Steering Committee

Fowl River Forever is an unprecedented opportunity to protect a precious asset -- the Fowl River watershed -- while accomodating growth and change. Through this effort we will safeguard the environmental, cultural, recreational, and economic value of the Fowl River watershed for future generations.

A diverse Steering Committee has been appointed to guide the Fowl River Forever process. This committee, which represents a broad range of interests in the watershed, is a working group that will serve as advocates for Fowl River Forever and help make recommendations about the process and the substance of the vision. The group will meet monthly. Following is a list of the members of the Steering Committee:

Frequently Asked Questions

Fowl River Forever is an unprecedented opportunity to protect a precious asset -- the Fowl River watershed -- while accomodating growth and change. Through this effort we will safeguard the environmental, cultural, recreational, and economic value of the Fowl River watershed for future generations.

What is the Fowl River Watershed?

A river’s watershed includes all of the land that, when it rains, the stormwater flows into channels or streams that make their way to the river.  Activities in a watershed are closely linked to the health of local streams, rivers, and bays.  The Fowl River Watershed encompasses 52,782 acres, drains much of southern Mobile County, and is a direct contributor to Mobile Bay. Its headwaters are located near the Mobile suburb of Theodore, AL.  The river splits just south of Bellingrath Gardens into East Fowl River, which flows northeasterly into Mobile Bay, and West Fowl River, which flows south into Mississippi Sound. Land cover in the Fowl River Watershed is varied and characterized as urban (21%), crop or pasture land (15%), and forested (63%).

What is a watershed management plan (WMP)?

A WMP is an essential first step in maintaining or improving water quality in a watershed and mitigating the impacts of future development pressures. It provides documentation of existing environmental conditions and challenges while offering a vision and strategy for protecting the physical, chemical, and biological integrity for wildlife and human uses.

Why is this being done?

The Fowl River watershed is special resource and serves many important functions for its surrounding communities. It is livelihood for some, a recreation amenity to others, and of regional economic importance to many. There is a need to better understand the condition and value of the watershed and to identify opportunities to ensure its long-term health.  Concerns include loss of wetlands and shoreline due to recreational boat use and continuing erosion and sedimentation due to certain development activities.

What is the role of the Mobile Bay National Estuary Program (MBNEP)?

The mission of the MBNEP is to promote wise stewardship of the water quality characteristics and living resource base of the Mobile Bay estuarine system. In this capacity, MBNEP will provide oversight and basic coordination support for the WMP.

Who is in charge of the process? Who is on the steering committee?

The process is community-driven and led by a steering committee. This group is a cross-section of the community and includes representatives from businesses, civic groups, environmental organizations, government agencies, residents, and others. It also includes representation from different geographic locations within the watershed.

What will the steering committee do?

The steering committee will guide the planning process from start to finish, including preparing recommendations based on community input and technical analysis.

How can I get involved?

We need your input! Several community meetings will be held to gather information from those who live in the watershed or have an interest in Fowl River.  Observations, concerns, and suggestions that are shared at these meetings will help inform the WMP. In preparing for these meetings a number of volunteers will be required for outreach and publicity. If you would like to become involved, please contact Lee Walters via email at lee.walters@gmcnetwork.com or phone at 251-460-4006. Please attend the community meetings and invite your friends.

What is the role of the consultant team?

The Mobile Bay National Estuary Program has awarded the WMP contract to a consultant, Goodwyn, Mills & Cawood, who will work with planning NEXT and the Alabama Cooperative Extension System on the public participation activities. The consultant team has extensive experience throughout the region and the United States developing WMPs and similar plans. The consultant team will facilitate the process, conduct technical research for the WMP, and draft materials for review by MBNEP, the steering committee, and the public, that will form the basis of the WMP.

How long will it take?

The planning process is expected to last 12 months. Implementation of the WMP will be ongoing.

What is the most important thing I can do to help?

The most important thing you can do is get involved in the planning process.  Share your thoughts and suggestions for Fowl River now and in the future.  Attend the community meetings and help spread the word to others. Questions may be addressed to Lee Walters via email at lee.walters@gmcnetwork.com or phone at 251-460-4006.

Background on the Fowl River Watershed

Fowl River Forever is an unprecedented opportunity to protect a precious asset -- the Fowl River watershed -- while accomodating growth and change. Through this effort we will safeguard the environmental, cultural, recreational, and economic value of the Fowl River watershed for future generations.

Watershed Size and Location
The Fowl River Watershed (HUC 031602050206) encompasses 52,782 acres, drains much of southern Mobile County, and is a direct contributor to Mobile Bay. Its headwaters are located near the Mobile suburb of Theodore, AL and it splits just south of Bellingrath Gardens into East Fowl River, which flows northeasterly into Mobile Bay, and West Fowl River, which flows south into Mississippi Sound. Land use in the Fowl River Watershed is varied and characterized as urban, residential, and rural. Twenty-one percent of the watershed area is classified as urban, 15% as crop or pasture land, and 63% as forested. Stakeholder concerns include loss of wetlands and shoreline erosion, largely related to recreational boat use. Increasing development and continuing erosion and sedimentation threaten water and habitat quality.


Main Tributaries and Tidal Influence
Fowl River has only two named tributaries, both of which are located in the central portion of the watershed. Muddy Creek originates east of Bellingrath Road, approximately two miles north of Laurendine Road (CR 24), and flows south for 4.5 miles to its confluence with Fowl River near Fowl River Road (CR 20). Dykes Creek originates less than a mile east of Muddy Creek, south of CR 24, and flows south for 2.5 miles to its confluence with Fowl River just south of CR 20. Due to its close proximity to Mobile Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, the lower portions of the watershed are tidally influenced. Based on field observations and water quality analysis from the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM), under normal conditions tidal influence extends north from the mouth of East Fowl River past its confluence with Muddy Creek near CR 20. ADEM monitoring stations north of CR 20 have not detected tidal influence except under extreme conditions, such as excessive storm surge.


Impervious Coverage
Over the last decade, more attention has been paid to the effects of non-point source pollution as a significant contributor to water quality degradation. Of particular importance is the correlation between increased impervious surfaces (roads, parking lots, sidewalks, rooftops, etc.) and decreased quality of receiving waters. Studies show that impairment to streams occurs when the amount of impervious cover within a watershed exceeds 10%. A 2006 analysis of impervious surfaces within the watershed by the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) indicated impervious surface coverage was approximately 8%.


