October 14, 2008

Whitehouse Honored for Commitment to Estuary Restoration

Providence, R.I. – U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) was recognized today by Restore America’s Estuaries for his work to focus attention on the needs of coastal and estuarine habitats.

The nonprofit organization gave Whitehouse, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, its 2008 “Coastal Habitat Restoration Champion Award.” According to the group, the award “recognizes an individual or organization who plays a leading role in helping to establish coastal and estuarine habitat restoration as a national priority, and displays leadership, dedication, and passion for protecting and restoring our nation’s precious estuaries.”

“We have seen what unchecked development combined with more severe storms can do to vital coastal regions,” said Whitehouse. “Restoring and protecting estuarine and coastal ecosystems in Rhode Island and around the country is one important way we can preserve our environment and our communities. “

Estuaries like Narragansett Bay are essential to the health of coastal environments and economies, serving as natural barriers and helping insulate fragile ecosystems and coasts from flood waters. The serious threats of climate change and potential sea level rise underscore the importance of restoring estuarine habitats, which can make coastlines more resilient to storm surges. Estuary restoration benefits local economies, supporting recreational activities and preserving unique coastal cultures. At least 75 percent of commercially and recreationally valuable fish species spend part of their lives in estuaries and coastal wetlands.

Whitehouse has made protecting and restoring coastal and estuarine habitats a priority in his first two years in Washington. Together with Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), Whitehouse fought to reauthorize the Estuary Restoration Act (ERA), which authorizes $2.5 million annually in dedicated funding for restoration projects. The measure became law in 2007 as part of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), a bipartisan bill that authorizes nearly $21 billion for essential flood control, navigation, and ecosystem restoration projects. Whitehouse is married to Dr. Sandra Thornton Whitehouse, who holds a Ph.D. in biological oceanography from the Graduate School of Oceanography at the University of Rhode Island and is a leader in developing oceans policy.

Restore America’s Estuaries is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that leads a national alliance of 11 community-based conservation organizations from the East, West, and Gulf coasts, including Save The Bay in Rhode Island. Since 1996, it has served as a leading voice and coordinating arm for coastal conservation groups across the country. Together, its member organizations boast a combined membership of more than 250,000 citizens.


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