Erika Feller and Dr. Laura Petes talk about the National Coastal Resilience Fund | Coastal Conundrum
Coastal Resilience Grants are available now! Time to act.
Creating or restoring natural infrastructure can enhance coastal resilience for communities and ecosystems. One of the key sources of funding for this work is the National Coastal Resilience Fund grants program, which is jointly administered by the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Since 2018, the NCRF has awarded $90 million to enhance, build, or restore almost 17,800 acres of coastal habitat that have provided enhanced protection to 100,400 properties and 2,500 critical facilities. And right now they have a new 2021 Request for Proposals on the street. On this broadcast we’ll speak with Erika Feller, the Director for Coastal and Marine Conservation for NFWF and Dr. Laura Petes, the Manager of the Communities Program in NOAA's Office for Coastal Management, two of the principals of the program, about the program and the current RFP, how the grant program is evolving, some successes and more.
For more information here are links to the National Coastal Resilience Fund Program , the 2021 NCRF Request for Proposals, the Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management and the Digital Coast.
Bill O'Beirne 0:00
Well, hello, everybody. I'm Bill O'Beirne, your host for the coastal conundrum podcast as the podcast that explores the art of developing and implementing coastal policies and programs that strike a balance between coastal ecosystems, coastal economies and coastal communities in a dynamic landscape that is getting progressively more dynamic as a result of climate change. And as always, I want to thank the American shoreline Podcast Network for hosting this show. And today, we've got a great show. We're going to talk about the national coastal resilience Fund, which funds projects to enhance community and ecosystem resilience along the nation's coastline with the focus on natural infrastructure. And this is the joint program run between the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, which I will hereafter call NIFWIF because it's a mouthful, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA. and Today, I'll be talking to two of the principals administering the program. Erica Feller, the director for coastal and marine conservation for NIFWIF. And Dr. Laura Petes, the manager of the Communities Program in NOAA's office for coastal management. Before we dive into the conversation, here's a word word from the good folks that keep the shows on the air.
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Bill O'Beirne 2:08
So Erica and Laura welcome. And thanks for being on the coastal conundrum podcast.
Erika Feller 2:13
Glad to be here.
Laura Petes 2:13
Thanks for having us,
Bill O'Beirne 2:15
Erica, and then Laura, can you give our listeners a little background on yourselves where you work, how you got there, what you're doing these days.
Erika Feller 2:24
I'm the director like he said for coastal marine conservation at the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. I've been doing this for about four years. And my program includes the national coastal resilience fund. We also do a lot of work with NOAA on coral reef conservation, protected resources, and fisheries management are all areas where we partner with NOAA. And it was a long and winding road to get here, including work in a lot of different policy and program roles in government and also working with the Nature Conservancy for a few years.
Laura Petes 2:58
And I'm Laura and I have been at NOAA for 12 years, which is kind of hard to believe. I lead both day to day implementation of the national Coastal Zone Management Program, a state federal partnership with 34 coastal states and territories, as well as programmatic implementation of the national coastal resilience fund. And a marine scientist by training. I've worked in coral reefs, rocky intertidal ecosystems and estuaries particularly on oyster populations, and basically wanted a better sense of how to connect science and decision making and came to DC as a triple as Science and Technology Policy fellow got Potomac fever and had been at NOAA ever since.
Bill O'Beirne 3:47
Great. Well, thanks for for the background. And and some pretty interesting ways you guys got around to doing these programs. But right now, and I'll start with Erica, can you give our listeners a brief overview of the national coastal resilience fund? And you know, some of the key aspects what it does, maybe a little historical background?
