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First Emergency Restoration Project Following Gulf Oil Spill Comes to Miss.

By Lawayne Childrey | Published 21 Jan 2011 07:25am | comments
New protection for wetland habitats

Thousands of migrating waterfowl and shorebirds now have additional refuge in Mississippi. MPB's Lawayne Childrey reports how the state is taking part in one of the first restoration projects following the Gulf oil spill.

The Deep Horizon oil spill has already claimed the lives of birds, sea creatures, plant life, even humans in and along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. As cleanup efforts continue, Mike Beiser, lead scientist for natural disaster assessment on the coast, says the very people who are assisting in cleanup efforts could also be a major threat to thousands of surviving birds.

"Being skittish creatures by their very nature would probably not wanna settle in those areas down along the gulf coast. So were going to create some homes for them as they come a little further north. It's very critical that they have a place to feed. It's very critical that they have a place to rest."

That's why Ed Penny with the Mississippi Department of Wildlife Fisheries and Parks is excited about the renovations being made to the Howard Miller Wildlife Management area near Rolling Fork.

"The Mississippi flyaway which we're in here in Mississippi is what I consider kind of a chain of wetland habitats stretching from Canada down to the Gulf of Mexico. Howard Miller, WMA is one link in that chain. The Gulf being the bottom end of that chain and right now the gulf has been affected and so what we're trying to do is make one of those links kinda stronger which we hope will keep them healthy and help them fly back north when they move back in the spring."

Strengthening the flyaway includes adding more mudflat's and shallow water habitat for breeding, immigration and wintering. Mississippi Wildlife Management Supervisor Steven Chandler says the goal is to attract migratory and native species to the restored area where possible oil contamination is unlikely.

"They come down the Mississippi fly away from their nesting grounds in winter in these wetland habitats along the Gulf Coast. Well since they've been degraded and in some cases destroyed we're trying to stop the birds, provide extra habitat north of that area so they won’t have to go down there in that area and be in subpar habitat."

Funding for the project is provided by BP under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990. Physical work is expected to begin in February. Lawayne Childrey MPB News.



New protection for wetland habitats



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