Coastal Alabama is known for its white-sand beaches and seafood industry. It boasts a dynamic system of dunes, marshes, beaches, bays, rivers, oyster reefs and barrier islands, with the Mobile Bay watershed at its heart. Coastal Alabama is home to a stunning array of wildlife and marine life, including more than 350 species of birds and more than 335 species of freshwater and saltwater fish.
Mobile Bay provides critical nursery grounds for a multitude of commercially and recreationally important fish and shellfish species. The state’s thriving seafood industry supports more than 17,000 jobs, and recreational and commercial fishing combined generate $1 billion annually in the state.
In total, Alabama is certain to receive more than $1.3 billion dollars that can be used for restoration as a result of the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Roughly a fifth of these funds have already been awarded or are in the process of being committed to projects that include building living shorelines, expanding the Grand Bay National Wildlife Refuge and completing a full suite of thirty-one watershed plans for Mobile Bay. The remaining money will become available over the next decade and a half.
100-1000: Restore Coastal Alabama
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.
Grand Bay National Wildlife Refuge Land Acquisition
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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