Agency Spotlight: January Murray, NOAA

January Murray is a fish biologist for NOAA’s Southeast Regional Office – Habitat Conservation Division and project manager on CWPPRA restoration and protection projects.

Q: Describe the part of your job/role that you enjoy the most.

A: The part of my job I enjoy the most is working as team with other agencies and establishing partnerships and friendships with other likeminded environmentally conscientious individuals. I take pride in knowing my influences as a CWPPRA project manager facilitate the restoration of marsh habitat in Louisiana. 

Q: Describe the part of your job/role that you believe is the most impactful.

A: The best part of my job is visiting a restoration site before, during, and after construction. With aerial photography, we can tell the story of the restoration project overtime. The most impactful message about a project can be provided to the public through a time series of photographs and videos highlighting the construction process where they can see open water transform into marsh habitat. These newly created and nourished marsh habitats benefit the general public in many ways: recreation in the forms of boating, fishing, and experiencing nature; bird watching; and restoration of wetlands aids in the reduction of storm induced scouring and saltwater intrusion.   

Q: What do you think is the best/easiest way community members can help restore or preserve wetlands?

A: Getting the community involved in coastal restoration is step one. Step two is educating our youth on the importance of coastal habitats so they understand from an early age the value of these unique habitats and the ecosystem functions and services they provide. Instilling a sense of stewardship and connecting our youth with nature is the best way community members can help restore and preserve wetlands. Additionally, generating curiosity about wetlands and establishing STEM Programs for our youth will help to create the next generation of fisheries and wildlife biologists, coastal engineers, and educators. The CWPPRA Program invests in coastal restoration, but these projects do more than create habitats. Through education and outreach to our community, the Program helps to create the next generation of scientists to protect and restore coastal Louisiana. 

Q: What is your favorite recreational activity to do in the wetlands?

A: My favorite activities to do in wetlands are CWPPRA fieldwork, driving the boat, and being out on the water experiencing the joys of nature in the marsh and bayous. Seeing fish and wildlife thriving in their natural habitat is my favorite recreational activity. Exploring and appreciating nature and has a very calming effect on me.  

Q: Is there anything else that you’d like to tell us about yourself or your work in coastal protection and restoration? 

A: I am the federal project manager for the Breton Landbridge Marsh Creation (West) River aux Chenes to Grand Lake (BS-0038) project located in Breton Basin, Plaquemines Parish. The specific goals of the project are: (1) to create and nourish 561 acres of intermediate marsh, (2) to maximum the amount of time the created marsh platform is intertidal throughout the 20-year design life of the project, and (3) to use three lake dike designs to provide enhanced containment along the southern perimeter of Grand Lake. The overall landbridge concept incorporates marsh and shoreline restoration in a west-to-east configuration across the basin to reduce storm induced scouring and saltwater intrusion, to reduce marsh loss due to wind induced erosion, and to raise the marsh elevation with dredged sediment to reduce the coalescence of water bodies. This project will be competing for Phase II construction funding in December 2021.  

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