For some waterfowl, the Mississippi Alluvial Valley is not a final destination, but a stopover on the way to a milder winter resort—the Gulf Coast. Stretching from the Mississippi-Louisiana state line, west and south to the mouth of the Rio Grande River, the marshes and bays of the Gulf of Mexico were once among the most productive wetland systems in North America. Today, the region's ability to support waterfowl has been severely compromised by natural and human-induced changes that have caused dramatic loss of wetlands and their associated functions and values. The Gulf Coast may winter upward of 14 million ducks and 2 million geese, making it among DU's highest priorities.
Importance to waterfowl
- Wintering habitat for large continental populations of several species: 95 percent of gadwall, 90 percent of mottled duck, 80 percent of green-winged teal, 80 percent of redheads, 60 percent of lesser scaup and 25 percent of pintails.
- Provides migration habitat for most of the blue-winged teal that winter in Central and South America and wintering habitat for mid-continent lesser snow and white-fronted geese.
- Gulf coastal marshes, especially in Louisiana, have been adversely affected by the construction of levees on the Mississippi River, the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway and numerous navigation canals.
- In the past 50 years, marsh has been lost at a peak rate of about 40 square miles annually.
- Coastal marsh is further threatened by global climate change and related sea level rise. Net losses of an additional 402,000 acres of coastal wetlands are expected to occur in the next 50 years in Louisiana alone.
- Coastal interior prairie wetlands have been heavily affected by agriculture.
- Recent declines in rice acreage in the region contribute to the loss of feeding and resting habitat.
DU's conservation focus
- DU and partners are working to restore, enhance and protect the region's remaining coastal wetlands.
- Encourage active management on private land through extensions and technical assistance efforts.
- DU has committed to providing $15 million to restore wetlands in coastal Louisiana.
States in the Gulf Coastal Prairie region
Louisiana | Texas