Projects

Central Everglades Project

  • State: Florida
  • Type: Hydrologic Restoration
  • Estuary: Everglades
  • Land Benefit: 10,000 acres

The Central Everglades Project, authorized by Congress in 2016, is a bundle of high-impact project components aimed to improve the delivery of water to the central Everglades ecosystem. It includes elements to store, treat, and convey water south of Lake Okeechobee, and components to remove barriers to the sheetflow of water between the Water Conservation Areas and Everglades National Park. CEP will work synergistically with the EAA Reservoir and the Tamiami Trail Bridging to de-compartmentalize the Everglades and send water south. When completed, CEP will restore the natural sheetflow to 10,000 acres of degraded Everglades’ wetlands and improve the health of Florida Bay.

Fish and Waterfowl Benefits

Florida Bay, known universally among those who love to fish there as “the backcountry,” stretches from the southernmost tip of the mainland, south to the Florida Keys. Hundreds of mangrove islands dot the bay, and are ringed by shallow flats that make a perfect home for snook, redfish, spotted seatrout and lots more.

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St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge Land Acquisition

  • State: Florida
  • Type: Habitat Protection
  • Estuary: Apalachicola Bay
  • Land Benefit: 20,000 acres

This project provides habitat conservation through land acquisition and permanent conservation easements via expansion of the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge. The project will enhance water quality, improve community resilience, protect coastal marine resources, and provide tremendous benefit to migratory bird species. The targeted tracts include wetland habitats that provide direct benefits to Apalachee Bay, St. Marks River, and the Gulf of Mexico. Two tracts, the Sam Shine tract (8,117 acres) and The Nature Conservancy Tract (7,699 acres) comprise the vast majority of this project. In addition, the 2,228-acre Lower Ochlockonee River Tract would provide protection to the local estuary, and two other easement parcels (totaling approximately 2,100 acres), would greatly aid the St. Marks River. This project will buffer Apalachee Bay, a high salinity, seagrass rich aquatic area which is an important corridor to the low salinity, phytoplankton rich area of nearby Apalachicola Bay.

Fish and Waterfowl Benefits

Apalachee Bay is also renowned as one of the cleanest and most ecologically abundant bays left in Florida. St. Marks NWR provides opportunities for both fresh and saltwater fishing. In addition to many lakes, ponds, creeks and rivers, the refuge has two boat launching sites for access to Apalachicola Bay. In addition, the refuge holds several organized hunts on portions of the refuge, including a special youth hunt.

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Pensacola East Bay Living Shorelines & Oyster Reef Restoration

  • State: Florida
  • Type: Living Shoreline/Oyster Restoration
  • Estuary: Pensacola Bay
  • Land Benefit: 6.5 shoreline miles

This project will create up to 6.5 miles of living shorelines in the East Bay area of Pensacola Bay. The project will include installation of materials to provide structure suitable for development of oyster reef habitat and will serve as a natural approach to controlling shoreline erosion. The project will apply the most appropriate substrate for oyster larvae to settle and colonize, restoring critical oyster habitat. The deployment of oyster habitat (which serves as a breakwater) and the planting of salt marsh vegetation will protect the shoreline by dampening wave energy (which erodes the shoreline) and stabilizing sediments (which cause turbidity). These improvements will promote the growth of seagrass and increase colonization by oysters.

Fish and Waterfowl Benefits

Living shorelines created by this project will ultimately provide nursery habitat for commercially and recreationally important finfish and shellfish, as well as forage and nesting areas for birds.

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100-1000: Restore Coastal Alabama

  • State: Alabama
  • Type: Living Shoreline/Oyster Restoration
  • Estuary: Mobile Bay
  • Land Benefit: 900 acres

This project is a partnership between federal and state agencies, academia, municipalities, non-profits, businesses and citizens. It involves building 100 miles of intertidal oyster reefs, which will in turn protect and promote the growth of more than 1,000 acres of coastal marsh and seagrass. The project will improve water quality and create new habitat for many species of fish and wildlife. Because oysters filter water, the new reefs will increase light penetration for seagrasses. By absorbing wave energy, the reefs also will reduce shoreline erosion and support adjacent marsh habitat.

Fish and Waterfowl Benefits

These living shoreline projects will provide substrate for oyster larvae to settle and colonize and in the process create nursery and foraging habitat for commercially and recreationally important fish and shellfish, as well as birds. Furthermore, the living shoreline protects the adjacent shoreline from erosion, helping to increase land area and property values, and provide opportunities for fishing, bird watching and sightseeing from land, kayak or boat.

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Grand Bay National Wildlife Refuge Land Acquisition

  • State: Alabama
  • Type: Habitat Protection
  • Estuary: Mobile Bay
  • Land Benefit: 2,250 acres

The Grand Bay National Wildlife Refuge, in Alabama and Mississippi, protects one of the largest expanses of undisturbed pine savannah habitat in the Gulf Coast. The goals of the refuge include conserving valuable riverine habitat, protecting threatened and endangered species, restoring and protecting key coastal habitats and managing populations of migratory birds and other trust species. This project would add approximately 2,250 acres to the nearly 18,000 acres currently owned by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. It will add critical coastal frontage to the refuge for permanent protection and improved management of coastal wetlands and adjacent upland areas.

Fish and Waterfowl Benefits

The rare and vital habitat provided by Grand Bay NWR serves as a home for various plant communities and migratory bird species, which can often be observed in abundance. The refuge also provides many hunting and fishing opportunities for the public, including waterfowl hunting, deer stands, a free boat launch and a fishing pier.