Water Use Classification and Impairments
The Alabama Department of Environmental Management establishes the water use classifications for interstate and intrastate waters. Fowl River carries the water use classification of Swimming & whole body contact along its entire course. Since 2000, Fowl River has been listed on the 303(d) list of impaired waters for Mercury. A consumption advisory for largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) has been issued by the Alabama Department of Public Health for fish taken from Fowl River as a result of mercury concentration in samples collected from that watershed. Sediment samples taken by ADEM in the watershed didn’t indicate elevated levels of mercury or any other metals.


Ecological Health
The general ecological health of the watershed is good, which is supported by the diverse array of flora and fauna present. During ADEM’s 2006 watershed assessment they noted an abundant presence of wading birds, generally accepted to be indicative of overall environmental health of a given area and indicators of ample food supply and suitable habitat.


Human Uses
Access to our coastlines is something that residents of the watershed and all of coastal Alabama greatly appreciate and is a primary value addressed under the MBNEP’s CCMP. Access to the waterways along Fowl River is primarily private with paid access available at the Pelican Reef Restaurant and where Fowl River Road crosses the river, at Memory’s Fish Camp. This river is a popular recreational boating and fishing location as observed from the number of small vessels that frequent it on a regular basis.

Bays & Bayous Proceedings

2014 Proceedings of the Alabama-Mississippi Bays & Bayous Symposium

The complete Bays & Bayous 2014 Proceedings are available below, following the order of the program.

The Building Blocks of Coastal Resilience - Proceedings

Preface

The Bays and Bayous Symposium began in 1979 as Alabama’s Bays, Bayous and Beaches Symposium. It was held again in 1987, widening the scope of the 1979 event to include the economic importance of coastal waters, educational programs, and habitat restoration. In 1995, the Symposium expanded its audience to include local industry and government with topics that included water quality, watershed management, government cooperation and citizen involvement. Shortly after the 1995 event, Mobile Bay was recognized as an estuary of national significance.  In 2006, it was decided that the meeting would be held biennially, rotating between Alabama and Mississippi. The 2010 Symposium was held in Mobile with four sessions over two days, including 120 presentations addressing water quality, living resources, habitat management, and sustainable communities. The 2012 Symposium was held in Biloxi including four concurrent sessions over a two day period, with 112 presentations addressing living estuarine resources; habitat management and restoration; water quality and quantity; and climate and hazard resilience.

We are pleased to host the 2014 Symposium at the Mobile Convention Center in Mobile, AL. The two-day event will include five concurrent sessions with over 105 presentations. Key topics will include water quality: assessing and improving water in a changing coastal landscape; living resources: understanding the flora and fauna of coastal ecosystems; habitat management: conservation and restoration for sustainable ecosystems; community resiliency: advancing economic viability and hazard resiliency; and monitoring, modeling, and communities: towards a better understanding of status and trends of estuarine ecosystem components.

The 2014 Alabama Mississippi Bays and Bayous Symposium would not be possible without the hard work and dedication of many individuals, organizations, and local leaders. We greatly appreciate all of the researchers, industry representatives, community organizations, and others who submitted such high-quality abstracts to the Symposium for oral and poster presentations. We are confident that the sound science and practical knowledge shared will be valuable to the many diverse groups working toward a healthier and more sustainable Gulf Coast both now and in the future.
 

Bays & Bayous Proceedings

Info here

Keynote Speakers

Winston Groom - New York Times Bestselling Author

“If you see a line, go stand in it, probably can’t hurt nothing” is a sample of the pithy wisdom of Forrest Gump by Gump’s creator, Winston Groom.

Winston Groom took the publishing world by storm when his 1986 novel Forrest Gump​ flew to the top of the New York Times bestseller list and stayed there for 21 weeks.  It has sold over 2.5 million copies in the United States alone, and millions more worldwide, on the heels of its blockbuster movie adaptation starring Tom Hanks.  The book has also been reprinted in at least eighteen languages.

Born in 1943, Groom grew up in Mobile, Alabama, where he attended University Military School prep.  In 1965 he graduated from the University of Alabama with an AB in English and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Army.  He served in Vietnam, mostly with the 1st Brigade of the Fourth Infantry Division from July 1966 to September 1967 when he was honorably discharged with the rank of Captain.  He then spent the next eight years working as a reporter and columnist for the Washington Star before becoming a full-time author.  He holds several honorary Ph.D. degrees as a “Doctor of Humane Letters.”

Groom is the author of Sixteen books. In addition to Forrest Gump and ​Gump & Co., Groom’s novels include Better Times Than These, Gone the Sun, ​Only and the award-winning As Summers Die, which was made into a movie starring Bette Davis.  He is also the author of ​Conversations with the Enemy​, a non-fiction account of the experience of an American prisoner of war in Vietnam, a brilliantly rendered Pulitzer Prize finalist. His novel Such a Pretty, Pretty Girl, was published by Random House in the spring of 1999. 

C. Scott Hardaway, Jr. - Marine Scientist Supervisor

Specializing in shoreline erosion along the Chesapeake Bay and ocean shorelines of Virginia and Maryland, Scott is the Senior Marine Scientist and Head of the Shoreline Studies Program in the Department of Physical Sciences at the Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences (VIMS).  Having worked for VIMS since 1979, Scott was designing and building living shorelines long before the term was coined in the early 2000s.  Much of his expertise has involved restoring and protecting wetlands from damage due to erosion and sea level rise in the mid-Atlantic region.

Scott has pioneered technologies to stabilize and enhance shorelines and developed restoration strategies employing rock sills and headland breakwaters to protect and restore wetlands and uplands.  He was a featured presenter at the New York Sea Grant-hosted Living Shorelines for Coastal Erosion Protection in a Changing World workshop in 2013.  With extensive practical experience in designing, building, and monitoring living shoreline projects around the country, he and other nationally recognized experts, provided attendees with information and resources to make informed decisions on appropriate use of living shorelines in New York.  Scott is a member of the Virginia Board of Geology, the North Carolina Board for Licensing of Geologists, and the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Ari Daniel - Independent Science Reporter and Multimedia Producer

Ari Daniel is an award-winning freelance science journalist based in Boston, Massachusetts. He has an undergraduate degree in Biology from Boston College, where he graduated summa cum laude. He earned a Fulbright Fellowship to pursue a Master’s degree at the University of St. Andrews where he worked on grey seal vocalizations, and he later received a PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution for his dissertation research on Norwegian killer whales.

