Grand Bay Expansion Proposal
Conserving the Nature of America
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Benefits to Waterfowl, Shorebirds, and Other Migratory Birds
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The salt flats, tidal creeks, and brackish marshes in Areas B and D are used extensively by wading birds, shorebirds, and waterfowl, including mottled ducks, a species of concern in Alabama and Mississippi. About 20% of the coastal waterfowl in Alabama and Mississippi winter in this area, the most prevalent species being lesser scaup, redhead, ring-necked duck, mallard, and American wigeon. Commonly seen wading birds include the snowy egret, little blue heron, tricolored heron, cattle egret, great egret, glossy ibis, white ibis, reddish egret, black skimmer, and American oystercatcher. The cypress-tupelo swamps provide ideal habitat for wood ducks, other migratory birds.

 

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Benefits to Threatened and Endangered Species
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Area A contains a pasture/pecan orchard which supports a large gopher tortoise colony. This threatened species may also occur in the other expansion areas. The most significant threats to the species are adverse habitat alteration, taking, and development of occupied habitats. Acquisition of this area by the Service would result in protection and management of the gopher tortoise colony. The yellow-blotched map turtle and Alabama red-bellied turtle are known to occur along the lower Escatawpa River in Area C. The gulf sturgeon may also be found in the lower Escatawpa River. The piping plover and least tern may be found on the small barrier islands along the Gulf coast in Area D.

 

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Other Bird, Fish, Mammal and Reptillian Species of Concern
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According to the Natural Heritage Programs in Mississippi and Alabama the following species have been documented or are likely to occur within the proposed expansion area:

Birds

  • Henslow’s sparrow (Area B)
  • Louisiana seaside sparrow (Area B)
  • Sharp-shinned hawk (Area A,B,C,D)
  • Mottled duck (Area B,D)
  • Southeastern snowy plover (Area B,D)
  • Snowy plover (Area B,D)
  • Piping plover (Area B,D)
  • Wilson’s plover (Area B,D)
  • Yellow rail (Area B,D)
  • Reddish egret (Area B,D)
  • White ibis (Area B,D)
  • Gull-billed tern (Area B,D)
  • American oystercatcher (Area B,D)
  • Bald eagle (Area B, D)
  • Caspian tern (Area B,D)
  • Least bittern (Area B,D)
  • Black rail (Area B,D)
  • Brown pelican (Area B,D)
  • Glossy ibis (Area B,D)
  • Black skimmer (Area B,D)
  • Common tern (Area B,D)
  • Least tern (Area B,C,D)
  • Royal tern (Area B,D)
  • Sandwich tern (Area B,D)
  • Peregrine falcon (Area A,B,C,D)
  • Osprey (Area B,C,D)
  • White pelican (Area D)

 

Fish

  • Scaly sand darter (Area D)
  • Alligator gar (AreaC,D)
  • Bluespotted sunfish (Area D)
  • Swamp darter (Area D)
  • Brighteye darter (Area D)
  • Golden topminnow (Area D)
  • Banded topminnow (Area D)
  • Saltmarsh topminnow (Area D)
  • Least killifish (Area D)
  • Rainwater killifish (Area D)
  • Cherryfin shiner (Area D)
  • Ironcolor shiner (Area D)
  • Taillight shiner (Area D)
  • Coastal shiner (Area D)
  • Sailfin molly (Area D)
  • Flagfin shiner (Area D)

 

Mammals

  • Black bear (Area D)
  • Northern yellow bat (Area C,D)

 

Reptiles and Amphibians

  • Gulf salt marsh water snake (Area D)
  • Mississippi diamondback terrapin (Area C)
  • American alligator (Area B,C,D)

 

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Fishery Resources
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The fishery resources of the Escatawpa River system are excellent. The section of the river in Area C and its associated sloughs, and lakes contain large populations of largemouth bass, bream, crappie, and catfish. Public fishing is popular along the river. Over 80 species of fish have been reported from the estuarine habitats of Grand Bay including commercially valuable species such as Atlantic croaker, spot, menhaden, spotted sea trout, flounder, red drum, oysters, brown shrimp, white shrimp, and blue crab.

 

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Resident Wildlife
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The cypress-tupelo swamps in Area D provide ideal habitat for many resident wildlife species, including white-tailed deer and wild turkey. River otters, raccoons, nutria, and muskrats inhabit the tidal marshes in Areas B and D and riverine corridors in Areas B and C. Other major terrestrial species include bobcat, and both gray and red fox.

 

 

A sunrise through pine trees

Sunrise through the piney woods at Grand Bay. Photo © Tom Carlisle.



A woman in fire gear stands next to a low-burning fire

Prescribed fire is one of the habitat management techniques used at Grand Bay. Here USFWS's Sue Wilder uses a driptorch during a 2005 burn. Photo: Josh O'Connor, USFWS.

Last updated: June 17, 2011