Erika Feller 4:11
Sure. So the national coastal resilience Fund, which we have an RFP out on the street right now with pre proposals due April 7. This program started in 2018. And it was, you know, directed to NIF with by Congress through NOAA. And so that was where we and Noah kind of started working together to build this whole thing out. We started thinking about the lessons that NIF had learned in implementing the Hurricane Sandy grants and being part of that whole partnership and, you know, trying to build on a lot of lessons learned in previous resilient grant programs. And so in 2018, we worked it was pretty surprising. We got an RFP on the street and within God What was it a month, I think we had almost 200 proposals from people who had projects ready to go. And we tell people, Hey, bring us a design, you know, bring us a project where you want to get a project designed and ready to implement, get it to that shovel ready stage. Or if you've got something in the can, that's shovel ready, and you want to build it, bring that to us, we were kind of looking for both of those categories. And we, you know, put together a slate of about 44 projects in 2018. And so it's been an annual offering since then. And it's it's grown over the years, the way we kind of implement it, one of the things we realized going into the second year was when you think about planning and design of a project, there's really two key stages we need to think about the first is making a go no go decision. And then the second is the design and engineering. So we separated those instead, if you need to do an assessment, and you know, a site assessment and preliminary designs to make that go no go decision. Here's a category for you. And then people who are trying to get stuff to be implementation ready, will separate that. And then in 2021 of the things we saw over and over and over again, if we weren't getting projects from certain communities, and what we really found was that planning, communities kind of need to sit down and think about what they need to do, what are the risks they face? What are the what are their needs, and you know, put that plan together and think about what their capacities needs are. And then they can start to move projects forward. And so what we're really trying to get people to do through this is we want, we're looking for projects that can restore natural and nature based features that will reduce community exposure to coastal flooding risks, and also have a benefit for fish and wildlife. To get to projects that hit that Bullseye squarely we know we need to move people through this pipeline. And so that's how the program is really set up. It's like you can come in, you can do planning, you can move a project to that go no go decision, you can design, do the design and engineering and get ready to get your permits, or you can come in and you can build something
Bill O'Beirne 7:09
great. Laura, did you have anything to add to that?
Laura Petes 7:11
Yeah, sure. So I think just another important note is that the national coastal resilience fund, was was put in place, basically building also off the work and history of the NOAA coastal resilience Grants Program, which I've been running for a few years previously to ncrf. And, and actually, some of the investments through that program have now those projects have evolved and matured and come in through ncrf. So we see sometimes that direct pipeline of projects that are building up those previous NOAA investments. And, you know, like Erica said, One cool thing about ncrf is that these projects have to have both ecosystem and community resilience benefits. So it can't be a project that just has fish and wildlife habitat benefits. It has to have those benefits and also enhance the resilience of that community, whether that's protecting a critical evacuation route, or a power plant or an airport, or in some cases, a cultural heritage site. So I think it's just nice that these these projects really address that intersection and highlight the connectedness of ecosystem and community resilience.
Bill O'Beirne 8:26
Well, that's great. They've got a it's a multi objective program. And Erica, is it right that you guys have roughly 30 to $35 million a year? And but could you tell me about the dollar level of proposals that you get? Is it? Is it at that level? Or is it higher?
Erika Feller 8:47
Sure. So the first year, we had about $30 million this year, the appropriations for the program, we're at 34 million. And, you know, part of NIF Swift's role here is to build partnerships with other funding partners. So we've also got to leverage NOAA as investment in this. We also have partnerships with other federal agencies and with companies that put money into the program as well. And it's, you know, one of the cool things about the program is we're seeing the scale of the projects change. When we started this, we were like, we want to we want to invest in projects that are going to have an impact at a meaningful scale for communities like there's been pilot projects are critically important. But we need to move beyond the pilot stage. You know, communities are facing these risks on a regular basis. And we need to kind of figure out how to do implementation at scale. And so like the first year, I think probably the biggest I can't even remember what the biggest project we had, but it was maybe a couple million dollars. When we got to the 2020 grant slate we had several projects at the $5 million scale. So I think as people are starting to think and plan And count on this funding opportunity year over year, we're seeing the scale of projects, we're seeing communities ambitions and interests really start to kind of grow to where we want it. We're really excited to help them get to.
Bill O'Beirne 10:13
Great. And, Laura, I've, I've noted that this in some of the literature about the program, you talk about a regional focus. Could you talk about that a little bit?
Laura Petes 10:28
Yeah. I mean, I think the most important thing here that that, you know, we collectively try to take seriously is the need for regional diversity and geographic diversity of projects. And also, you know, different types of projects, making sure there's a nice spread of kind of planning, design, site assessment and implementation work. And I think there's been a lot of success there that, you know, we're seeing projects come in from from all regions and a number of states and territories. And, you know, where there haven't been as many projects submitted before, we're kind of taking a hard look at those areas and seeing what's needed to help those communities come in and be competitive. So I think there's been a lot of success there. And it's, it's pretty cool to have a program that, you know, supports work from Alaska to Michigan, to Florida and everything in between.
