Our Role

From 2014-2017, the Fund worked with nearly 100 partners, including landscape conservation cooperatives (LCC), state and federal agencies and NGOs to create a comprehensive, landscape-scale conservation strategy that addresses the health of wildlife, water and agriculture. 

Captioned the Mississippi River Basin/Gulf Hypoxia Initiative (MRB/GHI) Conservation Blueprint 2.0, the initiative developed an integrated framework to reduce the flow of nitrogen and phosphorous entering the Gulf to sustain wildlife, water and agriculture. The Conservation Fund, with funding support from the Eastern Tallgrass Prairie and Big Rivers LCC, provided 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 addition, through our Midwest offices in Minnesota, Illinois, Wisconsin, Missouri, Kansas and Michigan, the Fund works to protect natural and working lands; support farmers in deploying farming practices that minimize nutrient runoff; and partner with other innovators to address Gulf Hypoxia.

Why This Project Matters

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.

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

Read more:

Blog: Bringing a Dead Zone Back to Life
Blog: Gulf Hypoxia, and a New Conservation Tool on the CPA

Gulf Hypoxia Initiative
Mississippi River Basin/Gulf Hypoxia Initiative