Ari’s radio and video journalism has appeared on PRI's The World, Living on Earth, and Studio 360; National Public Radio's Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Weekend Edition Sunday; Radiolab; and NOVA online. He and his colleagues with the group Mind Open Media have produced numerous podcasts and other multimedia products to convey science to a curious public. Recently, this has involved work on the northern Gulf of Mexico coast to convey the science of impacts of the BP/Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill to our regional ecosystem. Ari is well-known for being an engaging speaker with a unique ability to convey complex scientific issues to people from a wide range of educational backgrounds and experiences, and we are honored to have him contribute these abilities to the 2014 Bays and Bayous symposium. In the 5th grade, Ari won the "Most Contagious Smile" award.

Dr. Holly Bamford - Assistant Secretary for Conservation and Management, U.S. Dept. of Commerce, NOAA

Dr. Holly A. Bamford is the acting Assistant Secretary for Conservation and Management for the US Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

In this role, Dr. Bamford works closely with Congress, other agency leaders, partner organizations, and local communities to develop policies and take conservation and community resiliency actions to ensure coastal and ocean stewardship and services.

Previously, as Assistant Administrator for NOAA’s National Ocean Service (NOS), Dr. Bamford directed the federal agency that provides coastal and ocean science-based solutions to address evolving economic, environmental, and social pressures on our oceans and coasts. Prior to this appointment, she served as Deputy Assistant Administrator for NOS, where she managed the financial and business operations while strategically improving the agency’s performance to meet its vast ocean science and service missions.  After Hurricane Sandy, Dr. Bamford was named the Incident Commander for NOAA responsible for all post response actions such as overseeing the agencies response to oil spill, chemical spills, marine debris impacts, hydrographic surveys to open critical navigation ways and ports, and high-resolution aerial imagery to map shoreline changes. 

Dr. Bamford earned a Ph.D. in the field of organic environmental chemistry, quantifying the physical and chemical processes that control the transport and fate of organic contaminants.  She also spent a year as a guest researcher at the National Institute of Standards and Technology developing analytical methods to detect trace organic contaminants in water and air particles.  Dr. Bamford has been published in over 20 publications that have been widely referenced in the field of environmental chemistry and water quality, including papers in Environmental Science & Technology, Atmospheric Environment, Marine Pollution Bulletin, and Environmental Toxicology & Chemistry.  
Dr. Bamford presented at a number of national and international meetings, academic institutions, as well as addressed the public through national media outlets including NBC News with Lester Holt, CNN, ABC, NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, Good Morning America, Rolling Stone, People, and the Wall Street Journal.

Justin R. Ehrenwerth - Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council

Justin R. Ehrenwerth serves as Executive Director of the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council. Created by the RESTORE Act of 2012 and comprised of the Governors of the five Gulf Coast States and Secretaries from six federal agencies, the Council is responsible for restoring and protecting the natural resources, ecosystems, fisheries, marine and wildlife habitats, beaches, coastal wetlands and economy of the Gulf Coast.

Prior to joining the Council, Ehrenwerth served as Chief of Staff to the Deputy Secretary of Commerce. As Chief of Staff, he assisted the Deputy Secretary in overseeing issues of management, policy and strategic planning for the Commerce Department which has an annual budget of $8 billion and approximately 47,000 employees.

Previously, Ehrenwerth served as Assistant Counsel to the President in the White House Counsel’s Office where he was a member of the Oversight and Litigation group representing the White House in Congressional investigations and advising Federal agencies on oversight matters. In conjunction with the Department of Justice, he worked with Counsel from across the Executive Office of the President on issues related to the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Multidistrict Litigation.

During the first two years of the Obama administration, Ehrenwerth served in the Department of Commerce’s Office of General Counsel. As Counsel, he assisted with the management of over 325 lawyers in fourteen offices and drafted numerous legal opinions. Ehrenwerth received the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) General Counsel's Award for Excellence for work related to the response to the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.

Ehrenwerth has held leadership positions on a number of national and statewide political campaigns including the Obama for America and Kerry-Edwards campaigns. He has been active in the non-profit sector having worked at the University of Pittsburgh Institute of Politics, Northern California Grantmakers, and Pennsylvania League of Young Voters. He also served as a Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Teaching Fellow as well as a Coro Fellow in Public Affairs.

Ehrenwerth is a summa cum laude graduate of Colby College and holds an MA in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from the University of Oxford and a J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School.

Cynthia M. Jones - A.D. and Annye L. Morgan Professor of Sciences, Eminent Scholar and Professor, Director - Center for Quantitative Fisheries Ecology

Cynthia M. Jones is the Founding Director of the Center for Quantitative Fisheries Ecology at Old Dominion University where she is the A. D. and Annye L. Morgan Professor of Sciences in the College of Sciences and Professor and Eminent Scholar in the Department of Earth, Ocean & Atmospheric Sciences.  Her research has covered fish from the Arctic through the temperate regions to the Antarctic. Her studies include: demography based on age evaluation, stock assessment, environmental effects on habitat, otolith chemistry for assess movement and migration, recreational angler surveys, simulation modeling, and quantitative statistics. Dr. Jones has won numerous national research awards and authored two papers selected as Best Paper by the American Fisheries Society. Her honors include: Phi Beta Kappa; Fellow American Association for the Advancement of Science; Outstanding Virginia Scientist [Juried Award]; Outstanding Professor, State Council for Higher Education in Virginia [Juried Award]; and Fulbright Senior Scholar Award, Australia.  She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Zoology summa cum laude from Boston University, a Master of Science and a Ph.D. in Oceanography from the University of Rhode Island.

Special Events

The Mobile Bay National Estuary Program and partners invite you to join them in the historic city of Mobile, Alabama to share information on the status of research, monitoring activities, on-the-ground restoration, citizen actions and more, focused on the health of our Coastal environment.

The Alabama Mississippi Bays & Bayous Symposium is a biennial event held alternately in Mississippi and Alabama to provide an opportunity for the community to learn about the state of our coastal environment. This symposium brings together a broad array of scientists, resource managers, industry representatives, business leaders, and policy makers from throughout the Southeast to promote information exchange and networking related to coastal issues that impact the long-term health of our coastal resources.

Bays & Bayous 2014

The Building Blocks of Coastal Resilience

December 2-3, 2014, Arthur R. Outlaw Mobile Convention Center, Mobile, AL

 

Thank you to everyone who participated in the 2014 Alabama- Mississippi Bays & Bayous Symposium. This year's event hosted 385 professionals and students from 14 different states. Keynote speakers included Winston GroomScott Hardaway, Ari Daniel, Dr. Holly Bamford, Justin Ehrenwerth, and Dr. Cynthia Jones

The Alabama-Mississippi Bays & Bayous Symposium is a biennial event held alternately in Alabama and Mississippi to provide an opportunity for the community to learn about the state of our coastal environment. The symposium provided a forum for discussion and exchange of information and experiences regarding water quality, habitat management, living resources, and resilient communities for the northern Gulf of Mexico. Below we have provided a copy of the symposium proceedings and program available for download.  

