Project List: 2016 Gulf Coast Conservation Grants Program

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

  • Supporting Critical Gaps in Gulf Coast Conservation
  • Catalyzing Conservation Solutions through Innovation and Technology

Supporting Critical Gaps in Gulf Coast Conservation

EXAMINING HABITAT USE, MOVEMENT AND SURVIVAL OF JUVENILE GULF STURGEON IN PENSACOLA BAY (FL)
Lead Partner: Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission
Project Description: Evaluate juvenile Gulf sturgeon recruitment and characterize large scale movements and seasonal habitat use within Pensacola Bay drainages. In addition, project will develop techniques to capture young-of-the-year Gulf sturgeon. Results will be used to develop a program to monitor the status and trends of juvenile Gulf sturgeon populations and inform future conservation projects to protect and enhance spawning and rearing habitat.

COMMUNITY-BASED HABITAT RESTORATION IN ST. ANDREW BAY (FL)
Lead Partner: St. Andrew Bay Resource Management Association
Project Description: Implement community-based living shoreline habitat restoration programs in the St. Andrew Bay watershed. Project will restore and enhance a total of 0.4 acres of coastal wetlands and perform education and outreach activities. Outcomes include habitat restoration that will increase community resiliency and enhanced environmental stewardship.

ROBINSON PRESERVE OYSTER REEF HABITAT ENHANCEMENT (FL)
Lead Partner: Manatee County Board of County Commissioners
Project Description: Enhance a larger habitat improvement effort occurring at Robinson Preserve in Manatee County by creating 2 acres of new oyster reef habitat within the preserve.

CALCASIEU LAKE AND SABINE NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE OYSTER REEF RESTORATION (LA)
Lead Partner: The Nature Conservancy
Project Description: Build 2,640 linear feet (0.5 miles) of vertical oyster reef structure along rapidly eroding shorelines of Calcasieu Lake within Sabine National Wildlife Refuge. Project will protect critical coastal marsh that supports a high diversity of fish and wildlife populations, create fisheries habitat, enhance estuary water quality, and slow shoreline retreat, thereby increasing the resiliency of nearby coastal communities.

CHENIER PLAIN WATERFOWL PROGRAM (LA)
Lead Partner: Ducks Unlimited
Project Description: Restore and enhance 5,000 acres of coastal wetlands on priority lands in the Chenier Plain of Louisiana, one of the world’s most valuable ecosystems and crucial waterfowl wintering grounds. Project will restore the hydrologic integrity of degraded tracts using water control structures, levee work, plantings and technical assistance through marsh management plans.

SOUTHWEST LOUISIANA VOLUNTEER MARSH HABITAT RESTORATION
Lead Partner: Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana
Project Description: Restore and enhance 100 acres of newly created marsh habitat by engaging 300 volunteers to plant 120,000 marsh grass plugs and conduct basic ecological monitoring along the western edge of Vermilion Bay. Project will maximize the ability to protect the bay from erosion, reverse wetland conversion to open water, and provide habitat for fish and both resident and migratory birds.

COASTAL WETLAND RESTORATION IN SOUTHEASTERN LOUISIANA
Lead Partner: Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation
Project Description: Restore swamp forest to establish habitat for 18 species of concern and increase storm surge protection for the largest urban areas in southeastern Louisiana. Project will plant 7,000 new swamp trees on a total of 36 acres and engage and educate 760 volunteers. Monitoring will track the success of these plantings as well as 184 previously planted acres for a total of 220 acres.

CONSERVATION EASEMENT ACQUISITION IN THE LAGUNA MADRE WATERSHED (TX)
Lead Partner: The Nature Conservancy
Project Description: Acquire conservation easements on two adjacent parcels in the Laguna Madre watershed in south Texas, totaling 562 acres. The parcels are immediately adjacent to Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge and located in the Lower Rio Grande Valley Conservation Corridor, an ecologically important area for waterfowl, raptors, waterbirds, and endangered and threatened species including ocelots and aplomado falcons.

