February 13, 2018

Sensitive Coastal Habitat Added To Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge

BALDWIN COUNTY, Ala. — Today The Conservation Fund, the State of Alabama and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced the protection of 251 acres at the Little Point Clear Unit of the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge thanks to funding from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s (NFWF) Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund.

The Conservation Fund recently purchased and transferred the property to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) at the request of the Service and the State of Alabama. The addition of this land to the Refuge will provide for expanded fishing, wildlife viewing, photography, boating, paddling, walking trails, as well as other potential public recreational opportunities enjoyed by more than 100,000 visitors annually.

“This acquisition is a prime example of the commitment our state and federal partners share to ensure the protection of coastal Alabama for generations to come. I am proud to have worked to protect this land for all Alabamians to enjoy for recreational boating and fishing.” Governor Kay Ivey said.  “The State of Alabama appreciates the support of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation on this priority acquisition and is certainly grateful for The Conservation Fund’s hard work to bring it to fruition.  We look forward to continuing these partnerships in an effort to further protect our treasured natural resources.”

“We are so fortunate to have partners in conservation such as NFWF, The Conservation Fund, and the State of Alabama,” said Jereme Phillips, Refuge Complex Manager with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “Without their strong support, this project would have never happened. Acquiring this property will ensure that a large, contiguous tract of wildlife habitat is protected forever for the benefit of the American people.”

Located on the Fort Morgan Peninsula and adjacent to state and federally protected lands, the newly conserved property features a variety of coastal habitats at Navy Cove, including shoreline, pine flatwoods, saltwater marsh, freshwater lagoons and wetlands, dune systems, maritime forests, and tidal creeks. The site provides ideal habitat for numerous species, including, young adult Kemp's ridley sea turtles foraging for crab and other crustaceans, snowy plover, piping plover, Wilson's plover, as well as the endangered Alabama beach mouse during storm events. The conserved property has the potential to benefit manatees migrating through the northern gulf.

“While we cannot undo the damage done by the Deepwater Horizon spill, we can prioritize collaborative efforts that ensure a healthier Gulf Coast for both communities and wildlife,” said Ray Herndon, Director of the Central Gulf & Lower Mississippi Region for The Conservation Fund. “We are grateful to NFWF for recognizing the importance of enhanced protection for coastal resources, and we look forward to continuing efforts in partnership with the State and Service to secure priority habitat for improved management and public access.”  

NFWF’s Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund supports projects benefiting natural resources in and around the Gulf of Mexico by remedying damage and eliminating or reducing the risk of harm to Gulf Coast natural resources affected by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

“Protecting fish and wildlife habitat within the authorized boundaries of the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge has been a high priority for both the State of Alabama and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for many years,” said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. “NFWF is pleased to work with The Conservation Fund on this transaction in support of adding this important coastal habitat to the Refuge’s authorized boundaries.”

The Alabama Congressional delegation representing Baldwin County, including U.S. Senator Richard Shelby, U.S. Senator Doug Jones, former U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions, and U.S. Representative Bradley Byrne, have supported the ongoing efforts to enhance and strengthen the Little Point Clear Unit of the Refuge.

“The expansion of Little Point Clear and the preservation of this natural habitat is excellent news for Baldwin County and the entire state,” said Senator Shelby. “The Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge is an asset to our Gulf Coast. It is important that we do everything we can to ensure its safekeeping for future generations.”

“In Alabama, we know all too well how important a healthy coast is for both our economy and for future generations,” said Senator Jones. “Today’s announcement is another positive step towards restoring our natural habitats after the tremendous damage caused by the Deepwater Horizon Spill. I applaud The Conservation Fund, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and the State of Alabama for their commitment to protecting our wildlife along the coast and look forward to working with them in the future to continue preserving one of our state’s greatest assets.”

“I was glad to play a part in adding an additional 251 acres to Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge, a real asset to our community,” said Representative Byrne. “Protecting our coastal environment has long been a priority of mine, and this new land will give people along the Gulf Coast even more opportunities to explore our remarkable coastal ecosystem. I look forward to continuing my work with the various stakeholder groups on projects like this for the benefit of all Alabamians.”

The Conservation Fund is working with the Service and the State to protect an additional 236 acres of critical coastal habitat to the Refuge’s Little Point Clear Unit in the future. Together these two additions will increase the protected lands for wildlife and public recreation by approximately 25 percent at the Refuge.  

About The Conservation Fund
At The Conservation Fund, we make conservation work for America. By creating solutions that make environmental and economic sense, we are redefining conservation to demonstrate its essential role in our future prosperity. Top-ranked for efficiency and effectiveness, we have worked in all 50 states since 1985 to protect nearly eight million acres of land, including more than 230,000 acres across the Central Gulf Region. 

Ann Simonelli | The Conservation Fund | 703-908-5809 | asimonelli@conservationfund.org 
Jereme Phillips | U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service | (228) 497-6322 ext.105 | jereme_phillips@fws.gov