Bill O'Beirne 11:21
Yes. So it That's great. I'm also It looks like you guys have had a good deal of congressional support. So it could I say that pretty accurately the that's bipartisan support for this program.
Erika Feller 11:34
Yes, absolutely. I think there's a lot of members that we've heard from that are, you know, seeing these issues going on in their districts and in their states, and they're hearing from their constituents about them? And, you know, we're trying to administer this program, like, recognizing that and being responsive and meeting those communities where they are. So yeah, I think I think, focus on health and pretty happy with what we've been doing.
Bill O'Beirne 11:58
Okay, um, Erica, it seems that it's obvious that you've got other partners that are providing funds for this. Do you also require recipients to to match those funds?
Erika Feller 12:11
Yes. So part of my NIF was created was to you know, facilitate helping, you know, getting federal funds on the ground to conservation projects, but also to leverage federal investments in conservation on the ground. And so we do that in a couple ways. One is by building partnerships. So currently, this program has, you know, in addition to our partnership with NOAA, we started out like the first year shell and trans rejoined as partners on this program, both companies making investments in the funds that go into grants. And today, we in addition to shell, and translate, and NOAA, we have the US Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Defense, at&t and Occidental Petroleum are all partners at all investing in the grants portion of the program. So that helps to leverage the money that Noah puts in. In addition, we match Noah as money overall. So we have to match the $34 million that Noah is putting into this program. And we exceed we communicate to applicants that a one to one match is expected, which is consistent with, you know, near flips, authorization, and all this other kind of stuff. But one thing we recognize with this program is that, you know, we don't want match to be a barrier to a good project, match definitely makes the project more competitive. And I think there's some reasons that match is helpful, like, you know, it's it's a really good indicator that you have a broad based partnership that you have local investment that our grants are typically, you know, 234 years, and we invest in things that go on into the future match gives us some idea that that stuff's going to happen, and that we're going to make a sustainable investment. But we also don't want that to stop worthy projects from going forward. So, you know, we have some flexibility built into the program to work with applicants who may be struggling with match and help them figure out how they can move a project forward.
Bill O'Beirne 14:10
Well, that's really great. Because I know that there may be some areas of the country that are struggling, maybe more than others. And Erica, you had mentioned briefly that there is a request for proposals for the program that's out on the street right now, is would you like to say anything else about that, where people might want to look to try to find out information?
Erika Feller 14:33
Sure. There's a couple things I want to say about it. The first is that you can find it on our website at www dot NIF with.org slash coastal resilience, which ought to be kind of intuitive. There's a ton of information on there. In addition to the request for proposals, there's a webinar that we recorded that includes all kinds of information that will be helpful to anyone looking to apply for a grant From NIF with, there's information on how to write a budget narrative, how to put together a good proposal. The other thing that's important to know is that there is a footprint for the National coastal resilience fund, we're looking to invest in places that are susceptible to coastal flooding risks. And so we target these grants to basically basically coastal watersheds and you know, nearby, coastal pockets, and then adjacent low lying areas. So if you go in there, there's also a map that you can go click on it, it's under the program information tab, you can click on this map, you can type in the name of your community, and find out if your community is within the footprint that we're looking to invest for ncrf. There's, you know, there's a lot of tools and resources, it's also I would encourage people to look at what we funded in the past and all of our past grants slates are posted. And I find a lot of those projects to be really great inspiration to see the really cool stuff that a lot of communities are doing as they try and wrap their heads around these risks and different solutions.
Bill O'Beirne 16:08
Great. And speaking of the cool stuff, Laura, I'll start with you. Can you describe some of the more innovative, interesting or successful projects, some of the cool stuff that you guys have funded so far. And Erica, please jump in afterwards?
