Initiatives | Portfields

Revitalizing Ports to Benefit Economic Activity and Healthy Ecosystems

Photo of port

Portfields is a NOAA led federal interagency effort that focuses on the redevelopment of brownfields in port and harbor areas, with emphasis on development of environmentally sound port facilities.

Portfields is a NOAA and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) led initiative to increase collaboration among local, state, and federal partners and ports on local port revitalization issues. Headed by the Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management (OCRM) and with support from the EPA, US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), the Economic Development Administration (EDA), and other federal agencies, the initiative is designed to bring together partners to address port revitalization issues such as brownfields redevelopment, dredging, and habitat restoration. The initiative emphasizes environmentally and economically sound revitalization of port facilities. To date, three Portfields pilots have been designated, including Bellingham, WA; New Bedford, MA; and Tampa, FL.

Our nation’s ports are active economic zones. Waterborne commerce is expected to double by year 2020 and the size of commercial vessels continues to increase significantly. Consequently, U.S. ports will need to upgrade their infrastructure to remain competitive in the expanding market place. Currently 95 percent of U.S. foreign trade passes through U.S. ports contributing $780 billion to the economy and supporting 16 million jobs. With 95,000 miles of coastline and 25,000 miles of navigable waters, our coastlines host 300 ports and 3,700 marine terminals. More than half of the nation’s protected, threatened, and endangered species can also be found in port areas.  

The Portfields Initiative focuses on redeveloping port communities in a way that enhances port infrastructure, protects human health, preserves and restores critical habitat, and provides improved quality of life and economic opportunity for communities. The initiative is further designed to leverage federal, state, local, and private resources to support development and revitalization efforts and to share best practices and lessons learned between port communities.

Building on the success of the three pilot projects, OCRM and the National Ocean Service Special Projects office worked with EPA, the Regional Planning Commission of New Orleans and the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to host a Portfields peer to peer exchange with representatives of six southern Louisiana ports. Representatives from New Bedford, Tampa and Bellingham provided a first hand account of Portfields coordination resulted in implementation of local port projects.  In addition, state and federal partners provided information on financial and technical assistance opportunities. 

The Portfields partners are currently working with South Louisiana ports to implement priority projects, including brownfields assessment and clean up, dredging, infrastructure development and habitat restoration.

For additional information contact Kenneth Walker.