Susitna Valley (Valley) partnership is a broad-based collaborative of government agencies, non-governmental organizations and private landowners working to conserve coastal habitat in South central Alaska. The Partnership’s activity is guided by a habitat assessment of over 100,000 private land parcels in the Valley completed by the Great Land Trust in 2010. This assessment mapped, prioritized and ranked these parcels/habitats for their conservation values. In 2010 the participating groups prioritized several projects involving more than 6,000 acres of important habitat to permanently conserve for the benefit of fish, wildlife, migratory birds and current and future generations of Americans. The Partnership is well on its way to achieving this goal. Partners include: Great Land Trust, Alaska Department of Natural Resources, U.S. ACOE Port In-Lieu Fee Mitigation Fund, Eklutna Incorporated, U.S. FWS Coastal Program, Conservation Fund Alaska, Alaskans for the Palmer Hay Flats, AK Dept of Fish & Game, Pacific Coast Joint venture, Municipality of Anchorage, U.S. EPA, NOAA/NMFS, Joint base ElmendorfRichardson. Savannah Oaks Conservation Easement Project Team The Savannah Oaks Conservation Easement Team placed 710 acres of coastal wetlands, riparian and oak woodlands, and seasonally-flooded rice fields that provide functions and values comparable to natural wetlands, into permanent conservation. This effort marked the first time that the state of Texas issued a purchase of development rights agreement under the State’s Farm and Ranch Lands Conservation Program (FRLCP). For several years the group collaborated to map ecologically significant habitats and build relationships with respective landowners. In 2006, the Savannah Oaks farm was identified as one of several properties with conservation potential. In 2008, stakeholders established a funding plan, submitted a proposal to the newly formed FRLCP and the Coastal Impact Assistance Program (CIAP). In December 2011, Texas CEQ collaborated to directly award CIAP funds to make the project possible. Partners include: USFWS, EPA’s Galveston Bay Estuary Program, Texas Commission Environmental Quality, Texas General Land Office’s Farm and Ranch Lands Conservation Program, Ducks Unlimited.