The Press Democrat —
Efforts to restore the iconic kelp forest off the North Coast would receive a $50 million a year boost under a bill introduced by U.S. Rep. Jared Huffman, the first major investment in reviving an ecosystem that supports diverse and abundant marine life.
The legislation introduced by the San Rafael Democrat last week would establish a new grant program under the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. It would be funded by $50 million a year over at least the next four years to support projects aimed at conserving, restoring and managing kelp forest ecosystems.
The Keeping Ecosystems Living and Productive, or KELP, Act would provide a significant boost to work in recent years to address the collapse of the bull kelp forest off the coasts of Sonoma and Mendocino counties.
“Healthy kelp forests play an important role in marine ecosystems, sustainable fisheries, and coastal communities,” Huffman said in a news release. “But the extensive kelp loss on the North Coast has had serious impacts on our ocean and everyone who depends on it. Local communities are working hard to restore these vital ecosystems, and the KELP Act will direct the necessary federal resources to support these important recovery efforts.”