Million-Acre Southeast Salt Marsh Conservation Plan Gets Green Light
Thursday, May 6, 2021
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- An initiative to conserve a million acres of salt marsh from Northeast Florida to North Carolina is in motion, following approval Tuesday from the Southeast Regional Partnership for Planning and Sustainability (SERPPAS).
A coalition of groups representing anglers, hunters, birders, boaters, local officials and conservationists pushed for the plan along with The Pew Charitable Trusts.
Cameron Jaggard, outreach coordinator for Pew's Conserving Marine Life in the U.S. project, noted protecting coastlines from flooding, erosion, and storm surge, and preserving habitats are all part of the bigger picture of the conservation plan.
"Salt marsh provides shelter, food and nursery grounds for more than 75% of commercial recreational fish species in the country," Jaggard explained. "And that includes blue crab, redfish and flounder, as well as valuable waterfowl, and imperiled bird species, including black duck and Eastern black rail."
NOAA estimates 80,000 acres of wetlands are lost every year from development and rising sea levels. Jaggard confirmed the plan's development will begin immediately, with a draft conservation plan expected for 2022.
Meg Palmsten, research oceanographer for the U.S. Geological Survey and chair of the SERPPAS Coastal Resilience and Regional Adaptation Working Group, hopes to dive deeper for solutions to coastal hazards.
"Something I'm most interested in dissipating wave energy, and providing space for storm surge to reside when there's a storm that's pushing water up into our estuaries," Palmsten remarked. "And so it's a natural place to sort of act as a buffer between the dynamic ocean and the land where we live."
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, salt marshes absorb flooded waters and wave energy during storms. This creates an up to 20% decrease in property damage in adjacent communities.
Jaggard noted the plan will try to protect Southeast coastal communities and military bases.
"A comprehensive conservation plan could help communities, and the military, better prepare for the future through coordinated, forward thinking transportation, targeted restoration projects and conservation of adjacent open lands," Jaggard outlined.
He added the plan will be modeled after America's Longleaf Restoration Initiative, which already has increased the trees' population by 40% in the last 10 years.
References:Southeast Regional Partnership for Planning and Sustainability
Pew Trusts salt marsh facts March 1, 2021
NOAA - Status and Trends of Wetlands in the Coastal Watersheds October 2013
National Academy of Sciences coastal wedlands research March 17, 2020
NOAA salt marsh facts February 26, 2021
NOAA report on property damage
America's Longleaf Restoration Initiative
get more stories like this via email
Health and Wellness
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Saturday is National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, when the Drug Enforcement Administration encourages everyone to clean out …
Health and Wellness
BALTIMORE - This month marks the four-year anniversary of the #MeToo movement, and an art project aims to help incarcerated survivors heal by telling …
OGDEN, Utah - Utah is one of only a handful of states that taxes food, but one state legislator says taxing groceries should become a thing of the …
CASPER, Wyo. - A strong majority of voters across party lines say they want national rules similar to those passed in Wyoming to reduce methane …
Health and Wellness
ARLINGTON, Va. - Although COVID-19 rates have gone down, the virus continues to hit the Hispanic community especially hard. Now, a new campaign aims …
BISMARCK, N.D. - A portion of American Rescue Plan funding sent to North Dakota has yet to be divvied up. Groups that want to improve the child-care …
PITTSBURGH - As businesses across the country deal with a massive labor shortage, Pennsylvania aims to entice people back to the workplace by …
ALBANY, N.Y. - Environmental groups want Gov. Kathy Hochul to sign a bill that mandates monitoring the state's drinking water for "emerging …