Reviving a Dead Zone in the Gulf of Mexico
The Mississippi River Basin/Gulf Hypoxia Initiative (MRB/GHI) is in the process of developing an integrated framework to reduce the flow of nitrogen and phosphorous entering the Gulf to sustain wildlife, water and agriculture. The Conservation Fund is assisting in this effort, funded by the Eastern Tallgrass Prairie and Big Rivers LCC, by providing data and mapping support to identify conservation opportunities that will have the least impact on farmland and the most benefit to the environment and water quality. The MRB/GHI framework consists of multiple objectives focusing on:
- Wildlife, water quality and agriculture;
- A tiered set of conservation strategies within five production agriculture systems — corn and soybeans, grazing lands, floodplain forest, rice and cotton; and
- A modeling approach to determine where to best implement those actions within four key ecological systems of the Mississippi River Basin.
In many Midwestern states, natural habitat that was converted into farmland for crops such as corn and soy, has increased the flow of nutrients into the Mississippi River and in turn the Gulf of Mexico, adversely affecting shrimpers, fisheries, and the Gulf’s natural habitat. By using data and modeling, the initiative will be able to employ land management strategies to align upstream and downstream interests, like targeting marginal cropland that isn’t productive for conservation and working with farmers on sustainable agricultural production methods.
Why This Project Matters
The data and mapping support provided by The Conservation Fund has been critical to developing a Precision Conservation Blueprint for the Mississippi River Basin/Gulf Hypoxia Initiative. Their expertise allowed a multi-sector stakeholder group to visualize an objectives-driven conservation design that can guide alignment of conservation investments for dozens of agencies and organizations in the Basin. This spatial analysis operates in two scales to clarify the overall context and identify highest-priority opportunities in pilot basins where conservation practices can benefit water quality and wildlife, as well as strengthen sustainable agricultural productivity." —Gwen White, Ph.D., Eastern Tallgrass Prairie and Big Rivers LCC Science Coordinator, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Blog: Gulf Hypoxia, and a New Conservation Tool on the CPA
Gulf Hypoxia, Eastern Tallgrass Prairie and Big Rivers LLC
Mississippi River Basin/Gulf Hypoxia Initiative