Proceedings

Program Schedule

Bays Bayous 2014

The Mobile Bay National Estuary Program and partners invite you to join them in the historic city of Mobile, Alabama to share information on the status of research, monitoring activities, on-the-ground restoration, citizen actions and more, focused on the health of our Coastal environment.

The Alabama Mississippi Bays & Bayous Symposium is a biennial event held alternately in Mississippi and Alabama to provide an opportunity for the community to learn about the state of our coastal environment. This symposium brings together a broad array of scientists, resource managers, industry representatives, business leaders, and policy makers from throughout the Southeast to promote information exchange and networking related to coastal issues that impact the long-term health of our coastal resources.

Fowl River Watershed

Fowl River Foreveis an unprecedented opportunity to protect a precious asset -- the Fowl River watershed -- while accomodating growth and change. Through this effort we will safeguard the environmental, cultural, recreational, and economic value of the Fowl River watershed for future generations.

Work is underway to shape the future of the Fowl River watershed!

Join Us!

The future of the Fowl River watershed is in your hands! If you want to be a part of our important work, please fill out the contact form or call the Mobile Bay National Estuary Program, 251-431-6409. 

About

Fowl River Forever is a Watershed Management Plan (WMP) for the Fowl River. A WMP is considered an essential first step in preserving water quality in a relatively pristine, tidally-influenced watershed and mitigating the impacts of future development pressures. It provides documentation of existing environmental conditions and challenges and a vision and strategy for protecting the chemical and biological integrity for fish, wildlife, and human uses.

Fowl River Forever will...

     ...be used to engage city, county, state and federal agencies, our legislative delegation, and the watershed community in demonstrating how both private and public objectives can be achieved for community environmental and economic development benefits.

     ...definitively identify and categorize watershed/water quality issues and problems, identify climate change vulnerabilities, identify restoration and adaptation projects necessary to improve resiliency and conditions within the watershed, identify human and financial capital needed to implement identified management measures, institute reasonable implementation timelines, and document and measure success.

The Mobile Bay National Estuary Program has awarded the WMP contract to a consultant, Goodwyn, Mills & Cawood, who will work with Planning NEXT and the Alabama Cooperative Extension System on the public participation activities. A diverse Steering Committee has been appointed to guide the Fowl River Forever process. This committee, which represents a broad range of interests in the watershed, is a working group that will serve as advocates for Fowl River Forever and help make recommendations about the process and the substance of the vision.
For more information, see Frequently Asked Questions and Background on the Fowl River Watershed.

Resources

Contact

For more information about Fowl River Forever please contact the Mobile Bay National Estuary Program. 

Mobile Bay National Estuary Program
118 N. Royal St. Suite 601
Mobile, AL  36602
251-431-6409

Thank you

placeholder

testing

Username:

DRAFT State Management Plan for Aquatic Nuisance Species in Alabama

 

DRAFT State Management Plan for Aquatic Nuisance Species in Alabama.pdf

Mon Louis Shoreline Stabilization Project

Mon Louis Island Habitat Creation/Shoreline Stabilization Project – Information for Bidders

At the Pre-Bid Meeting held at 0900 on Thursday, October 4, 2012 at the residence of Greg and Dottie Lawley, the following details were shared with potential bidders:

Bidders should provide two separate bids:

  1. Assuming that the quality and volume of ASPA sand are sufficient for project needs, bid should only include the cost of transporting 1,650 cubic yards of sand from the ASPA disposal site to the project site, and
  2. Provide a bid that includes independent procurement and transport of washed sand of sufficient grain size to the project site.

 

MBNEP has received funding through grants from the Gulf of Mexico Foundation Community-based Restoration Program and the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service Coastal Programs to undertake this project.  Project measures include installation of two 0.155-acre submerged rock reef structures to support oysters and other fishery resources and placement of clean sand fill behind four 40-foot rock headland breakwaters to stabilize chronic erosion.

 More information and the bid package in .pdf format is available by clicking the following link: Mon Louis Island Bid Package.pdf

Davis-Bacon Heavy Construction Wages in .pdf format click here.

 

! Estuary Fun For Kids !

Check Out this Website!

Meeting Agendas, Minutes and Presentations

Executive Committee (EC)

2012

2013

2014

Government Networks Committee (GNC)

2012

2013

2014

Project Implementation Committee (PIC)

2012

2013

2014

Resources

Community Action Committee (CAC)

2012

2013

2014

Business Resources Committee (BRC)

2013

Science Advisory Committee (SAC)

2012

2014


 

 

Projects

under construction

Jackson’s Reading Park Stream Restoration

View the Reading Park Stream Restoration project fact sheet here.

Joe’s Branch Restoration

Restoration is Complete!

 

In the Joe’s Branch watershed, on the property of Westminster Village adjacent and parallel to Highway 131, a head cut stream is eroding at an accelerating rate, an ominous condition as ALDOT prepares to undertake improvements to the highway.  Identified as a high priority stabilization area in the D’Olive Creek, Tiawasee Creek and Joe’s Branch Watershed  Management Plan, MBNEP has submitted a funding request to the Alabama Department of Environmental Management on behalf of its partners in Spanish Fort ,Daphne, ALDOT and Westminster Village to undertake restoration of the stream using a cutting-edge technology called Regenerative Step Pool Storm Conveyance.  This methodology involves filling the gully to flush with a mixture of sand and saw dust and installing a series of rock step pools down the length of the impacted stream to slow velocity and promote infiltration of the stormwater runoff underlying the stream degradation.  The proposed scope of work includes restoration of downstream wetlands impacted by sediments that resulted from the degradation of the stream banks.  It also includes utilization of upstream best management practices to decrease stormwater runoff within the Joe’s Branch Subwatershed.

You can view before, after and construction photos in our photo gallery.

Archive

The Selection Committee who evaluated the eleven proposals individually and through open discussion included the following individuals:

Julie Batchelor Baldwin County Planning Department
Roberta Swann Mobile Bay National Estuary Program
Marlon Cook Geological Survey of Alabama
Dr. Dennis DeVries Auburn University
Patric Harper U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Phillip Hinesley Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources-Coastal Section
Patti Hurley Alabama Department of Environmental Management
Jennifer Jacobsen U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Heather Krantz Alabama Department of Environmental Management
Henry Lawson Lake Forest Property Owners Association
Mike McMillan City of Spanish Fort
Ashley Campbell City of Daphne (Non-Voting Position)

Clean Up the Bottom

 

 

On foot and in boats, hundreds of area residents and community volunteers joined together on Saturday, October 22, 2011 at 8 a. m. to CLEAN UP THE BOTTOM, the neighborhood adjacent to One and Three Mile Creeks near downtown Mobile.

