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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.

Press Releases

  1. A dozen large birds on the edge of a mangrove island. Oct 3, 2017

    How to manage 45 important coastal species in the face of environmental changes

  2. A small deer with velvet covered antlers in a recently burned forest. Sep 13, 2017

    Irma leaves plenty of food and water for key deer

  3. A group of USFWS personnel in a circle for a meeting. Sep 13, 2017

    Service crews head south

  4. Three men meet before deloying with heavy equipment. Sep 12, 2017

    Service assesses damage, starts cleanup

  5. Radar or Irma. Sep 11, 2017

    Irma continues its assault on Southeast

  6. A deer similar in appearance to a white-tailed deer, but much smaller in size Sep 11, 2017

    Key deer among many Florida Keys species facing Irma

  7. A swirling cloud mass south of Florida. Sep 10, 2017

    Irma reaches Florida, heads north

  8. A massive spinning cloud mass between Cuba and the Bahamas. Sep 9, 2017

    Irma aims at Keys, Georgia, Alabama

  9. A map of southeastern Florida. Sep 8, 2017

    Fish and Wildlife Service responders bringing technology to aid Hurricane Irma response, bolster safety

  10. A tiny sea turtle marches towards the ocean on a wet beach. Sep 8, 2017

    Public advisory on sea turtle nests and Hurricane Irma

  11. Satellite image of huge hurricane between Florida and Puerto Rico. Sep 8, 2017

    Service prepares for Hurricane Irma

  12. Two men attach a tarp onto a damaged roof. Sep 8, 2017

    Tips for rebuilding

  13. A massive hurricane threatens Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Sep 7, 2017

    Hurricane Irma: How we are responding

  14. Dozens of grey and white birds taking flight on the beach. May 18, 2017

    Silver Lining: Gulf of Mexico Avian Monitoring Network

  15. Hundreds of brown pelicans cover a vegetated beach. Apr 11, 2017

    Strategic conservation assessment will help guide gulf conservation

  16. Four manatees and a school of fish assemble under crystal clear water. Mar 30, 2017

    Manatee reclassified from endangered to threatened as habitat improves and population expands - existing federal protections remain in place

  17. TWo biologists on a beach wearing gloves photograph and document a dead sea gull. Aug 3, 2016

    Service employees lead studies on toxic and physical effects of oil on birds

  18. TWo biologists on a beach wearing gloves photograph and document a dead sea gull. Jun 1, 2016

    Deepwater Horizon oil spill killed as many as 102,000 birds across 93 species

  19. Bright green needles emerge from a central cone of a longleaf pine tree Apr 6, 2016

    Seeing the forest for the trees

  20. Kemps ridley sea turtle laying in the sand. Large with grey shell and yellow body with grey speckles. Nov 13, 2015

    New report assesses the impacts of emerging threats on Gulf coast species and ecosystems

  21. Two brown pelicans fly in for a landing on the rocky shoreline. Jul 8, 2010

    Using sound science, the service addresses urgent habitat needs for birds and other wildlife along the Gulf coast

  22. Wide based trees emerge from a swamp covered in green pondweed. Jul 2, 2010

    Salazar unveils special edition duck stamp cachet public can purchase to support Gulf wildlife refuges

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 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.
  • 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.

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