Laura Petes 16:29
Sure. Thanks, Bill. Innovation is a really important part of ncrf. And just as an example of innovative projects, there's some really interesting and important work coming out of the coral restoration field. So, and Sarah has funded projects in Hawaii and Florida, for example. And some of those build off, you know, smaller scale, experimental research and management techniques, and planning efforts, and now are leading to larger scale, you know, in the water restoration. I think one thing that's particularly innovative about these projects is that they're designed themselves to be resilient to future change. So, for example, they are selecting corals that are temperature and disease resistant, or resilient to then out plant onto the reef, with the thought being that if you select the corals that are more likely to live, then the restoration effort is more likely to be successful, and will provide those protective benefits to the community as well as the important habitat benefits for the ecosystem. So I think you know, the coral community is doing some really important and innovative work partly because they have to, because that's sort of the state of affairs for coral reef ecosystems at this point. And there's a lot of emphasis on restoration as a result of the coral declines that are happening around the world. So that's just one example. I don't know, Eric, if you have another one to share.
Erika Feller 18:04
Yeah, I mean, one, one thing I would just throw out there is this program is at this point, just entering its fourth year, so we haven't had a ton of construction projects close yet. So people are still doing the work. But I will say on the score of what I see success as success is, as I was talking about before this pipeline approach to projects, you know, we want to see we want to meet communities where they are, help them figure out what their needs are, how to design a project to actually address those needs, and then help them implement it. And we are seeing a number of projects where that's happening. You You know, we've had, we have communities like Laura talked about places where Noah has invested previously that are moving forward under the National coastal resilience fund. I would point to the community of Brookhaven on Long Island, which was a community that was impacted by Hurricane Sandy. They used funds made available by Congress under Hurricane Sandy to start thinking about, you know, their coastal flooding risks. We funded them under the National coastal resilience fund, to do site assessment and preliminary design and now they're moving forward into designing an engineering or Resilience Project for their community. And to me, I just think that's really exciting is that idea of being able to work with a community as they take these steps going forward. And another one like that is you know, work that's going on in the city of Jacksonville. We've got a grantee down there groundwork Jacksonville that has a really successful partnership with city of Jacksonville works with a lot of communities. They did a project to design a resilient strategy for McCoys Creek running in through the city of Jacksonville and in 2020, the city of Jacksonville actually came back and applied for funds to implement The project that their partner helped them to design. And that one I just I think is really interesting because there you have a public private partnership where you have one partner kind of doing the one phase they're well suited to, and then the comete, the city itself, which I think is probably got more capacity to actually implement coming in for the next phase. And we're seeing more and more of those projects over time, which I think is really exciting. And the one of the kinds of success I was hoping for.
Bill O'Beirne 20:29
So Erica, as far as eligible applicants. So as I understand that there's state all the way down to local governments, as well as private, private sector, recipients, and NGOs is are there others that are also eligible for that for those programs?
Erika Feller 20:51
Yeah, that's, that's correct. State and local government are definitely eligible universities, nonprofits, for profit companies, like you know, engineering firms and, and the like, have have all been successful applicant, really, the only entities that are not eligible federal agencies, and, you know, foreign entities are not eligible under the ncrf. But, you know, the focus of the program is really on us coastal communities.
Bill O'Beirne 21:21
And when you say us that also, I mean, that does include the territory is correct,
Erika Feller 21:26
it does include the territories. And thank you, Bill for reminding me of one of the other successes is that we have now had a project in each of the US, we have now funded a project in each of the US territories. So Laura was talking about wanting really good regional distribution, we're really excited that we have also had projects go forward in the Marianas Islands, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.