And it was more than about filling up trash bags. Together, the Mobile Bay National Estuary Program, the City of Mobile, the MLK Avenue Redevelopment Corporation and Mobile Housing Board have aligned their interests. It was about making the connection that economic development and success in communities do not happen without a healthy environment. 

With the Three Mile Creek Watershed targeted for a major watershed management planning effort, this was the first of many neighborhood clean-ups envisioned to take place from downtown to West Mobile.  Event tee shirts with artwork by local artist A. C. Smith were provided to area residents, groups such as the Pacesetters and All Throttle Motorcycle Clubs, Faith Academy, Mobile Police Explorers, Progressive Black Firefighters Association of Mobile, Outward Bound, Alabama School of Math and Science who made a strong statement that trash is more than just a water quality problem.  It represents a lack of community pride that continues to hold our area back economically, socially and environmentally.  

Their support and attendance on this day underscored the positive action taking place and demonstrated that true civic pride is found by each of us taking ownership and responsibility for our community and its environment, not waiting for someone else to take care of our backyards for us.  

The Mobile Bay National Estuary Program and other partners BP, Bridgestone Tires, The City of Mobile, Coca-Cola, Keep Mobile Beautiful, Mobile Gas, Waste Management and the Southeastern Wildlife Conservation Group provided support for this event, bagging and removing trash from roadsides, dead-ends, and shorelines throughout the Bottom.  One thousand abandoned tires were removed, filling a 48-foot tractor trailer to capacity.  The event represented an evolution within the City of Mobile and a celebration of its cultural identity and unique and valued estuarine environment.

Seagrasses and Vegetation

content

Animals

content

Estuarine Habitat

content

Links

content

Oyster Gardening

content

Models and Tools

info

Publications

info

Links Pertaining to Climate Change

info

Climate Change

Climate change is a significant and lasting change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns over periods ranging from decades to millions of years. In other words it is a change in average weather conditions, or in the distribution of weather around the average conditions.  

There is a broad spectrum of factors that influence global climate change ranging from variations in solar radiation, plate tectonics, and oceanic proccesses. However the most important factor that currently has the most influential impact on the disposition of the Earth's climate in this day and age are human-induced alterations of the natural world. That plastic bag that blew out the window of your car this morning on the interstate does indeed initiate a domino effect contributing to fluctuations in temperature and habitat quality. The water that runs off your driveway and onto the streets on a rainy day, instead of being absorbed into the soil, does have a role in the amount of sedimentation that runs into Mobile Bay, and also affects the salinity content of the estuary altering the habitat of many creatures that directly influence the economy of Alabama.

 

Cleanup Mobile One Neighborhood at a Time

If you want to do something about Mobile's trash problem, here's a great opportunity. The Mobile Bay National Estuary Program is happy to co-sponsor this community cleanup. Also, watch for more information about our April 28th cleanup to help the Dog River Watershed. 

Click here for information on registration and event details.

Click here for frequently asked questions.

testpage

Estuary Issues

Content Here

DWH Oil Spill Related

This page contains a variety of informative links and reports detailing what MBNEP and our partners are doing to improve and protect water quality, living resources, habitats, and human uses in response to the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.

Most Recent

The RESTORE Council published the list of 50 projects put forward by the 5 Gulf States and 5 federal agencies and tribes, for consideration for the first round of RESTORE funding from the “Council-Selected Restoration Component”. Over the next few months these projects will be evaluated by the Council, and at some point this spring the council will issue a “Funded Priority List (FPL)”, made up of sub-set of these projects. You can review the RESTORE Council's statement and view the full list of projects below.

RESTORE Council's Statement

Full list of projects, with links to more specific information

Funding Deepwater Horizon Restoration & Recovery: how much, going where, for what?

Transocean Plea Agreement

BP Pleads Guilty to Criminal Charges in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil Disaster

The RESTORE Act and Additional Information

The RESTORE Act

A Guide to the RESTORE Act By Jyotika I. Virmani

The RESTORE Act Flow Chart and Bill Comparison

NRDA Related Links and Reports

Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Draft Phase I Early Restoration Plan and Environmental Assessment

Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force

Gulf of Mexico Regional Ecosystem Restoration Strategy

EPA Links and Reports

Coastal Recovery Commision Links and Reports

Other Great Links and Reports

Test

test

Implementation Reviews

Implementation Reviews

Land Use and Land Cover Changes

Mobile Bay is a critical ecologic and economic region in the Gulf of Mexico and to the entire country. Mobile Bay was designated as an estuary of “national significance” in 1996. This estuary receives the fourth largest freshwater inflow in the United States. It provides vital nursery habitat for commercially and recreationally important fish species. It has exceptional aquatic and terrestrial bio‐diversity; however, its estuary health is influenced by changing LULC patterns, such as urbanization. Mobile and Baldwin counties have experienced a population growth of 1.1% and 20.5%, respectfully, from 2000‐2006.

Land‐use and land‐cover change can negatively impact Gulf coast water quality and ecological resources. The conversion of forest to urban cover types impacts the carbon cycle and increases the freshwater and sediment in coastal waters. Increased freshwater runoff decreases salinity and increases the turbidity of coastal waters, thus impacting the growth potential of submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV), which is critical nursing ground for many Gulf fish species. A survey of Mobile Bay SAV showed widespread decreases since the 1940s. Prior to our project, coastal environmental managers in Baldwin and Mobile counties needed more understanding of the historical LULC, and therefore to properly assess the impacts of increasing urbanization. In particular, more information on the location and extent of changing urbanization LULC patterns was needed to aid LULC planning and to assess predictions of future LULC patterns.

These videos courtesy of NASA Stennis Space Center, displays land‐use and land‐cover (LULC) changes in the coastal counties of Mobile and Baldwin, AL between 1974 and 2008.

Land Use and Land Cover Changes (1974-2008)

 

Funded by

NASA (Grant # NNX10AC57G)

 

 

 

Percent Impervious Surface Analysis (1974-2008)

 

Hydrodynamic Modeling of Mobile Bay by South Coast Engineers

A state-of-the-art numerical hydrodynamic model was used to evaluate the impact of a proposed headland pocket beach system on the tidal flows. This analysis was critically important because of the most productive oyster reefs in the state immediately offshore. The model results indicated that the proposed structures will not significantly influence the tidal flows at the oyster reefs. South Coast Engineers has designed the coastal engineering aspects of the proposed headland pocket beach system at this location to preserve the only sandy shoreline along the western side of Mobile Bay with public access. 