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Dantzler Coastal Preserve Restoration

  • State: Mississippi
  • Type: Marsh Restoration
  • Estuary: Mississippi Sound
  • Land Benefit: 900 acres

This project will restore a total of 900 acres (500 acres of estuarine marsh and 400 acres of longleaf pine savannah) within Dantzler Coastal Preserve, which is part of the state’s larger Pascagoula River Marsh Preserve. The Dantzler property suffered less direct wind and tidal surge damage than many of the other Coastal Preserves during Hurricane Katrina. However, serious long-term consequences are anticipated due to the distribution of Chinese tallow tree propagules across the site. The effort to regain control of Chinese tallow throughout the site and cleanup residual storm debris would be greatly aided by first conducting comprehensive prescribed burns. Restoring access that was lost due to storm downfall can be accomplished as part of the preparation for prescribed burning. There would be prescribed fires, 400 acres of invasive species control via spraying and cutting, 75 acres of reforestation and monitoring.

Fish and Waterfowl Benefits

The Pascagoula River Marsh Preserve consists of 11,500 acres that includes essentially all marsh associated with the mouth of the Pascagoula River. Tidal marsh serves as a nursery for recreationally and commercially important fisheries, filters water from rivers before the reach the Gulf, and function as buffers from coastal storms. Boaters and anglers also use the Pascagoula River Marsh area on occasional and seasonal basis for waterfowl hunting (sparingly) and fishing.

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Gulf Islands National Seashore Land Acquisition

  • State: Mississippi
  • Type: Habitat Protection
  • Estuary: Mississippi Sound
  • Land Benefit: 250 acres

Gulf Islands National Seashore spans two barrier islands chains off the Mississippi Coast and Florida Panhandle. This project will permanently protect roughly 250 acres on Horn Island, through the acquisition of an outstanding 50 percent interest held in private ownership. These inholdings within the Gulf Islands National Seashore are among the highest acquisition priorities for the National Park Service. Its permanent protection would support a variety of wildlife species, would increase storm surge protection and would facilitate and public use of the property.

Fish and Waterfowl Benefits

Horn Island is one of the few nationally designated barrier island wilderness areas in the national park system, and provides excellent feeding, resting, and wintering habitat for numerous types of neotropical migrants and wintering waterfowl. In particular, the lands to be acquired provide nesting habitats for sea turtles, grazing seagrass beds for migrating manatees, as well as important barrier island maritime forests and freshwater wetland areas.

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Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge Environmental Flow Restoration

  • State: Texas
  • Type: Hydrologic Restoration
  • Estuary: Galveston Bay
  • Land Benefit: 6,500 acres

This project would restore freshwater flows across two large tracts, totaling about 6,500 acres, at the Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge. Land use changes, such as construction of roads and ditches, have reduced overland flow of fresh water. Combined with the channelization of adjacent bayous that connect to East Galveston Bay, the reduced flow has increased salinity levels in marsh habitats resulting in ongoing marsh degradation including the conversion of areas to open-water saline ponds. Up to 10,000 acre-feet per year of reliably available water would be purchased and delivered to the tracts.

Fish and Waterfowl Benefits

Anahuac NWR provides some of the best seasonal waterfowl hunting opportunities in Southeast Texas. The water deliveries will restore more natural salinity gradients and inundation patterns across the refuge tracts, improving and protecting marsh habitat for wading birds and waterfowl.  The water deliveries also will reduce salinity levels in bayous draining the tracts, especially during drought periods, benefiting young fish, shrimp, crabs and other organisms that move between the tracts and nearby East Galveston Bay.

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West Powderhorn Ranch Acquisition (Powderhorn II)

  • State: Texas
  • Type: Habitat Protection
  • Estuary: Matagorda Bay
  • Land Benefit: 10,000 acres

On the west side of Powderhorn Ranch, is the 10,000-acre West Powderhorn ranch, with more than four miles of frontage on the tidally-influenced Powderhorn Lake, and healthy native prairie, live oak forest, tidal marsh, tidal flat and palustrine freshwater wetlands. Acquisition of the West Powderhorn site would expand the Powderhorn Ranch Wildlife Management Area and State Park to well over 27,000 acres. This estuary is provides habitat for a vast number of shorebirds, wading birds, waterfowl and Neotropical migrants.

Fish and Waterfowl Benefits

This project aids in assuring management for landscape scale ecosystem functions and sufficient habitat for whooping cranes, as well as a myriad of resident and migratory coastal species such as shore and wading birds and waterfowl, many of which are already identified by the state as species of greatest conservation need.

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San Antonio Bay Conservation Easement Acquisition

  • State: Texas
  • Type: Habitat Protection
  • Estuary: San Antonio Bay
  • Land Benefit: 2,500 acres

Private landowners hold and manage key tracts in and around the Guadalupe Delta and San Antonio Bay. Many of the lands are not currently available for fee simple purchase, however, a number of landowners have expressed interest in sale of conservation easements. Engaging local landowners through a conservation easement purchase program in this critical ecological area would also provide additional opportunities for enrolling these same landowners in a number of private lands habitat restoration and enhancement programs established by other private and public funders.

Fish and Waterfowl Benefits

The Guadalupe-Blanco River Trust holds conservation easements on over 9,000 acres of land that preserves wildlife corridors, native grasses, river and stream frontages, ranches and farms. Permanently protecting additional lands in this area would provide direct benefit to waterfowl, wetland dependent birds, endangered species and water quality.

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