Project List: 2015 Gulf Coast Conservation Grants Program

Projects supported through the Gulf Coast Conservation Grants Program fall under three areas of focus:

  • Supporting Critical Gaps in Gulf Coast Conservation
  • Catalyzing Conservation Solutions through Innovation and Technology
  • Capacity Building through Youth and Veteran Engagement 

Supporting Critical Gaps in Gulf Coast Conservation

CAPE SABLE RESTORATION IN EVERGLADES NATIONAL PARK (FL)
Lead Partner: The Everglades Foundation

Project
Description: Install dams at canals at Cape Sable, which is threatened by accelerated tidal erosion and the collapse of freshwater marsh soil. The cape contains critical wading bird habitat for the coastal Everglades and is the largest wintering shorebird habitat in North America. Cape Sable is also south Florida’s best defense against hurricanes approaching the peninsula from the south and west. In order to counter accelerated deposition of sediment and nutrient release from collapsed soils, the Everglades Foundation and National Park Service will plug canals that directly threaten the existence of this unique and important Gulf Coast ecosystem.

GULF STEWARDSHIP PROGRAM (LA, TX)
Lead Partner: Ducks Unlimited
Project Description: Provide technical and financial assistance to restore, enhance and protect 8,600 acres of agriculture wetlands and coastal marsh lands in the Chenier Plain of southwest Louisiana to benefit migratory waterfowl and shorebirds. The project will assemble a diverse team to work with local Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS) offices, rice farmers and other coastal landowners, filling critical gaps in Gulf Coast conservation and catalyzing conservation solutions through innovation and technology. This effort is proposed for funding under the new National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF)-NRCS partnership and sustains important private lands conservation work in southwest Louisiana previously funded through NFWF’s Recovered Oil Fund for Wildlife.

CATALYZING PRIVATE LANDOWNER CONTRIBUTIONS TO ALABAMA GULF COAST CONSERVATION (AL)
Lead Partner: Alabama Wildlife Federation
Project Description: Use capacity building, expanded partnerships, technical assistance and outreach to increase landowner engagement and on-the-ground stewardship implementation on private lands in Alabama’s Gulf Coast counties. The project will create, maintain, enhance and/or eliminate threats to habitats for shorebirds, waterbirds, and waterfowl, as well as terrestrial birds and wildlife.

GULF COAST GULLY RESTORATION INITIATIVE (AL)
Lead Partner: Baldwin County Soil & Water Conservation District
Project Description: Restore gullies in Baldwin County, Ala., using current engineering designs and practices combined with natural restoration techniques. The project will result in significant reductions in sediment and nutrient transport, peak discharge attenuation, and increased time of concentration to improve water quality both in the immediate project area as well as downstream.

MOBILE COUNTY SOIL & CONSERVATION DISTRICT HABITAT INCENTIVE PROGRAM (AL)
Lead Partner: Mobile County Soil & Water Conservation District
Project Description: Improve, restore and rehabilitate land through invasive species management. The project will provide conservation plans to land users and improve habitat on bottomland and adjacent uplands to control and/or eradicate invasive species that are detrimental to the gopher tortoise and ground-nesting birds.

ALAFIA BANK BIRD ISLAND OYSTER REEF HABITAT CREATION (FL)
Lead Partner: National Audubon Society
Project Description: Continue a nearshore breakwater installation at Bird Island, within the Alafia Bank Bird Sanctuary. The breakwater will protect habitat from erosion, provide oyster substrate, promote marshgrass and mangrove recruitment, enhance essential fish habitat, and provide forage for resident and migratory birds.

SHOREBIRD RECOVERY BUSINESS PLAN (FL)
Lead Partner: Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences
Project Description: Create a Florida shorebird recovery business plan built upon the work of NFWF’s Atlantic Flyway Shorebird Conservation Business Strategy and the American Oystercatcher Recovery Business Plan. The plan will strive to recover four imperiled species in the state: the American oystercatcher, snowy plover, black skimmer, and least tern.           

PRIORITIZING PREDATION MANAGEMENT FOR SEA TURTLES AND SHOREBIRDS (FL)
Lead Partner: Sea Turtle Conservancy
Project Description: Develop a coordinated and informed approach to allocating limited amounts of annual funding toward predation control programs for sea turtles and shorebirds throughout Florida. The project will facilitate the transferability of this approach to other Gulf States where shorebird and sea turtle nesting is impacted by predation.