CONSERVATION OF WORKING LANDS ON THE TEXAS GULF COAST
Lead Partner: Texas Agricultural Land Trust
Project Description: Conduct intensive outreach on the importance of conserving working lands along the Texas Gulf Coast to accelerate conservation easement transactions in the region. Goals will be accomplished through landowner meetings and workshops, targeted outreach, and partnerships with other conservation organizations including the Natural Resources Conservation Service and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

DOLLAR BAY-MOSES LAKE SHORELINE ENHANCEMENT AND RESTORATION (TX) - II
Lead Partner: Galveston Bay Foundation
Project Description: Construct nearshore segmented breakwater structures to halt shoreline erosion on Moses Lake and place materials to restore elevations suitable to support emergent vegetation and upland coastal species in Dollar Bay. Project will protect up to 4,000 linear feet of vulnerable shoreline and adjacent habitat along Moses Lake and restore 30 acres of degraded estuarine marsh habitat in Dollar Bay.

REDUCED IMPACTS TO SEA TURTLES THROUGH SHRIMP INDUSTRY ENGAGEMENT (AL, LA, MS)
Lead Partner: Audubon Nature Institute
Project Description: Increase sea turtle protection by expanding the ‘Tow the Time’ education campaign for shrimp fishermen and implementing community-based workshops for the skimmer fleet of the northern Gulf of Mexico in Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi. Industry workshops will educate fishermen on current and upcoming proposed regulations, the logistics and benefits of turtle excluder devices (TEDs), and the importance of carrying observers on their vessels.

WHOOPING CRANE REINTRODUCTION TO SOUTHEASTERN U.S. - IV
Lead Partner: Operation Migration
Project Description: Support monitoring and outreach efforts in support of conserving the critically endangered whooping crane and building a self-sustaining population in the Southeast. Project will include tracking and monitoring the young-of-year cranes post release, as well as the adult cranes in the population during north/south migration flights and nesting activities in spring, and conducting web outreach to increase general awareness and provide migration progress updates.

LAND CONSERVATION CAPACITY BUILDING IN THE GULF OF MEXICO (AL, FL, MS, TX)
Lead Partner: Partnership for Gulf Coast Land Conservation
Project Description: Promote best practices and efficiencies among various practitioners to achieve land conservation goals of emerging state and federal conservation plans for the Gulf. Project will provide capacity building and technical assistance to partner organizations, identify best practices and efficiencies for implementing landscape level conservation and assist in implementation by enhancing collaboration among public agencies and NGOs.

Catalyze Conservation Solutions through Innovation and Technology

OYSTER SHELL RECYCLING AND RESTORATION IN COASTAL ALABAMA
Lead Partner: Alabama Coastal Foundation
Project Description: Initiate a pilot oyster shell recycling program in coastal Alabama by coordinating local partners to implement a comprehensive outreach strategy to engage both local restaurants and the public and restore oyster reef in Mobile Bay. Through this pilot effort, at least 550 cubic yards of oyster shell will be recovered from restaurants to restore local reefs and educate the public on the value of oysters to the ecosystem and the benefits of oyster shell recycling. Project partners will also develop a comprehensive business plan to show the long-term sustainability of the program once the pilot project is complete.

MOTUS TOWER NETWORK FOR WESTERN GULF AVIAN RESOURCE ASSESSMENT (TX)
Lead Partner: Gulf Coast Bird Observatory
Project Description: Establish 15 Motus Wildlife Tracking System towers across the mid and upper Texas coast to collect data on a variety of migratory bird species across the western Gulf. Motus is an automated radio-telemetry system that will allow researchers to track the movements of radio-tagged birds through the landscape with unprecedented temporal precision. Project will help determine the use and importance of various landscapes to the species throughout their annual cycle, aiding in more effective conservation and management strategies for migratory birds.

IMPORTANT SEA TURTLE HABITAT IDENTIFICATION THROUGH GENETIC INDICATORS (AL, FL, LA, MS)
Lead Partner: University of Central Florida
Project Description: Sample, satellite tag and track oceanic stage sea turtles caught offshore in the eastern Gulf of Mexico. Results will help researchers understand environmental and genetic mechanisms driving sea turtle habitat use during their early developmental years, closing a major gap in the uncertainty surrounding recruitment dynamics from the oceanic stage.

COMPREHENSIVE SPRING AND FALL MIGRATORY BIRD ASSESSMENT ON THE GULF OF MEXICO (AL, FL, LA, MS, TX)
Lead Partner: Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute
Project Description: Map the distribution, abundance, timing and habitat affiliations of birds during the spring and fall migrations around the Gulf of Mexico coast using weather radar and citizen-collected (eBird) data. Resulting maps will be used by conservation planners and policymakers as decision support tools to develop Gulf-wide conservation priorities for North America’s migratory birds.