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Alligator sunning at St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge. Photo by Steve Hillebrand.

Gulf Restoration

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.

Download the Efforts of the U.S. Department of Interior and partners in gulf restoration after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in Mississippi.

Learn more about what’s happening in your state: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas.

The Gulf of Mexico: fast facts

Detailed factsheets about Gulf restoration can be found here.

  • 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 32 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.
  • U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) trend analyses from 1985 to 2010 show a wetland loss rate that, if it were to occur at a constant rate, would equate to Louisiana losing an area the size of one football field per hour.
Map of the Gulf of Mexico watershed, which spans from the midwest to the eastern Great Lakes all the way to the Gulf of Mexico.
Gulf of Mexico watershed. Map: Roy Hewitt, USFWS.

Video from the Gulf

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video is worth a thousand pictures. Take a look at these videos highlighting our efforts to restore the priceless Gulf of Mexico. We hope you enjoy them and invite you to join us on our journey to restore the Gulf of Mexico.

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