COASTAL HABITAT RESTORATION IN NORTHWEST FLORIDA
Lead Partner: Northwest Florida State College Foundation
Project Description: Implement a community-based habitat restoration initiative that will restore 1.10 acres of oyster reef and salt marsh habitat, manage exotic invasive plant species, and educate and involve citizens through volunteer opportunities, youth technical training, educational handouts, and public workshops.

MISSISSIPPI COASTAL WATERSHED INITIATIVE (MS)
Lead Partner: Mississippi Land Trust
Project Description: Place a full-time coastal watershed coordinator in coastal Mississippi to help educate landowners about water quality-oriented Farm Bill programs. The project will assist landowners with sign-up and implementation for programs in order to greatly increase participation throughout the region.

UPLAND AND CONNECTING HABITAT PROTECTION FOR THE ENDANGERED DUSKY GOPHER FROG (MS)
Lead Partner: Land Trust for the Mississippi Coastal Plain
Project Description: Permanently protect 57 acres of private lands, including critical upland forested habitat essential to the survival of the federally endangered dusky gopher frog, through fee acquisition. The project is part of a larger, long-term strategy to support species population recovery through strategic habitat protection of 270 acres of upland, non-breeding habitat on private lands.

CLARK WEST WETLAND RESTORATION ON ANAHUAC NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE (TX)
Lead Partner: Texas Rice Industry Coalition for the Environment
Project Description: Create 252 acres of wetlands/moist soil unit habitat on the Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge. The project will eliminate invasive and exotic species from former rice farmland, construct levees, and install water controls structures to hold shallow freshwater. This will create high quality habitat for shorebirds, wading birds and waterfowl.

CANDY ABSHIER WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT AREA SHORELINE PROTECTION AND MARSH CREATION (TX)
Lead Partner: Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
Project Description: Prevent shoreline erosion in order to protect nesting and roosting habitat for black-crowned night herons and yellow-crowned night herons. The project will create salt marsh dominated by smooth cordgrass to provide protection from wave action, habitat for aquatic organisms, and foraging habitat for birds including herons and egrets.

RESTORING SHOREBIRD POPULATIONS AND BUILDING CAPACITY ON THE EASTERN GULF (AL, MS)
Lead Partner: Conservian
Project Description: Continue to work with partners at sites in Alabama and Mississippi to monitor and restore beach-nesting bird populations and habitats. The project will use standardized monitoring methods, best management practices, and supervision of local volunteer site stewards to implement comprehensive shorebird management.

GULF BEACH NESTING BIRD CONSERVATION ENHANCEMENT (LA, TX)
Lead Partner: American Bird Conservancy
Project Description: Increase protection, monitoring and public awareness at important nesting locations of beach-nesting birds to facilitate continued and increased breeding success. These activities will aid in the recovery of black skimmers and least terns, two species among the most negatively impacted by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The project will also directly contribute to setting goals for Wilson’s and snowy plovers.

Catalyzing Conservation Solutions through Innovation and Technology

BONEFISH AND TARPON FISHERIES RESTORATION (FL)
Lead Partner: Bonefish & Tarpon Trust
Project Description: Initiate a five-year program to demonstrate the potential to use stock enhancement as part of a broader conservation and restoration approach for the recreational bonefish and tarpon fisheries in south Florida. Given recent advances in knowledge of the reproductive and larval biology of these species, this program is now considered technically feasible and can help restore these tremendously valuable fisheries. The project will determine how to spawn and raise bonefish in captivity, identify release mechanisms that maximize bonefish survival, and implement controlled stock enhancement from a growout facility.

LESS-THAN-FEE BEACHFRONT ACQUISITION STRATEGIES TO PROTECT AND ENHANCE SEA TURTLE NESTING HABITAT (FL)
Lead Partner: Alachua Conservation Trust
Project Description: Conduct a feasibility assessment for using coastal easements for sea turtle conservation in Florida. Project will evaluate the acquisition of conservation easements and other interests on priority beachfront locations in order to preserve nesting sites.

BEACH NOURISHMENT PROFILE DESIGN TO MIMIC NATIVE, OPTIMAL SEA TURTLE NESTING BEACH (FL)
Lead Partner: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Project Description: Design a beach profile within each proposed beach nourishment project that better mimics the optimal sea turtle nesting beach for that area of beach. Following the data collection, the agencies will analyze the performance of that beach profile template and recommend modifications, if needed, for future events along the coastline.

