While factors on the breeding grounds tend to influence overall waterfowl populations more significantly than others, without sufficient winter and migration habitat, waterfowl return to the breeding grounds in poorer condition.
Poor body condition may reduce reproductive success, which lowers recruitment into the next year's fall flight. In short, habitat quantity and quality along the Gulf Coast is critical to waterfowl throughout the Mississippi and Central flyways.
Blue-winged teal, for example, spend only four to five months on the breeding grounds, relying for the remainder of the year on migration and wintering habitat, including Gulf Coast wetlands.
The loss of Gulf Coast marshes is not a local problem. It's a problem of continental significance for a variety of wildlife and for people across the country. For example:
- The Gulf Coast's economic impact is estimated at up to $47 billion per year.
- Gulf Coast marshes provide critical staging areas for migrant songbirds that nest across North America every spring. The region is also home to vast rookeries of wading birds and a host of other wetland dependent birds, wildlife and fish.
- 18 percent of the U.S. oil supply and 24 percent of its natural gas comes from Louisiana.
- Gulf Coast marshes are the year-round home of the West Gulf Coast population of mottled ducks. Emerging science suggests this species may be declining.
- 30 to 40 percent of the commercial seafood harvest in the United States comes from Louisiana.
- 500 million tons of waterborne cargo are funneled through Louisiana each year.
- Five of the largest ports in the United States are in Louisiana.
- The collapse of this region could jeopardize $100 billion in energy infrastructure alone.