Restoring the Gulf of Mexico and its Wild Inhabitants
The Gulf of Mexico is critically important to the health and vitality of our nation’s natural and economic resources. Over the last century, however, the Gulf’s environment has deteriorated significantly due to factors such as:
- Climate Change
- Sea-level rise
- Loss of critical wetlands and coastal habitats
- Decreasing water quality and quantity
- Invasive species
Natural disasters like hurricanes, and man-made disasters like oil spills, exacerbate the damage.
As a result, native fish and wildlife populations and their habitats are in decline, imperiling the very fabric that supports the area’s vibrant economy. In order to achieve a healthy Gulf of Mexico, the Service recognizes conservation must occur throughout the greater Gulf watershed. Society’s investment in the Gulf of Mexico will be at risk if we restore the coastal region but fail to address systemic problems that originate upstream.
Restoring this vital area will ensure America continues to thrive well into and beyond the 21st century.
The Gulf of Mexico: Fast Facts
- More than 50% of the contiguous United States have rivers, creeks, and streams that eventually drain into the Gulf of Mexico.
- The Gulf of Mexico watershed includes 31 states that stretch from Montana to Florida, as well as parts of Canada and Mexico.
- The Gulf of Mexico and its watershed are home to more than 500 federally listed species, of which more than 350 are endangered.
- Among the threatened and endangered species in the watershed are some of America’s most beloved and iconic species, such as sea turtles, manatees, whooping cranes and peregrine falcons.
- The natural resources in the five U.S. states bordering the Gulf are the foundation of a multi-billion dollar economic engine that employs more than eight million people and produces more than half of America’s crude oil and natural gas.
- Every 45 minutes, another football field of wetlands in Louisiana disappears into the sea, taking with it nature’s best storm protection and water filter, as well as the cradle for sea life in the world’s third largest delta.