On December 21, 2018, the State of Mississippi acquired approximately 1,500 acres of coastal wildlife habitat at the Grand Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, and the Grand Bay Savanna Coastal Preserve in Jackson County. The acquisition is a component of the Mississippi’s Trustee Implementation Group’s Grand Bay Land Acquisition and Habitat Management project, a project included in the Mississippi Restoration Area 2016-2017 Restoration Plan/Environmental Assessment. The project expands the permanent protection of critical ecosystems along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, helping to partially restore injuries caused by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
The 2016-2017 Restoration Plan allocated $6 million for the acquisition of up to 8,000 acres of coastal marsh, beach, freshwater marsh, savannas and flatwoods, and forested freshwater scrub-shrub and for habitat management of up to 17,500 acres of the same. In addition to habitat protection, the land acquisition will facilitate habitat management and public access for activities such as fishing, paddling, and wildlife watching in both coastal wetlands and adjacent upland areas. With this purchase, a contiguous protected landscape of approximately 25,000 acres now exists across coastal Mississippi and Alabama.
The acquisition was completed with the assistance of the Mississippi Secretary of State and The Conservation Fund. Associated habitats will be managed collaboratively by the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources and United States Fish and Wildlife Service. The U.S. Department of the Interior and Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality are co-implementing Trustees for the Project.
The Grand Bay National Refuge and Reserve both host over 260 migratory bird species each year. They include brown pelicans, semipalmated plovers, Wilson’s plovers, clapper rails, mottled ducks, teals, reddish egrets, and others injured by the 2010 spill.