Bill O'Beirne 21:55
You talked a little bit about how the program evolved from just sort of planning and design to build, are there other changes that the program is has gone through over time,
Erika Feller 22:07
one of the innovations we added this year, the overall structure of the program for 2021, matches up pretty well with 2020. So there are the four categories in the pipeline that you can apply under. One of the things we added this year, that I think is going to be really, really helpful is we're really interested throughout the program, Laura mentioned at one point, the importance of stakeholder involvement, like from the very beginning, we have included stakeholder engagement at every stage in the pipeline as an important component. You know, we don't necessarily want to fund a project that is only stakeholder engagement, but we sure want to see that as part of the projects that go forward. But one of the things we're asking people to tell us a little bit more about now is like how are they going to engage people so we can, you know, we understand a lot about where the projects are happening, what's going, you know, what sort of the demographics of the community are, where they're happening. But what we really want to understand more from our grantees is how they're working with different communities. And really getting that engagement, figuring out what people's needs are, and you know, helping to move forward on that basis. So this year, we're asking for a little bit more information on that. The other thing that's new this year is, so for our risk for our restoration projects, those are called restoration and monitoring projects, because we do include funding for monitoring, and we have kind of monitoring templates for different habitat types that we find. So if you apply for like a dune restoration project, there's monitoring template, and here's a few things that we want. And the idea there is to allow us to be able to evaluate the impact of those projects on exposure, at some point in the future, which is really important to us, because you asked about success, part of success is that you're actually mitigating exposure to flood risks. And this year, we added new monitoring template for coral reef projects. So we're also going to be able to monitor those projects that are in water, excuse me, not just the ones that are on the coasts.
Bill O'Beirne 24:12
Great. And Erica, do you have any of the projects that have tried to to start to think about how to monitor the actual flood reduction effects or impacts if there were to be a storm or whatever that came through that area? Has that has? Has anybody suggested that?
Erika Feller 24:35
So it's a component of a lot of projects. I'm struggling to think of a specific example right now. It from part of what NIF with and Noah are working on together, is we want to understand what that impact on flood risk exposure is. And so that's the reason for the monitoring component of the restoration and monitoring one of the bits feedback we got from evaluating previous grant programs is, you know, we can, evaluators said, Hey, we can look at these impacts, we need to get access to data. And, you know, making sure that data is collected in a consistent manner. And that it's, you know, available at, you know, some point five, six years down the road, is really important to be able to get a picture of that. And so we built that into the national coastal resilience run from the very beginning. Here's the data we think we're going to need. We include that in the project budgets, you know, we've kind of designed a monitoring approach that most grantees can can definitely participate in or identify a partner to do that. And so at the other end of this, what we want to be able to look at is that impact on exposure, being able to kind of look at a particular intervention model, you know, under a given set of storm conditions, what might it do in terms of reducing flood risk, and then be able to see how that benefits the community. But that's work that's still underway, something we're still trying to figure out.
Bill O'Beirne 25:57
Great. Appreciate that. Laura? This is a good partnership between Noah and NIF. How does the partnership work? Can you just talk a little bit about the different roles that you guys have?
Laura Petes 26:12
Yeah, sure. So Noah, I mean, the nuts and bolts is that this is a cooperative agreement between Noah and NIF with, or a series of cooperative agreements between Noah and NIF with to execute the program. In terms of the actual though, like how the partnership works, we work very, very closely together very closely together. So the NOAA staff and the NIF staff are in daily communication, and work regularly together and sort of strategic brainstorming around the program and its execution and vision. I think I'll share a little bit about, you know, where I see no of bringing expertise to the table. And we'll then turn it over to Erica to chime in on the NIF website. But I think it makes sense that these are the two sort of primary entities who were given responsibility of administering the program. Noah brings deep technical expertise, a very deep bench, around resilience in terms of the science around climate and coastal impacts in terms of connecting decision making and science. Around resilience. We have efforts like the digital coast platform that helped to serve up coastal tools and information and data and training for folks on the ground. We have extensive engagement with communities across the nation around community resilience, we have people in regions who are providing that technical assistance, and we have responsibilities in terms of stewardship of coastal and ocean resources. So I think, you know, again, NOAA brings that both community and ecosystem resilience knowledge, as well as, as, you know, grants administration and program management knowledge to the table for ncrf. Erica, do you want to share any thoughts on the on the flip side?
Erika Feller 28:06
Sure. Yeah, I mean, from nifflas standpoint, I mean, all, there is so much about partnering with Noah that we value. And I think what we're adding to the mix here is, you know, similar, we have a deep bench and a long history in conservation grant making in the areas where this program touches down. And so, you know, we we work closely with NOAA, you know, also with kind of their regional leads in ocm, as well as in the National Marine Fisheries Service, to draw on their expertise about what gets what ought to get funded. But we also have partnerships with the Fish and Wildlife Service, and EPA, and lots of other entities out there, as well as relationships with a lot of these grantees. And so, you know, we're what we're kind of bringing to the table is also a lot of knowledge and experience in managing restoration grants, and figuring out like how to invest in, you know, for impact moving forward, so that we can, you know, try and Marshal all of our efforts to having the greatest impact on the landscape going forward.
