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A beige landscape dotted with small lakes and wetlands yields to several arrays of large wind turbines.
Information icon In the United States, the Gulf of Mexico watershed reaches as far north as the Prairie Pothole region. This wind farm is located among some of region’s “potholes” found along the North and South Dakota border. Photo by Krista Lundgren, USFWS.

A Gulf-Wide Restoration Perspective

The Gulf of Mexico is recognized worldwide as a vast and productive body of water with tremendous value in ecological, economic and socio-cultural terms. It is important to recognize that the extensive benefits the nation receives from the Gulf’s natural resources are inextricably linked to the the ecological health of the Gulf’s watershed as a whole. Society’s investment in Gulf restoration will be at risk if we restore the Gulf Coast region but fail to address systemic problems that originate further up the watershed.

Three workers completely covered except for their faces in protective gear hold down and wash a brown pelican.
Gulf restoration, like the immediate response to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, requires extensive coordination and collaboration. Photo by Greg Thompson, USFWS.

The Gulf watershed is the largest watershed in North America. It is fed with water from 33 major rivers — including the Mississippi River, which captures runoff from 41 percent of the land area of the continental United States. No one entity has the capacity to successfully conduct restoration activities on such a geographic scale. The way to a healthy Gulf therefore must build on previous and existing opportunities, and rely on the strengths of partnerships that include state and local governments, academia, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), industry and private individuals.

Below are several restoration strategies proposed by governmental and nongovernmental entities that stem from an understanding that we must take a Gulf-wide perspective and rely on a collaborative spirit to successfully restore this great natural treasure.

Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration (RESTORE) Council

Deepwater Horizon Natural Resource Damage Assessment Trustee Council

Gulf of Mexico Alliance

The Nature Conservancy

National Wildlife Federation

Partnership for Gulf Coast Land Conservation

Audubon Society

For further information, please visit “Next Steps for a Healthy Gulf of Mexico.”

Gulf of Mexico Avian Monitoring Network (GoMAMN)

Recognizing the need to incorporate additional stakeholders, partners, expertise, and a more formalized means of coordinating and integrating avian monitoring activities across the Gulf of Mexico, the initial working group has evolved into the Gulf of Mexico Avian Monitoring Network. The Network aims to provide a forum by which conservation partners can collaborate and implement a coordinated monitoring system that recognizes and builds upon established monitoring programs to connect, leverage, and integrate existing efforts into a comprehensive Gulf-wide avian monitoring program to address contemporary and long-term conservation needs of avian populations and their habitats within the Gulf of Mexico.

Contact Randy Wilson (randy_wilson@fws.gov) for more information.

Gulf of Mexico Marine Assessment Program for Protected Species (GoMMAPPS)

The Gulf of Mexico (GoM) region is critically important in affording breeding, staging, and wintering habitats for North America’s migratory avian resources. Unfortunately, limited information is available to quantitatively characterize species composition, distribution, and abundance of birds Gulfwide, and particularly for seabirds. The number of platforms and cumulative level of oil and gas activity in the northern GoM region exceeds all other Bureau of Ocean Energy Management regions combined. As a result, such information is important for assisting decision-making related to offshore resource extraction in an effort to mitigate potential effects to avian resources. The GoMMAPPS Seabird Project is anticipated to be the most spatially and temporally extensive avian research effort in the northern GoM, intended to document the distribution, abundance, and diversity of birds for the purposes of better informing regulatory decisions that influence the conservation of migratory birds. A key component of this project includes identifying and determining how natural and anthropogenic variables of the northern GoM influence avian species in nearshore and pelagic environments of this region.

Contact Jeff Gleason (jeffrey_gleason@fws.gov) for more information.

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