NFWF Announces Two Additional Projects on the Gulf Coast

New Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund Projects in Alabama and Mississippi Will Benefit Vital Habitats for Fish and Wildlife

WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 10, 2016) - The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) today announced two new projects funded by the Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund (GEBF) in Alabama and Mississippi. The projects, developed in consultation with state and federal resource agencies, are designed to remedy harm and reduce the risk of future harm to natural resources that were affected by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

The two projects announced today are:

Alabama Coastal Bird Stewardship Program

This project will conserve priority shorebird and coastal waterbird populations by establishing a two-year bird stewardship, monitoring, and outreach program in coastal Alabama. The Alabama Coast’s beaches, marshes, and islands provide critical nesting, wintering, and migratory stopover habitat for many species of shorebirds and coastal waterbirds.  These coastal bird populations continue to decline, and degradation and human disturbance of habitat remains the leading stressors to these populations. This project will work to improve the status of bird species of conservation concern through training of volunteers to steward and monitor targeted and other species and their habitat at key nesting sites in the state.  

The expansion of stewardship activities is complimentary to similar efforts in Florida and Mississippi, currently funded by the Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund and the Natural Resources Damage Assessment program, and extends stewardship efforts for shorebirds and coastal seabirds to critical nesting habitat across the northern Gulf of Mexico.

For additional information on GEBF projects in Alabama, please click here.

Acquisition of Priority Tracts for Coastal Habitat Connectivity - Phase I

This project seeks to enhance coastal habitat connectivity and increase core conservation areas within the Mississippi Coastal Preserves system, the Gulf Islands National Seashore, and the Grand Bay National Wildlife Refuge.  The conservation of coastal habitats is one of the fundamental steps in building and maintaining a sustainable, resilient coastal environment. This project will address this conservation need by acquiring key land parcels that provide multiple long-term benefits for the Mississippi Gulf Coast ecosystem.  Priority parcels have been identified, utilizing the Mississippi Comprehensive Ecosystem Restoration Tool (MCERT), based on several key factors including adjacency to land parcels that are currently managed by the State or Federal Government, the existence of a target species or habitat, and/or the susceptibility to changing conditions, such as marsh migration, changes in water salinity or quality, altered fire regime, etc. This approach represents a significant opportunity to expand and complement existing conservation land through targeted, science-based acquisition. This project will leverage approximately $13,500,000 in RESTORE funding.

For additional information on GEBF projects in Mississippi, please click here.

As required under the plea agreements, NFWF consulted with state resource agencies, as well as with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), to identify potential project priorities and funding needs. The discussions ensured coordination between NFWF’s GEBF and the agencies’ related activities under the Natural Resource Damage Assessment and RESTORE Act programs.

The projects announced today will complement those previously announced under these two additional significant programs. Collectively, and where appropriate, these efforts will be coordinated and leveraged to advance Gulf Coast conservation and maximize environmental benefits.

NFWF created the GEBF in 2013 as the vehicle to receive and administer funds resulting from remedial orders in the plea agreements between the U.S. Department of Justice and BP and Transocean. The plea agreements resolved certain criminal charges against both companies relating to the 2010 oil spill. Provisions within the agreements direct a total of $2.544 billion to NFWF over a five-year period to be used to support projects that remedy harm to natural resources in the Gulf States.

NFWF, a congressionally chartered non-profit corporation, is one of the largest conservation funders in the United States. It is subject to oversight by Congress and a board of directors that includes the heads of the FWS and NOAA, as well as representatives from states, non-governmental organizations and industry. The board is appointed by the Secretary of the Interior.

 

 Contact:

 
Rob Blumenthal, 202-857-0166