The State of Mississippi is continuing its efforts to protect and conserve marine, coastal, estuarine and riparian habitats through land acquisition projects funded from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill settlement.

Recently, the State of Mississippi acquired numerous coastal habitat properties for conservation and restoration through settlement funds provided by the Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund and the Natural Resource Damage Assessment.

“Mississippi is the most beautiful state in the nation,” said Governor Tate Reeves. “God blessed us with an abundance of natural resources, and we have a duty to maintain and conserve them. This newly acquired land will be protected for future generations of Mississippians to enjoy. That’s a legacy we can all take great pride in.”

The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality and its State partners, the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources, and the Mississippi Secretary of State, work together to identify and prioritize ecologically significant habitats that help restore injuries resulting from the 2010 oil spill.  Once acquired, the protection of these lands improves management and public access of both coastal wetlands and adjacent upland areas and secures habitat for threatened and endangered species. Conserving and protecting land parcels via acquisition and land management can protect sensitive wetlands and other coastal, estuarine and riparian habitats. Acquisition of parcels can create connections between protected areas; provide mechanisms for species management; provide nesting and foraging habitats for birds; protect freshwater inflows to estuaries; and improve coastal water quality.

“These recent land acquisitions will enhance our efforts to restore the state’s natural resources and protect and improve our Gulf Coast’s ecosystem for generations to come,” said Chris Wells, Executive Director of the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality.

“These newly acquired sites are vital to the protection of natural areas in coastal Mississippi and will be managed as conservation lands for future generations to enjoy,” said Mississippi Department of Marine Resources Executive Director Joe Spraggins. “The partnership that the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources has with the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality and the Mississippi Secretary of State’s Office is a prime example of state agencies utilizing the strengths of each individual agency to accomplish a common goal.”

The recently acquired properties include:

Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund

MDEQ, with its partners, facilitated the acquisition of coastal habitat utilizing funding through GEBF, which is administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. This Coastal Habitat Connectivity 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 project addresses land conservation needs by acquiring key land parcels that provide multiple long-term benefits for the Mississippi Gulf Coast ecosystem.

Recent acquisitions under the Coastal Connectivity project include:

Round Island

  • Acquisition on the remaining private parcels on Round Island totaled approximately 17.3 acres. Acquisition of this property will allow MDEQ and DMR to continue efforts to restore and expand the Round Island complex to create additional coastal habitat for species such as birds, and to facilitate additional projects such as the beneficial use of dredge material and habitat protection projects.

Wolf River Coastal Preserve

  • Acquisition of approximately 100 acres of marsh habitat in the Wolf River Coastal Preserve.

Jourdan River Coastal Preserve:

  • Acquisition of approximately 1,260 acres of pine savanna and marsh habitat along the Jourdan River and Bay of St. Louis. Additionally, this acquisition is part of a larger restoration initiative, which will include the construction of a living shoreline complex along the northwest shore of the Bay of St. Louis.
  • Acquisition of nearshore coastal wetland habitat totaling approximately 986 acres south of Interstate-10 along Highway 603.

Deepwater Horizon Natural Resource Damage Assessment Funding

Graveline Bay Land Acquisition and Management Project:

  • Funded through the Mississippi Trustee Implementation Group’s NRDA dollars, the Graveline Bay Land Acquisition and Management Project expands the permanent protection of critical ecosystems along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, helping to partially restore injuries caused by the oil spill. The project includes acquiring and managing up to a total of 1,410 acres within the existing Graveline Bay Coastal Preserve. Recently acquired property includes approximately 611 acres of coastal habitat within the Graveline Coastal Preserves adjacent to Graveline Bay.

Grand Bay Land Acquisition and Habitat Management Project:

  • This project includes 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. In addition, the land acquisition will facilitate public access for activities such as fishing, paddling, and wildlife watching in both coastal wetlands and adjacent upland areas. 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. Recently acquired property includes an additional 40 acres within the Grand Bay complex to facilitate habitat conservation and management.