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Mobile Bay plans will help conserve Alabama coastal ecosystems

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has been working with the Mobile Bay National Estuary Program (MBNEP), in partnership with the state of Alabama, to secure funding through the RESTORE Act (Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities, and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s (NFWF) Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund to develop plans for watersheds along the Alabama coast.

A map of watersheds surrounding Mobile Bay
Map of intertidal 12-digit HUC watersheds for which watershed management plans have been completed or are planned, from - RESPECT THE CONNECT: An Updated Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan for Alabama’s Estuaries and Coast 2019-2023.

MBNEP has partnered with stakeholders to develop these Watershed Management Plans, which will provide a roadmap for restoring and conserving watersheds and improving water and habitat quality. These plans will chart a course for improving or protecting the things people value most about living along the Alabama coast, including:

A small creek with shallow rocks causing ripples in the water
Tiawassee Creek Restoration, Daphne. From MBNEP’s 2019 RESPECT THE CONNECT: An Updated Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan for Alabama’s Estuaries and Coast.

Water quality

The coastal community continues to desire water that is drinkable, swimmable, and able to support aquatic and marine life.

Fish and wildlife

Fishery resources are valued as an industry, a primary recreational pastime, and a staple of the diets of residents and visitors.

Environmental health and resilience

The coastal community relies upon coordinated actions to reduce vulnerability to and recover from the range of hazards we face, natural and otherwise.


Having access to coastal waters and natural resources is something about which people care deeply.

Heritage and culture

Preserving heritage and culture means that the waters will be available to our grandchildren.

Beaches and shorelines

These provide critical edge habitat to aquatic and terrestrial animals and recreational opportunities for residents and visitors.

In addition to these six values these plans will provide a strategy for conserving and restoring coastal habitat types providing critical ecosystem services and identified by the MBNEP’s Science Advisory Committee as most threatened by human-causes stressors. These habitat types (freshwater wetlands; streams, rivers, and riparian buffers; and intertidal marshes and flats) were classified as most stressed from activities like dredging and filling, fragmentation, and sedimentation, all related to land use change.

The Service’s local Coastal Program Coordinator acts as the co-chair on the Project Implementation Committee and also sits on the SAC and Executive Committees. We routinely evaluate plan proposals and subsequent project proposals, particularly in line with Coastal Program priorities for appropriate habitat restoration and listed and at-risk species concerns. In cases where NFWF or RESTORE funding is inadequate or inappropriate, other sources will be explored, including the Coastal Program, Partners, NRDA, National Coastal Wetlands Grants, Gulf Restoration Program, etc.

A dry, rocky streambed surrounded by yellow black-eyed susan flowers
Joe’s Branch Restoration. From MBNEP’s 2019 RESPECT THE CONNECT: An Updated Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan for Alabama’s Estuaries and Coast.

The Coastal Program has provided funding for large living shoreline projects that the MBNEP has developed and routinely assists with projects on the ground. Over the years, the Coastal Program has financed a wide variety of coastal habitat restoration work in this area including: stream restoration; salt marsh creation; invasive species removal; pitcher plant bog and long-leaf pine restoration; assisting Refuges with interns that performed surveying (sea turtles, beach mice, shorebirds, invasive species), habitat mapping and management, education and outreach, invasives removal, and assisting visiting researchers.


Patric Harper, restoration biologist, (228) 475-0765 x105

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information on our work and the people who can make it happen, visit Connect with the Service on Facebook, follow our tweets, watch the YouTube Channel and download photos from Flickr.

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