Mississippi Coastal Habitats Benefitting From Restoration and Management Project
The Mississippi Trustee Implementation Group’s Grand Bay Land Acquisition and Habitat Management project is providing benefits to the Grand Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, and Grand Bay Savanna Coastal Preserve. The project includes acquisition of properties to protect habitat, large-scale habitat management, and restoration of target habitats within the project area.
These activities are helping restore wetland, coastal, and nearshore habitats in Mississippi as well as bird species injured by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The project is protecting and restoring thousands of acres of relatively undisturbed habitats on state and federal lands. They include pine savanna and flatwoods, freshwater forested wetlands, freshwater and coastal marsh wetlands, open water in tidal creeks and bayous, and beaches. These numerous and varying landscapes provide habitat for an array of wildlife and unique plant communities including a number of threatened and endangered species.
Since 2017, the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality and the Department of the Interior with project partners at the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources have been hard at work restoring native coastal habitats through the use of prescribed fire and mechanical clearing. These techniques mimic natural ecological processes, particularly seasonal wildfires that historically shaped this coastal ecosystem. Management activities to maintain healthy habitat also include prescribed fire and mechanical clearing, as well as chemical treatment of invasive species.
Monitoring restoration success will be performed over a 15-year period. The conservation and management of coastal habitats is one of the fundamental steps in building and maintaining a sustainable, resilient coastal environment.