The basic simulation shown in each video is for a representative month (the first 8 days not shown in videos due to numerical spinup requirements) with typical tides and typical river inflows. The primary boundary conditions driving the estimates of tides and velocities shown are the tidal elevation at the circular arc shown in the Gulf of Mexico in the “Bay” level zoom and the river flows entering the bay from the north. It should be noted that there is a “neap” tide condition near day #20 of each simulation which is visible in the videos.

Velocities

Elevations

 
 

 

Related Online Resources

Turn your home into a Stormwater Pollution Solution  An EPA homeowner’s guide to healthy household habits for clean water.

Guide to Reducing Polluted Runoff in Coastal Alabama  An educational and practical guide to understanding and taking action to deal with this problem where we live.

AL Handbook for Erosion Control, Sediment Control, and Stormwater Management on Construction Sites and Urban Areas This is a great Alabama-specific resource for Best Management Practices (BMPs).

Especially for Kids Produced by the City of Oceanside (CA) Clean Water Program. Great information and great presentation!

Stormwater Manager’s Resource Center (SMRC) For stormwater practitioners, local government officials, and others that need technical assistance with stormwater issues.

Stormwater Authority.org A place to research best management practices and Alabama’s National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) stormwater management program.

-Back to Stormwater Information.

More Long Term Approaches

Keep stormwater on your property by employing these residential practices:

Use Rain Gutters to Channel Water to Porous Areas or Use Rain Barrels

 

Create Rain Gardens and Infiltration Swales

 

Use Alternatives to Impervious Surfaces

Whenever possible

use bricks, gravel, turf block (A), mulch, pervious concrete (B),

       Figure (A)                              Figure (B)

or other porous materials for sidewalks, driveways or patios. These (frequently cheaper!) materials allow rainwater to seep into the ground, helping to filter pollutants and reducing the amount of run-off from your yard.

Use wheel tracks, (C) in place of full width paved drives.

         Figure (C)

-Back to Stormwater Information.

Be a Green Homeowner!

Stormwater Runoff Management at Home

Residents on the Alabama coast are the first line of defense in protecting our coastal resources from the problems associated with polluted runoff.

Day-to-Day

In our day-to-day activities we can all help by following these guidelines:

-See More Long-Term Approaches to see what you can do to help prevent stormwater run-off.

-Back to Stormwater Information.

Growth’s Impacts to Water Quality

Increased Runoff

The amount of water that accumulates and the speed with which it travels cause flooding and erosion of stream and river banks, pouring sediment into our waters and damaging vegetation and wildlife habitats.

Increased Pollutant Load

Rapid development in Baldwin and Mobile Counties has resulted in increases in population and even greater increases in the area covered by impervious surfaces. This combination increases the amount and variety of pollutants carried into our streams, rivers, and bays, including: 

-Back to Stormwater Information.

Stormwater Information

Stormwater Runoff is a Big Problem

As subdivisions pop up along our rapidly developing coast, stormwater runoff becomes a big problem in our communities. What were once natural landscapes with porous surfaces that trapped rainwater, allowing it to seep, or infiltrate, into the ground, become covered with buildings, rooftops, driveways, sidewalks, streets, and parking lots.

Did you know that impervious surfaces like pavement and rooftops cause a typical city block to produce more than five times as much runoff as a woodland area of the same size?

These hard, relatively smooth, impervious surfaces prevent rainwater from soaking into the ground and replenishing groundwater supplies. Instead, most of it remains above the land surface, where it collects and runs downhill over the smooth surfaces rapidly and in unnaturally large amounts towards streams, rivers, and the Bay.

Stormwater runoff causes flooding and erosion and carries pollutants like dirt, clay, oil, chemicals, pet waste, and fertilizers into our streams, rivers, and bays without any kind of treatment or purification.

Help Create a Clean Water Future for Alabama!

All of the things that make Coastal Alabama special – seafood-rich waters, beautiful natural habitats and a way of life built on Alabama’s waterways – depend on clean, pollution-free water in our creeks, streams, rivers and bays.

Create a Clean Water Future is a public service campaign to help Alabama residents learn more about stormwater runoff and its impacts; increase demand for stormwater management programs; and provide tools that empower individuals and communities to reduce polluted runoff in our waterways. By joining the Create a Clean Water Future campaign, you are helping protect the Alabama all of us want to pass on to future generations. Visit www.cleanwaterfuture.com for more information.

Maps

 

 

    Entire Bay Comparison              Southern bay Comparison            Mobile Bay Seagrass  

              (02-09)                                         (02-09)                              Population Area                            

    

-Back to Seagrasses page

Educational Materials

SAVing the Gulf: SAV Gardening, Education, Restoration, Protection (2006)

Seagrass Education Handbook from http://www.seagrasswatch.org

Seagrass Habitat Document from http://gulfsci.usgs.gov/

  

 

-Back to Seagrasses page

Publications

-Back to Seagrasses page

Submerged Aquatic Vegetation


Seagrass beds, also known as submerged aquatic vegetation or SAV, are considered a foundation of coastal and estuarine ecosystems in the Northern Gulf Region. These highly productive marine plant communities provide valuable habitat and perform important ecosystem services in the waters that they populate. 

Seagrasses contribute significant value by providing several critical ecosystem services in the Northern Gulf Region. While there is no single estimate of the value of seagrasses in the region, several attributes demonstrate the importance of this habitat to both the aquatic ecosystem and to the local economy.  Seagrass beds support important recreational and commercial fisheries critical to the economic and social well-being of the region.  Finfish and shellfish use the beds as nursery habitat for rearing juveniles and foraging habitat for adults.  They improve water quality by adding oxygen to the water column and filtering nutrients and contaminants from it.  They stabilize sediments and reduce coastal erosion by baffling energy from waves and currents.   

Mobile Bay, designated a National Estuary by the Environmental Protection Agency, receives the waters of the Mobile Basin, the sixth largest watershed in the United States. Decreases in seagrass acreage have been reported in coastal Alabama, but, as of now, there has been no investigation into the specific causes that underlie these losses. The large declines in SAV coverage in Mobile Bay estuarine waters have been generally attributed to tropical weather activity, dredging, prop scarring, and turbidity in coastal waters related to land development practices that increase suspended sediments.

