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Lower Mississippi River Ecosystem Team
FY 2004 Team Activity Guidance

Continue to implement the Lower Mississippi Valley Migratory Bird Conservation Initiative through stepped-down objectives and projects facilitated via the LMR Ecosystem Team Focus Area work groups, Comprehensive Conservation Plan development, and other means (e.g., planning, land acquisition, restoration, management, monitoring and related database management coordinated by the LMV Joint Venture Office, and enforcement actions).

Coordinate with the LMV Joint Venture in the development of the Carbon Sequestration Program. Work to develop a conservation segment of the carbon program to maximize the benefits to the resource.

Continue working closely with State fish and wildlife agencies, other conservation entities, and private landowners to provide seasonal flooding of harvested crop lands, set-aside lands, and moist soil habitats to benefit waterfowl, shorebirds, and wading birds on Federal, state and private lands.

Restore 30,000 acres of interior wetlands and other special-value habitats (e.g., native prairie) on public and private lands, including 20,000 acres of bottomland hardwoods on National Wildlife Refuges via the Carbon sequestration initiative. Work closely with USDA, other agencies, private conservation organizations, and private landowners to facilitate restoration of wetlands and other special-value habitats on private lands through Farm Bill conservation programs (e.g., WRP and CRP) and other means. Area-specific examples include: (a) support efforts by the Natural Resources Conservation Service to develop a WRP Priority Area along the lower St. Francis and L’Anguille Rivers; and, (b) advocate WRP Special Projects in northern and central Louisiana (e.g.,the LA Black Bear Special Project).

Continue to work with the Louisiana Coastal Wetlands Task Force, private landowners, and other entities to protect and restore coastal wetlands, consistent with the Coast 2050 Plan and associated project planning, evaluation and implementation activities.

Continue efforts to recover threatened and endangered species. Examples include:

a. Continue Gulf and Pallid sturgeon recovery efforts.

In cooperation with the Black Bear Conservation Committee, State agencies, and private landowners, conduct initial actions necessary to restore a viable sub-population of threatened Louisiana black bears in the Red River/Three Rivers complex of east-central Louisiana. Those actions will include population modeling, habitat suitability assessment, trapping and radio-collaring, public outreach, and close coordination with private landowners and various user groups. Continue initial planning efforts aimed at restoring a Louisiana black bear sub-population in western Mississippi.

Initiate efforts to improve habitat, provide refugia, and determine host fish species for the Louisiana Pearlshell and fat pocketbook mussel.

Continue efforts to restore aquatic species of management concern in the Lower Mississippi River System. Specific examples include: (a) assist the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries in determining Gulf sturgeon movements and important habitats in Lake Pontchartrain and tributary streams; and (b) continue to improve the genetic integrity of striped bass in Toledo Bend Reservoir.

Increase aquatic and wetland dependent resources in the 2.8 million acre leveed floodplain of the lower Mississippi River. Continue to support development and implementation of the Lower Mississippi River Conservation Committee’s "Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Plan," and continue efforts to implement improved water management in the Atchafalaya Basin.

Seek additional funding and support for contributing toward reducing the size and duration of the northern Gulf of Mexico hypoxic zone and improving water quality in the lower Mississippi River basin through a variety of nutrient reduction activities, in particular through focused and accelerated efforts to restore wetlands, riparian, and other fish and wildlife habitats.

Ensure effective involvement in water resource project planning, especially for those projects having the highest potential for large-scale impacts to trust species and the greatest opportunities for habitat restoration. Examples include:

Support efforts to restore the lower eight miles of the Cache River.

Continue involvement in efforts to develop an environmentally acceptable plan for the Yazoo Backwater Area.

Work with the Corps of Engineers to help ensure that the Morganza to the Gulf Project and the Lower Atchafalaya River Reevaluation Study contain features that will conserve and, where possible, restore important wetland and aquatic habitats.

Agricultural irrigation projects.

Increase public outreach efforts by working to put media outreach experts in the field either collectively through the Team or in other field offices. Increase cross program use of these individuals.

Consider all grant opportunities available to the Team and our partners and work to improve our internal coordination of these programs to assure that we maximize the contribution of these programs to the resource.

Make a priority of building regional and national support for the Fisheries Program. Utilize all Service resources to support the Fisheries Program. Support the Service’s new vision document for Fisheries: Conserving America’s Fisheries - Fisheries Program Vision for the Future. Support the document’s seven focus areas: Partnerships and Accountability; Aquatic Species Conservation and Management; Public Use; Cooperation with Native Americans; Leadership in Science and Technology; Aquatic Habitat Conservation and Management; and Workforce Management.

Support Environmental Education efforts underway by FWS offices to enhance and expand knowledge, awareness and appreciation of trust resources. Encourage the development of new programs with these objectives. Support EE funding initiatives throughout the LMV.

Continue active support of stream restoration and enhancement throughout the LMV. Examples include:

Continue active support of the Tennessee Stream Mitigation Program (TSMP), including participation as a Stream Mitigation Review Team member agency. Increase efforts to promote the TSMP and educate the landowner public regarding stream restoration and enhancement opportunities through presentations at various organization and agency meetings, workshops, conferences, and training sessions. Provide educational materials regarding stream restoration and the TSMP on field station web sites.

Promote stream restoration and enhancement throughout the LMV through active support of in-lieu-fee stream mitigation programs for each state. Participate in the development and operation of these programs as a member agency represented on program oversight review teams.

Promote the development of stream mitigation guidelines for each state in the LMV. Seek agreement from state and Federal regulatory agencies to routinely require adequate stream mitigation for all development projects that adversely impact free-flowing streams.

Promote watershed level stream and wetland restoration and enhancement through coordination and integration of mitigation projects with the proactive restoration and enhancement activities of state and Federal programs such as Partners for Wildlife, NRC’s Wetland Reserve Program, etc.

Continue efforts to combat spread of invasive species throughout the LMV utilizing biological, chemical, and/or mechanical means. Partnerships with state and local governments as well as federal sources will be sought.