May 2017: Updates from Capitol Hill

Representative Posey providing opening remarks at the Estuary Caucus briefing.

Greetings Friends and Colleagues:

Each month when we issue this newsletter, it is with the goal of sharing news but also to celebrate the good work being done throughout our watershed by so many partners. We like to think of it as our own version of the GoodNewsNetwork.

This month, we have some very good news to share about the FFY17 funding outcome that extends beyond PREP, to many of our other coastal partner programs.

As many of you know, there was concern earlier this years that the National Estuary Program, Sea Grant, National Estuarine Research Reserve and Coastal Programs would all be de-funded or sustain major cuts in FFY17. That would have meant very different things for each program, as our budget years are all a bit different, but in the end would have been devastating in many ways to our region and coast. Last week, Congress decided on a Continuing Resolution that allowed most of our programs to continue into next year (calendar year 2018) with critical work. The quick FFY17 summary is here:

  • PREP – 100% funding (begins October 1-September 30, 2018)
  • Great Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve – 100% funding (begins July 1-June 30, 2018). GBNERR contributes significant resources to monitoring and research in Great Bay and supports a unique education opportunity for students and adults both at their Great Bay Discover Center (Greenland) and in the classroom. They also provide access to significant sources of NOAA funding to help advance initiatives here in the coastal watershed.
  • NH Coastal Program (NHDES) – 100% funding (begins July 1-June 30, 2018). Subject to final approvals in Washington D.C. and G&C approval in NH, this translates to funding for community planning technical assistance, volunteer beach profiling, tidal crossing assessments, water quality monitoring, outreach and education, and improvements to the NH Coastal Viewer.
  • NH Sea Grant – 100% funding but only through September 30, 2017. Their FFY18 goes into effect October 1, and work on that budget is currently underway. Sea Grant funds a range of important marine research topics, support for local aquaculture, and innovative management trials that help support critical coastal economies.

Things will remain uncertain as to what the FFY18 budget will include for our programs. FFY18 goes into effect October 1, 2018 and we are all aware that it is likely to be a defining budget year for the administration. Down in Washington D.C. some positive signs are emerging that we hope will translate into the next federal budget; a new, bi-partisan House Estuary Caucus formed (Rep. Carol Shea-Porter was one of the first to sign on), and an estuary reception held last week and sponsored by Restore America’s Estuaries, Association of National Estuary Programs and National Estuarine Research Reserve Association was well attended by members of congress, their staff, NOAA and EPA agency staff, state program managers, and the media. There is a lot of strong support for the work we all do. Locally, we recognize it is incredibly important for us to continue to support the network of organizations that are doing education, outreach, research, monitoring in partnership with our programs and offering technical and financial assistance to coastal communities and businesses.

Thank you to everyone who has worked to encourage us during these uncertain times and for communicating the value of our programs to whomever is willing to listen. We appreciate your partnership and keep up the great work!

PREP is part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s National Estuary Program, a joint program between local, state and federal agencies established under the Clean Water Act with the goal of protecting and enhancing nationally significant estuarine resources. PREP is supported in part by an EPA matching grant and is housed within the School of Marine Science and Ocean Engineering at the University of New Hampshire.