Rapid development of coastal communities for residential and commercial purposes can cause harmful habitat changes to SAV communities. Beyond increasing nutrient loading, increased development is often accompanied by shoreline armoring that effectively diminishes critical shallow-water habitat. Examples include the construction of seawalls, breakwaters, revetments, groins, and jetties.  Each of these structures, aimed at protecting coastal property, refracts energy away from the shore, and can cause erosion and increase currents that disrupt SAV settlement.

Development converts natural landscape to increased impervious surface which increases the volume and velocity of stormwater runoff, especially in a region that receives over five feet of rain per year on average.  One result is streambank erosion, an upland problem that delivers plumes of sediment into coastal waters.  This is one more source of light-blocking turbidity which, along with nutrient-stimulated algal blooms and refracted wave energy from shoreline armoring, blocks the sunlight necessary to sustain SAV.

MBNEP has partnered with the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, State Lands Division, to monitor SAV coverage in the Mobile Bay estuary.  SAV coverage in Mobile Bay and adjacent waters was first mapped in 2002.  In 2005, that distribution was compared to historical aerial photography to determine that SAV acreage was, in fact, diminishing.  SAV coverage was again mapped in 2008 and 2009, over a single-year duration, revealing a net loss of an additional 1,300 acres.

Successful restoration of SAV is generally dependent upon improving water quality and reducing turbidity.  Regulations controlling nutrient loading in southwest Florida have resulted in decreased concentrations of nitrogen and phosphorus in coastal waters, decreased algal blooms, increased water clarity, and increases in SAV coverage.  

Tom Herder

Tom Herder joined the Mobile Bay National Estuary Program in 2006, as the Watershed Protection Coordinator. 

With Bachelors and Masters degrees in Marine Biology from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, and having completed coursework towards a PhD in Zoology from the University of Florida, he has a strong science background, particularly in estuarine biology.  An ex-Marine, lifetime endurance athlete, and former national age group triathlon champion, he went to work at the NEP after leaving a twenty-year career as a competitive swim coach. 

Tom and his wife, Rhoda, a nurse who works in the recovery room at Infirmary West, moved to Mobile shortly before Hurricane Ivan.  They live in a home in Midtown Mobile, with two Australian Shepherd dogs, two parrots, and a tank of African cichlids.  Tom fishes and dives, but his real passion is surfing, which he’s been learning for 41 years.

Brenda Lowther

Originally from Connecticut, Brenda Lowther has been MBNEP’s program administrator since 2009. She has worked with non-profit organizations for most of her professional life.  Brenda says it’s her way of feeling as if she’s helping to make, and one day, leave behind a better world for her three children and grandchild.
 
She lives with her husband, Matt, in Baldwin County. “Just because it’s called Mobile Bay, doesn’t mean Baldwin County has no stake it,” Brenda says laughingly.  She says it’s important for people to remember that most every community near the Bay has a direct effect on it, and the Bay affects all of us.
 
Despite her full day of tasks and responsibilities at MBNEP, Brenda is also a student at the University of South Alabama. She is studying business management and accounting, two subjects she currently works with during business hours at MBNEP.  In her limited spare time, Brenda enjoys gardening and loves reading.

Roberta Swann

Roberta was appointed Director of the Mobile Bay National Estuary Program (MBNEP) in August 2009, after serving as deputy to former Director Captain David Yeager. 

Prior to joining the MBNEP she was a consultant for Strategic Resource Solutions on Dauphin Island, AL, for two years, where her accomplishments included creation of the Dauphin Island Sea Lab Foundation and oversight of a successful acquisition campaign for Dauphin Island Bird Sanctuaries.  Before moving to Alabama, Ms. Swann served as Assistant Director of the Community Redevelopment Department for the City of Lafayette (IN), where she oversaw community development efforts including revitalization strategy development, neighborhood park improvements, special events coordination, liaison service between social and development agencies and the City, and production of planning, grant, budget, and report documents for CDBG, HOME, and other Federal programs totaling over $2 million annually.  She was awarded HUD Best Practice Distinction for Lincoln Center Homeless Services Project. 

Other experience included stints as Budget Manager, Grants Director, and Project Manager for Community Development efforts in the Cities of Boston, Gloucester, and Orange, MA from 1989 through 1993.  Prior to beginning her professional career, Ms. Swann served for two years as a Cooperatives Volunteer for the Peace Corps, in Togo, West Africa, where she monitored financial and agricultural activities of seven village farming cooperatives, provided training on business development, and obtained $10,000 from USAID/Canadian Embassy to build a community grain mill and establish a maternity clinic. A native of Melrose, MA, Ms. Swann received a Bachelor of Science in Economics from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and a Masters in Business Administration in Public/Non-profit Management from Boston University. 

She lives with her husband, Dr. LaDon Swann, and two teenage sons, Will and Gage. They live in a quiet log cabin on several acres that include pristine wetlands along the western shore of Mobile Bay. 

Christian Miller

Christian Miller is an extension specialist in non-point source pollution for Auburn University and shares his knowledge and services with MBNEP.

He is a 2001 graduate of Jacksonville State University with a BS in Biology and Environmental Science, and a 2003 graduate of Auburn University with a MS in Fisheries Science and Aquaculture. Prior to joining the Alabama Clean Water Partnership (another MBNEP partner), Christian served as an extension agent with the Miami-Dade County Extension Service in Florida, from 2004 to 2009, primarily organizing informal outreach and education programs in the areas of aquaculture and water science.  He also enjoyed organizing annual youth sport fishing programs for the local 4-H youth development program. In addition to his work with the Alabama Clean Water Partnership and Mobile Bay National Estuary Program, Christian also coordinates the Clean Marina program through the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium and Auburn University. 

Christian lives in Mobile with his wife, Katherine, and his Springer Spaniel, Katie.  He also enjoys hiking, photography, and fishing.

Coastal Alabama Community Attitudes Assesment

View the full document here.

WHAT ALABAMIANS VALUE ABOUT THE ENVIRONMENT AND 

WHAT CAN BE DONE TO PROTECT IT

Coastal Connections:  Estuary Reflection

Fall Issue, 2011

 

Last summer, Mobile Bay National Estuary Program hired Research Strategies, Inc. to undertake a Coastal Alabama Community Attitudes Assessment to provide insight into what stakeholders consider the most pressing environmental challenges.   Five hundred and fifty respondents answered a series of questions related to environmental values, quality of life factors, economic contributions and impacts, and major issues of concern.  This assessment will be used to craft a series of community meetings over the coming months, as we seek input to guide the next iteration of the Mobile Bay Estuary Comprehensive Conservation Management Plan.