Bill O'Beirne 29:07
Great. And, Erica, earlier, you had talked about giving us a little bit of idea of what some of the other non NOAA partners are bringing to the table, which is some funding. And could I was just curious about your partnership with God, who are you working for with Ed God? And and how is that partnership going?
Erika Feller 29:30
So Congress amended the ODS rebbi authority, I think last year to also allow rappi investments to address coastal resilience and or resilience and coastal flooding risks and stuff like that. And we've actually funded a few projects around bases, even before we started partnering with God because, you know, military bases are communities in and of themselves and God has a lot of facilities that are on the coast and are really important for a lot of reasons. And they're facing the same risks that other coastal communities are. So you know, we've had a couple of investments, I think around, oh, gosh, Naval Weapons Station Earl in New Jersey, and as well as in Georgia. And so we're partnering with the DEA, frankly, to, you know, do more of that, and hopefully be able to scale that up. So, you know, do these putting funding into the partnership that'll enable us to work more with, particularly with God installations around the coast and under rappy. You know, this is where God is trying to work, where the bases are also trying to work with the surrounding community do stuff on base, as well as off base that's going to address the needs that they have in those areas. So you know, it's a bit of a new thing to have them be part of the partnership, but they definitely have some really good ideas about what they know, that they need. And they've got some, you know, really motivated, knowledgeable folks on the ground. So we're expecting to see some really interesting projects, particularly around do D facilities.
Bill O'Beirne 31:05
Well, well, cool. Erica, you've talked a little bit about kind of monitoring and, and determining the success of specific projects. How are you identifying and measuring and communicating the success of the program? Overall, I know that when you have congressional funding, those congressional folks we're always looking for. So what am I getting from my book? So could you talk a little bit about that? How you're, you know, how you're defining success and measuring?
Erika Feller 31:39
Sure. I mean, in the long term, we are defining success, as have we reduced exposure of communities to coastal flooding risks, and have we improved habitat for fish and wildlife species, it's gonna take a while to see those kinds of benefits come out of our investments, but we're building, you know, building the stages right now to be able to do that on into the future. And that's a big part of what we're working on with Noah. I think today, what we're really looking at in terms of like, are we heading in the right direction? Are we seeing projects move forward through the pipeline? Where have we seen grantees come back, you know, state, you know, for one stage than the next stage, the next stage, we're definitely starting to see that which demonstrates the, I think, the that we're on the right track, in terms of the approach to the program. I think seeing the geographic spread of the projects, we want this to be something that gets more communities, thinking about how nature based features can contribute to how they're thinking about resilience for their communities, and we're definitely seeing more engagement from more communities across the US. And I think definitely adding the capacity building and planning phase is gonna, you know, help do that. Even more. I think we're also seeing, you know, seeing the success of a single project. Some of these projects may be big, but still within the larger context, they're small. And so you know, what we probably also want to look at look at is, you know, where are there places where there are multiple interventions? And how are those kind of working together to reduce the risk for the community, we can definitely look at the impact of a single project, that is something we're absolutely working on. But I think also overall, what we really want to understand is how are all these projects and all these investments working together, in order to contribute to you know, what the community's goals are, that the community is, you know, safer, has reduced flooding, reduce residence time of flooding, whatever it is that they're looking to have happen. The other thing that we're hoping for, and I think we're starting to see this, one of the ways we set up the community capacity building and planning projects is, you know, the other three phases are really about a project in a place, but community capacity building and planning is much more about the community. And what we said is, look, you you can go through a planning process and come up with a list of nature based features that you want to move forward and figure out if you should implement them. That's great. That's absolutely something that would make us very happy as an outcome of that grant. But what would make us really extra happy and very excited is if you take this planning and capacity building opportunity, and maybe think a little bit more broadly about what's going on in your community, like maybe maybe you want to come back to the national coastal resilience fund. Maybe you want to go work with FEMA, maybe you want to go work with the Economic Development Administration, maybe you want to go work for work with some state source of funding that can address these kinds of needs. Coming up, we've seen some projects come forward with really multifaceted approaches to thinking about resilience. They're applying for grants where they're looking at nature based features, but they're also saying, gosh, you know, these things are going to contribute to our future economic development. We've got other habitat restoration ideas, you know, they've got, they're sort of embedding resilience into a larger community planning initiative. And so that plan is actually going to help them be much more strategic and think about a lot more partnerships than just coming back to us. And that, you know, the more projects we see like that, I think that's going to be a real sign of success is that's really going to open up the capacity these communities to get at some of these, some of these challenges that they want to solve.
