Great Start to the Year in Mississippi
Recently we joined our friends at the Mississippi Wildlife Federation in a meeting with Governor Phil Bryant, who is himself an outdoorsman and understands the importance of certain restoration projects.
By Amanda Fuller
Deputy Director, NWF Gulf of Mexico Restoration Program
Restoration across the Gulf of Mexico is starting to take off this year now that BP is in its second year of payments under their 2016 settlement agreement, and the pace of restoration in Mississippi is no exception.
Vanishing Paradise started off our work in Mississippi in 2018 by joining our friends at the Mississippi Wildlife Federation in a meeting with Governor Phil Bryant, who is himself an outdoorsman and understands the importance of certain restoration projects to the hunters and fishermen of Mississippi. At our meeting, we presented the Governor with more than 500 postcards signed by sportsmen and women during the 2017 Mississippi Wildlife Extravaganza asking him to prioritize ecological restoration of the Mississippi Coast over any other use of the state’s funds from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The fact that several years out from the oil disaster we were able to secure more signed postcards than in any other year made this a very strong message to deliver.
Governor Bryant is the ultimate decision-maker when it comes to how Mississippi will invest its more than $1.3 billion dollars that can be used for restoration as a result of the Deepwater Horizon disaster. While some of these funds have already been awarded or are in the process of being committed to projects that include improving water quality, restoring and protecting critical habitats, and benefiting birds, oysters, and fish, the state is still in its opening act of restoration as the remaining money will become available over the next decade and a half. There’s still plenty of opportunity for stakeholders like sportsmen and women in Mississippi to influence Governor Bryant and other decision-makers to ensure that the hunting and fishing heritage that Mississippians cherish will be passed down to future generations.
Vanishing Paradise and the Mississippi Wildlife Federation were pleased to thank Governor Bryant for the state’s prioritization and funding of two projects that benefit Mississippi’s outdoor way of life – Dantzler Restoration and Grand Bay National Wildlife Refuge Acquisition. The Dantzler Restoration project restores a total of 900 acres, including estuarine marsh that serves as the nursery grounds for important commercial and recreational fisheries and longleaf pine savannah, while the Grand Bay National Wildlife Refuge Acquisition project permanently protects more than 1,650 acres available to hunters on the refuge.
We also urged Governor Bryant to prioritize two additional projects that would support waterfowl on the coast – Grand Bay Ecological Restoration and Gulf Islands National Seashore Land Acquisition. The Grand Bay Ecological Restoration project will restore the natural water flow of 20,518 linear feet of streams and bayous and 662 acres of adjacent wetlands and coastal marshes used as habitat for waterfowl. The Gulf Islands National Seashore Land Acquisition project will permanently protect 250 acres on Horn Island through the acquisition of an outstanding 50% interest held in private ownership, opening up more of the island to waterfowl hunting.
We’re proud of the restoration work that has been funded so far in Mississippi, and we look forward to continuing to make sure that hunters and anglers in Mississippi have a seat at the table, giving them the opportunity to do what they can to pass down their way of life to their children and grandchildren.