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An upland forest edge after mechanical thinning
Information icon Grand Bay habitat area after mastication. Photo by USFWS.

Deepwater Horizon settlement Funds help Mississippi coastal habitats

A bird with a forked-tail and white breast
Swallow-tailed kite. Photo by USFWS.

Habitat management activities are well underway on the Deepwater Horizon Natural Resource Damage Assessment Grand Bay Land Acquisition and Habitat Management Project (MS Trustee Implementation Group Restoration Plan/Environmental Assessment, 2017). This project benefits the National Wildlife Refuge System, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Ecological Services Program, and the Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve.

A large tortoise ambling down a sandy trail
Gopher tortoise. Photo by USFWS.

A recent visit to the Grand Bay National Wildlife Refuge showcased land managers from both the refuge and the reserve hard at work restoring native coastal habitats by using prescribed fire and mechanical thinning. These techniques replicate the natural ecological processes that historically shaped these coastal ecosystems and help to restore the natural ecosystem function. Habitat types in the project area include coastal marsh, beach, freshwater marsh, pine savanna flatwoods, forested freshwater scrub-shrub, and open water in tidal creeks and bayous.

The conservation and management of coastal habitats like these is one of the fundamental steps in building and maintaining a sustainable, resilient coastal environment. This work will help to protect a multitude of listed, declining, and priority conservation species, including these animals listed as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act: Mississippi sandhill crane, gopher tortoise, Louisiana black bear, yellow-blotched map turtle, and Alabama red-bellied turtle. In addition, it will benefit animals considered at risk, including Henslow’s sparrow, yellow rail, black rail, brown-headed nuthatch, American swallow-tailed kite, southeastern American kestrel, northern bobwhite, red-headed woodpecker, loggerhead shrike, white ibis, American oystercatcher, sedge wren, chuck-wills widow, northern harrier, Nelson’s sparrow, Wilson’s plover, diamondback terrapin, Gulf salt marsh snake, and saltmarsh topminnow.

An upland pine habitat after thinning between trees
Grand Bay habitat management area after it was cleared. Photo by USFWS.

Contact

Nanciann Regalado, Public affairs specialist
nanciann_regalado@fws.gov, (404) 679-7286

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