Bill O'Beirne 35:36
That's really good. That's a great point to make. And, Laura, did you have anything to add to that, from your perspective, as far as success or communicating success?
Laura Petes 35:47
Yeah, I agree with everything Erica said. And it's kind of amazing to see success in only a few years of the program. So it was just a testament to how great these projects are, and how much of a demand there is on the ground. I think, just a few, you know, NOAA connected examples. For example, the city of Virginia Beach got an ncrf grant this year, that builds off some work they did under a NOAA coastal resilience grant to support planning and prioritization of resilience projects. And that planning investment is now leading to specific projects like this one, where they're doing some interesting Marsh terrorist design and permitting work that's innovative. And we'll have ecosystem and community resilience benefits. There's also a project and capacity building project through the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, that's going to support planning in 44 Alaskan communities. So sometimes we see small scale capacity building projects that are focused on one community, that tends to be more of the case, but this is going to address 44 Alaskan communities. And it helps it it leverages some some previous work that a NOAA digital coast fellow did, working with Alaska on developing new techniques to analyze and communicate flood risk. So anyway, it's just nice to see these threads coming together. And like Eric has been saying throughout this podcast, meeting communities where they are with their resilience needs through this program. Well,
Bill O'Beirne 37:18
I know that it definitely takes a while for some of these programs to to be able to demonstrate success, I was involved in some nonpoint source programs that probably took 20 or so years to demonstrate success. But one thing that and I you said something that made me want to come back to this, Laura, talking about demand, and I was I think earlier, I was I was looking are talking about you guys put out roughly 30 to $35 million a year, what what do you get from the demand side? What are what do you get in dollar value of proposals that are submitted, I'm assuming it's a bit more than the 35 million.
Erika Feller 38:03
Laura Petes 38:03
I don't have the stats handy. Maybe Eric does, but a lot more. Bottom line is a lot more demand a lot more requests than the program is currently able to support. And, you know, that makes it competitive, which means that the projects that are selected are really cream of the crop. And I know NIF with, you know, tries to give feedback to applicants who aren't successful the first time and hopes that they can strengthen the proposal and try to come again the next year. So but you know, as, as we've said to the program has grown in investment, and that has helped to some degree meet the demand. But also, you know, we see the demand increase every year.
Erika Feller 38:45
Yeah, if I can pile on that bill. In 2020, we got requests for six times as much funding as we had available. We ended up funding 44 really great projects. I mean, things that we're really excited about that I think this is definitely a mark of success is that there is so much demand out there, we're seeing these new to increase over time. But the program is really competitive. And, man, it is it is hard to decide there are a lot of really great projects that do not get funded. And so you know, we we provide feedback to people who were unsuccessful to help them strengthen their applications and encourage them to come back the following year. And yeah, that's kind of the advantage of having a program that we can offer annually, is that it kind of provides some you know, it shores people up, it gives them some confidence that there's some place that they can go back to for future funding so they can think big and know that there's going to be someplace where they can go to get to get their projects funded in the future.
Bill O'Beirne 39:50
Great. Yeah, and I think that really is a sign of success when you've got six times the demand. That's that's pretty impressive. So, if I could ask you, Erica to look into your crystal ball and tell me what stocks I should short, no, no, no, no. What if you could look in your crystal ball and tell me? What might the future hold for the coastal resilience fund? Anything that we can kind of look out over the horizon and see coming?
