Next Steps for a Healthy Gulf of Mexico Watershed

“Next Steps”

A longleaf pine seedling partially covered in flames.

Prescribed fire, a frequently recommended restoration action. Photo by John Maxwell, USFWS.

The focal area profiles that follow represent our efforts to date to pull together the best information on the next steps needed to conserve, protect and restore important habitats. While conservation actions are expressed in terms of the benefit they provide to our target species, we reference specific habitat features or conditions that are important to sustaining or increasing these species’ populations. We are dedicated to ensuring the protection and management not only of our federal trust resources (migratory birds, interjurisdictional fisheries, federally threatened and endangered species and public lands), but also of at-risk species and those of concern to our partners. Protecting these species means we also must conserve and protect their habitats.

This section does not, of course, list everything that needs to be done. Rather, the target objectives that we have identified and the next steps that we pose are what the Service believes to be the most compelling and have the greatest likelihood of success for our natural resource responsibilities in that focal area. We use habitat-related recommendations to paint a clearer picture for our partners to understand specific conservation actions we want to see pursued, but also so that they can more easily relate them to their own interests. The next steps are not organized by priority or sequence, but are offered as a package of actions for consideration. Some of these we will pursue ourselves; some our partners may wish to undertake on their own initiative. Many of these actions, however, will rely on the power of our partnerships to successfully implement. We invite our partners to join us in taking these next important steps in addition to helping us identify new conservation and restoration opportunities as we move forward.