MANAGEMENT EXPERIMENTS TO INCREASE BEACH-NESTING BIRD ABUNDANCE AT GULF ISLANDS NATIONAL SEASHORE (FL)
Lead Partner: SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry
Project Description: Implement experimental vehicle speed reduction measures and provide shelters for snowy plover chicks in order to increase the population of beach-nesting birds on Gulf Islands National Seashore. The area contains large beach-nesting bird populations, including 20-25 percent of the Florida population of the snowy plover, but abundance is limited by poor reproductive success related to predators and mortality from vehicular collisions.

RAINEY PRESERVE WETLAND RESTORATION (LA)
Lead Partner: National Audubon Society
Project Description: Use a commercial dredge to restore 5-10 acres of marsh at Audubon’s Rainey Sanctuary. The project will increase the integrity of 200 acres of the surrounding marsh and benefit various species of marsh birds of concern, as well as other estuarine species.

MARSH CREATION, WATERFOWL HABITAT ENHANCEMENT AND SHORELINE STABILIZATION IN LAFOURCHE PARISH (LA)
Lead Partner: Ducks Unlimited, Inc.
Project Description: Restore up to 4 miles of embankment along both sides of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway in Lafourche Parish, La., near the city of Larose, where rates of erosion have doubled. The project will promote vegetative growth and ultimately create a “living shoreline.”

MONTEGUT BALD CYPRESS FOREST MARSH RESTORATION AT POINTE-AUX-CHENES WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT AREA (LA)
Lead Partner: Restore the Earth Foundation
Project Description: Restore the first 200 acres of a 4,000-acre degraded coastal bald cypress forest marsh in Pointe-aux-Chenes Wildlife Management Area in Montegut, La.. Partners and volunteers will plant 20,000 native bald cypress trees on the tract, which will be monitored and evaluated annually by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

SHELLSTOCK BUDGETS FOR OYSTER MANAGEMENT (LA)
Lead Partner: Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries
Project Description: Locate, review and analyze existing oyster data sets to provide updated information on oyster growth and natural oyster mortality for incorporation into the Sustainable Oyster Shellstock model. The project is a combined effort of the University of New Orleans, Louisiana State University, and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.   

COMMUNITY-BASED OYSTER REEF RESTORATION (LA)
Lead Partner: Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana
Project Description: Engage 500 volunteers and utilize 700 tons of shell from the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana’s Oyster Shell Recycling Program to help construct a half-mile reef in Biloxi Marsh in Breton Sound, La.. The project will support critical gaps in Gulf Coast conservation by demonstrating the effectiveness of using recycled oyster shell to build self-sustaining oyster reefs along the Louisiana coast.

SEA TURTLE POPULATION MONITORING IN LOUISIANA NEARSHORE AND OFFSHORE WATERS
Lead Partner: Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries
Project Description: Utilize trawl capture methods to monitor changes in demographics of sea turtle populations. Project will initiate a pilot program for sea turtle monitoring in Louisiana in nearshore and offshore waters to establish the baseline for a Gulf-wide program.

GULF OF MEXICO BIRD MONITORING FRAMEWORK
Lead Partner: Mississippi State University
Project Description: Complete a structured decision-making effort to identify goals, objectives and values underpinning a Gulf-wide bird monitoring program. The resulting bird monitoring framework and decision support tools will provide a strong basis for increasing coordination and communication and the advancement of bird monitoring across the Gulf of Mexico.

SURVEY OF INCIDENTAL SEA TURTLE CATCH BY RECREATIONAL ANGLES (MS)
Lead Partner: Institute for Marine Mammal Studies
Project Description: Characterize the recreational fishery at access points in Mississippi to assess the rate of incidentally caught turtles and identify potential drivers of these interactions. Project will use angler count data, surveys, and rehabilitation data to infer how turtle interactions may be reduced in the Mississippi Sound and other areas in the Gulf of Mexico.

Capacity Building through Youth and Veteran Engagement

GULF CONSERVATION CORPS RESTORATION PROGRAM
Lead Partner: The Nature Conservancy
Project Description: Support two new Conservation Corps and a Veterans Conservation Corps pilot demonstration to undertake projects that restore and protect natural resources. The project will improve long-term habitat health for native plants and animals, build organizational strength to continue to use conservation corps as a significant strategy for Gulf restoration, and train young people to participate in the expanding Gulf restoration economy.

VETERANS PRESCRIBED FIRE CREW (MS, AL)
Lead Partner: Mississippi Land Trust
Project Description: Train and outfit a six-person prescribed fire crew composed of military veterans to conduct prescribed burns and other management activities in coastal Mississippi and Alabama. Activities will take place on sensitive, threatened and endangered species habitat on private and public lands to include open wet pine savannahs and upland longleaf pine on federal, state and private lands.