RAE’s strategic plan outlines our programmatic priorities, which include: Community-Based Restoration, Blue Carbon, Living Shorelines, National Estuaries Week, Water Quality, and our biennial National Summit. By focusing our efforts in these areas, RAE is creating significant impacts at both the local and national levels.
Community-Based Restoration Program – RAE believes that restoration of our nation’s estuaries is best accomplished at the local level, by the people and organizations who have the strongest connection to them. We therefore work through our member groups and other partner organizations to support restoration projects that are community-based from design to execution. RAE supports impactful projects such as salt marsh planting, dam removal, oyster and scallop restoration, invasive species removal, and living shoreline creation. Further, these projects are conducted with the assistance of tens of thousands of volunteers from local communities, including groups or representatives from schools, scouts, houses of worship, corporations, neighborhood associations, and other community organizations. We therefore through these efforts are not only able to bring about meaningful on-the-ground results in vital coastal areas, but also to engage community members in the protection of their local natural resources.
Blue Carbon – RAE seeks to continue advancing the science and practice of "blue carbon." Blue Carbon is the ability of tidal wetlands and seagrass habitats to sequester and store carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, helping to mitigate the effects of climate change. Blue Carbon ecosystems – seagrass beds, mangroves, salt marshes, and other tidal wetlands – capture atmospheric carbon and store it in the ground at rates 10 times greater than forests on a per area basis. Unlike forests, wetlands' primary carbon storage is in the soils (rather than in the above-ground plant materials) where it can remain stored for centuries or more. When these ecosystems are drained or degraded, the stored carbon can be rapidly released back into the atmosphere - sometimes releasing centuries’ worth of stored carbon in only a few decades. Protecting our remaining coastal wetland ecosystems therefore not only protects the ecosystem services provided by these habitats (improved water quality, storm protection, key marine habitat, etc.), but can also be a way to mitigate climate change.
Living Shorelines – RAE is a national leader in promoting the effectiveness and use of living shorelines, which are a series of approaches that allow for natural coastal processes to remain through the strategic placement of plants, stone, sand fill, and other structural and organic materials. The goal is to retain much of the wind, tide, and storm-related wave protection of a hard structure, while maintaining some of the features of natural shorelines.
National Estuaries Week – RAE leads the organization, planning, and promotion of National Estuaries Week, an annual campaign to help protect and restore many of America’s most iconic and important bodies of water. RAE leverages National Estuaries Week to build support and awareness among key decision makers and the general public nationwide regarding the importance of estuaries to local communities, as well as to the nation and the world; the urgent threats faced by these priceless areas and the natural resources they contain and protect; and the ways that these threats can be countered. National Estuaries Week occurs each year during the third week of September. Through support of, communications with, and coordination with our member groups and a host of other partner organizations, RAE looks to continue and build upon the impressive track record of on-the-ground, community engagement, and awareness-building impact we have consistently brought about through National Estuaries Week.
Water Quality – RAE supports efforts to improve water quality in important estuaries nationwide. Examples of water quality projects include efforts to: remove and/or prevent the introduction of tens of thousands of feet of monofilament from the waters and coasts of bird sanctuaries and colonial nesting areas around Tampa Bay; remove marine debris contaminated with the highly toxic chemical creosote from areas of Puget Sound that are vital feeding and breeding areas for killer whales, salmon, and many other fish and wildlife species; and engage hundreds of community volunteers to remove abandoned crab traps and other marine debris from the waters and coasts of Galveston Bay.
National Summit – The National Coastal and Estuarine Summit is the largest international gathering of coastal professionals. The Summit brings together 1,000+ people, including those involved in policy, science, strategy, business, and on-the-ground restoration and management, for a week of networking, learning, and hands-on opportunities. There are more than 100 sessions designed to engage and inspire, poster sessions, an award-winning exhibition hall, receptions, and more.