The Mobile Bay National Estuary Program has been awarded a grant of $300,000 over two years by the Healthy Watersheds Consortium Grant Program managed by U. S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities with additional funding by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).
The project’s goal is to advance strategic protection of healthy habitat parcels in Mobile, Tombigbee, and Alabama River basins through the development of a Mobile Basin Habitat Atlas identifying healthy headwater habitat parcels in Alabama. The goal of the atlas is to protect over 10,000 acres of priority headwater habitats in the first year and a total of 100,000 acres in five to ten years.
The $300,000 awarded to Mobile Bay National Estuary Program represents an important start for their focus on the Tensaw/Apalachee watershed management planning due to begin this year. Watershed Management Planning is a key tool MBNEP uses to fulfil its mission to be good stewards of Alabama's estuaries. The resulting plan is an important first step in preserving water quality in our area's streams, rivers, and wetlands and depends on public involvement and “stakeholders” who know the area, recognize its problems, and are invested in its health and resilience. Each plan includes a watershed description that educates communities about the geography, geology, biology, ecology, and hydrology of the drainage area’s land and water. It identifies causes and/or sources of pollution or impairment, identifies gaps in data related to watershed conditions, and estimates pollutant loads that enter the receiving waters.
Mobile Bay NEP has completed Watershed Management Plans for D’Olive Creek, Three Mile Creek, Fowl River, Bon Secour, Weeks Bay, and Dog River. The Mississippi Sound Complex plan is under development, and Wolf Bay and Tensaw Appalache watersheds are next in line with the goal of completing all intertidal watersheds in coastal Alabama in the next few years.
In its third year, the Healthy Watersheds Consortium Grant Program is awarding 22 grants with more than $4 million to protect America’s watersheds with the goal of accelerating and expanding the strategic protection of healthy, freshwater ecosystems and their watersheds. EPA and The Endowment each committed $3.75 million and NRCS $3.5 million, to the six-year partnership. In this third year of the program, 76 applications requesting $14 million were received. This is the first Healthy Watersheds Consortium Grant received by the MBNEP.