Conservation partnership permanently protects 675 acres of vital wetlands in Mississippi River Delta

675 acres of cypress-tupelo swamp (like those pictured above) will be permanently protected through the agreement. (Photo credit: USGS)

On Friday (Sept. 9), the National Audubon Society, Land Trust for Southeast Louisiana and The Conservation Fund announced the permanent protection of 675 acres of diverse wetland habitat near the town of Maurepas, La. This acquisition will enhance an ongoing, multi-partner effort to expand and preserve key ecosystems within the West Pontchartrain-Maurepas Swamp Important Bird Area (IBA)–an area that provides a critical link for millions of migratory birds between North American nesting grounds and wintering areas in Latin America. Additionally, these protected wetlands will provide critical hurricane and storm surge protection for nearby communities and infrastructure.

Comprised of open coastal swamp and forested wetland areas of cypress and tupelo trees, the protected land is home to numerous migratory waterfowl, Neotropical and waterbird species. With the permanent stewardship of these wetlands just north of the Maurepas Swamp Wildlife Management Area, the public will gain new places to bird-watch and explore, enhanced water quality, and, with other planned efforts, vital protection from floods and storm surges.

On approximately 25 acres of this particular project, Audubon will enhance the area’s resiliency and improve habitat for migratory birds and other wildlife by removing invasive plants and planting native tree and shrub species.

“The protection of this property preserves critical habitat for declining wetland birds and helps support the integrity of a large and important ecosystem,” said Melanie Driscoll, Audubon’s director of bird conservation for the Gulf Coast and Mississippi Flyway.

Funding for this acquisition was made available through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA), a federal grant program that provides matching grants for conservation projects benefiting all habitats, birds and wildlife associated with wetlands ecosystems. Over the past 20 years, NAWCA matching funds have protected, restored and enhanced approximately 26.5 million acres of wetland habitat across North America.

More information about this landmark decision can be found on Audubon’s website as well as The Times-Picayune.