Erika Feller 40:26
I'm glad you're not asking me for stock advice, that would not be good. You know, I hope that we have a program that continues, can continue to build and serve communities and, you know, move forward nature based features at at scale. I think the thing I really, you know, that I kind of hope for audit to the future is that we can continue to explore how this program can connect to leverage, enhance community's ability to access and work with other programs as well. Like if we fund a project that can serve as sort of a focus in a particular community and get the attention of other funders who say, oh, okay, we get what you're doing, we want to invest more, you know, that That, to me is success. It's not just what we're able to do under this program. But I think it's what we're able to do under this program, and connections with others who are working in this space to really like increase interest and attention and successful implementation of nature based features as part of how communities are dealing with these risks. Because I think it's an important part of it. There's a lot of benefits, besides just the exposure and habitat benefits. So that's, that's where I hope we can go into the future.
Bill O'Beirne 41:44
Great. And Erica, would that be like programs such as like, I think the Army Corps has that design with nature programs, things like those types of programs?
Erika Feller 41:53
Sure. Absolutely. And Laura,
Bill O'Beirne 41:56
can I get you to look into your crystal ball, anything from your from Noah's perspective.
Laura Petes 42:05
I mean, the future's so bright, I gotta wear shades. But seriously, I think it's, it's nice to have a program that's been so consistently successful in its first few years, but seems to grow, in terms of demand, and in terms of partnership and collaboration. And that really helps diversify the types of projects and increase the number of communities that are served through this effort.
Bill O'Beirne 42:31
Great well. So this has been really, really helpful. And I again, I just want to make sure that everybody knows that there is an RFP out on the streets. But I'll turn to Laura first. And then Erica, Laura. Any last thoughts that you have that you'd like talk about the program?
Laura Petes 42:53
Yeah, thanks for asking Belen. And, again, for having us today. I mean, I think, you know, we spent a decent amount of the time today talking about what what is success. And I think, through this program, it's just, it's nice to be able to envision a future where coastal communities across the United States are resilient to future change. And that that is done in a way that is thoughtful, that builds on best available science that harnesses nature, and doesn't just take a approach of hardening everywhere. So that in addition to having these fish and wildlife benefits, and coastal protection, that, you know, we're able to enhance recreation, and tourism and aesthetics and all other things that people love about their coasts, and connect with in coastal areas. And I think this this past hard year has been a reminder of how much people value nature, being outdoors. And so I think, with ncrf, having the ability to protect communities, while also enhancing our coastal environment. It's really just a win win. So that's my parting thought.
Bill O'Beirne 44:02
Great. And Erica, how about you?
Erika Feller 44:05
I want to associate myself with everything that Laura just said. Um, and, you know, the only thing I think I would add, that I want to leave people with is, we, when I say over and over, that we want to meet communities where we are, I think we all mean that sincerely across the NIF with a NOAA partnership. And we want to make sure that this community or that this program is available and accessible by communities across the US and there are no bad questions. There are no necessarily preferences about who we find. We we want to work with people and so I would just encourage folks, you know, if you've got a project idea if you're interested in this program, but you're not sure like that you can meet the match requirement or you're not sure that you know, you have what we're looking for in terms of a project call us we're you know, we've we've got a team here who can Who knows a lot about this and can work with people and we really want to see people. You know, get into this, figure it out and develop solid projects. That's why we're here. So don't hesitate to reach out.
Bill O'Beirne 45:14
And one more time, Erica, where can they go to get information?
Erika Feller 45:19
You can go to bw dot NIF with.org slash coastal resilience. There is more information there than you could possibly imagine about the national coastal resilience fund. But more importantly is there are three names across the bottom of it. There's my name Erica feller, Katie Goldsmith, who manages the national coastal resilience fund. And erielle Mian, who is the coordinator for our team, and any one of us are happy to answer questions. We also have regional leads, who are probably closer to where people are, that you can also reach out to and say, hey, I've got a project idea of what do you think?
Bill O'Beirne 45:57
And Laura, if our listeners are interested in finding out a little bit more about the office for coastal management, where could they go to get that
Laura Petes 46:05
go to coast on newer.gov. Also referencing digital coast, which I mentioned earlier, you can go to coast.noaa.gov slash digital coast and there's lots of great information, tools and resources there.
Bill O'Beirne 46:18
Well, great. Again, my thanks to Erica feller and Dr. Laura Parrish, for being on the show. And thanks, everybody, and we'll be talking to you soon.