The Alabama Trustee Implementation Group is pleased to announce the acquisition of the East Gateway Tract in Weeks Bay. Located at the mouth of the Bay and adjacent to Weeks Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve holdings, the State of Alabama acquired the tract for the purposes of protecting and conserving marine, coastal, estuarine, and riparian habitats injured in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. We approved the East Gateway Land Acquisition Project in our second post-settlement restoration plan, which was approved in September 2018.
The tract is roughly 175 acres of critically important and diverse land that includes micro-dune habitat, tidal streams, marshland, and forested wetlands. The marsh edge provides valuable nursery habitat for a host of estuarine organisms, including shrimp, crabs, and fish. Hundreds of species of migratory and non-migratory birds use the habitat, while more than a dozen resident species of shorebirds are found at the edges and within the property, along with a representative array of wetland plants and animals. The diamondback terrapin, an Alabama species of concern, has been found in upland areas of the site.
“The East Gateway tract is the front porch of Weeks Bay. The acreage provides incredible habitat for fish and wildlife and invites people into the Bay. The water surrounding East Gateway is a prime fishing location with a prevalence of redfish and speckled trout,” said Yael Girard, Weeks Bay Foundation Land Consultant. “The Foundation and East Gateway owners worked for years to find a way to protect the land from development. This acquisition is a tremendous achievement for conservation, recreation, and future research.”
The East Gateway Tract is now owned and will be managed by the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources State Lands Division. Conservation of the tract will keep the front facing land at the mouth of Weeks Bay, and its associated hydrology, habitats, and wildlife intact for generations.