 

Questions were posed to randomly selected individuals aged18-74 who were heads of households and had lived in their residence for at least two years within residential zip codes of Mobile and Baldwin Counties.  The average age of respondents was 53.48 years with average household annual income of $53,000and average households of 2.44 individuals.  Forty five percent were employed full time, 29%were retired and eight percent were unemployed.  The random sampling methodology used indicated that 46% of the respondents live within 6 blocks or less from a seashore, bay, bayou other waterway.

 

Of those interviewed lifestyle indicators show that Mobile County residents have a higher tendency for recreational fishing, while Baldwin County residents enjoy boating and water sports.  However, Baldwin County residents regard “tourism” and “recreational fishing” as the leading economic generators impacting their quality of life.  In Mobile County, “recreational and commercial fishing” are the two strongest economic generators contributing to their quality of life.

 

When asked which was more important - the environment or economic growth - 61% recognized the need for balance between environmental protection and economic growth, versus 26% who though the environment was more important and 13.27 % who thought that economic growth should come first.  Breaking this data down, Baldwin County residents favored environmental protection 12% more than Mobile County residents, and, as might be expected, those living within six blocks of a water body gave higher priority to the environment by 13%.

 

Most of Mobile and Baldwin County residents have mixed feelings about Sea Level Rise.  Over 60% believe to some degree that Sea Level Rise is real versus approximately 40% who did not.  Mobile County residents and residents living within six blocks of a waterway have a slightly stronger belief that sea level is rising.

 

Can you say es-cho-aree?  Of Baldwin County residents interviewed, 49% understood what an estuary was.  Only 37% of Mobile County residents demonstrated a correct understanding.  However, a review of the qualitative answers provided indicates that many interviewed had some understanding of what estuaries provide, including answers such as, “where fish hatch their eggs,” “where small fish and crabs grow up to be adults,” “where we raise little fish,” and “where water systems converge.”

 

On a scale of one to five, with five being most important, respondents scored the economic importance of Mobile Bay to the State of Alabama at 4.62, with residents from Baldwin County residents rating its importance 7.79% higher than those from Mobile County.  When asked how they viewed the overall health of the bay, (one = poor to five = excellent), Baldwin County residents scored it lower (2.99) than Mobile County respondents (3.18).  However, both indicated that the Bay’s health at about average.

 

Interestingly, when asked about the overall quality of life in their specific county, Mobile County residents rated their quality of life 5.67% better than Baldwin County residents, with a combined average of 4.22.  Residents living within six blocks of a waterway indicated slightly higher quality of life (4.40).

 

Resoundingly, the feature having the most positive impact on quality of life in and around Mobile Bay is “fishing or fisheries habitats” (50%) with those living within six blocks of a waterway rating that slightly higher (52%).  “Beaches and waterfront” (23%) rated second and was valued 12.84% higher by those living greater than six blocks from a waterway.

 

An overwhelming 34% rated “pollutants from industry” as the number one environmental problem having impacting Mobile Bay and its estuaries, followed by “trash” and “septic failures and sanitary sewer overflows.”  However, when asked to compare their answer to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill regarding which would have a more long-term effect on the environmental quality of Mobile Bay, 57% rated the oil spill as having a greater long-term effect.  In retrospect, it appears that the answer to this question may have been skewed by the events unfolding last summer, as these interviews were taking place.  Within the different problem categories, Baldwin County respondents rated “flooding and erosion” (15%) and “septic failures and sanitary sewer overflows” (22. %) as more serious problems than Mobile County respondents (10% and 13% respectively).

 

In a related question, 33% of respondents believe that among  infrastructure projects “coastal building and industrial development” had the greatest impact on the quality of our estuarine system.

  

 

This research was undertaken in part to gauge how the Mobile Bay National Estuary Program could target activities to address community environmental concerns in the coming years.  Although respondents felt that Industry was the biggest environmental polluter, they felt that the two most important issues to address are ”trash, pesticides, urban residue” and “water clarity.”  Interestingly, these issues all relate in part to how stormwater runoff is (or isn’t) managed and reflects the stress that stormwater is putting not only on area aesthetic values but also on ecosystem health.  Note that the third most important issue is public outreach and education,- a key directive for the Program in terms of moving towards a “tipping point” for changing behaviors. 

 

 

Overall, the Community Attitudes Assessment provided a valuable community perspective of what the perceived environmental issues are at this point in time.  The data found in this report will be used to frame a new Comprehensive Conservation Management Plan that integrates environmental protections into planning for community growth so that what the community values most about our coastal environment is conserved into perpetuity.  Our goal in developing the priorities for this next plan is that each objective resonates with the community, is achievable and realistic, is based in science, and, above all, contributes to the long-term viability of the coastal ecosystems that underlie our quality of life.

Orange Beach

Orange Beach Highway 161 Wetland Restoration

PURPOSE

The objective of  this project is to alter the contours of the east Highway 161 Right-of-Way to create a serpentine wetland system out of the current system of uplands/wetlands occurring along this section of five-lane highway right-of-way. The area to be physically altered is approximately one (1) acre, but the anticipated effect on the recieving waters of Cotton Bayou would be greatly improved water quality inputs (removal of heavy metals, nutrients, etc.) through greater scrubbing, biological treatment, on and offline treatment, aeration, increased retention/detention times, and controlled release rates. Additionally, ample oppoutunities for public outreach and education along this project area are significant, as the project area encompasses a well-established pedestrian and biking trail. The project area is highly visible from the well-travelled Highway 161 corridor, which during the summer season, is travelled by approximately 15,000 vehicle trips, daily.

Canal Road Overlay District

PURPOSE

The purpose of this project is to develop an overlay district for Canal Road that will implement coastal planning through the promotion of low impact development. Canal Road is a major arterial corridor providing east/west connectivity and access to Foley Beach Express, Gulf Shores, and numerous businesses. During the City's explosive growth of the last decade, traffic along the two-lane road has increased prompting the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) to begin plans to increase the roads capacity through the construction of a five-lane undivided roadway. Although the proposed five-lane undivided highway will meet traffic needs, it will fall short of implementing sound coastal planning. This project seeks to create an overlay district that improves traffic efficiency while still protecting the coastal environment, utilizing low impact design, incorporating "green features", and making it pedestrian and bicycle friendly.

Foley

Wolf Creek Restoration

PURPOSE

This project is designed to improve watershed functions through a holistic watershed restoration project that includes stream and floodplain restoration and stormwater management in a degraded stream system. Wolf Creek exhibits urban land use impacts characterized by elevated nutrients, sedimentation increased hydrologic flashiness, altered morphology and a shift to less species richness and tolerant biotic assemblages. Historical and current land uses have impacted the stream integrity of Wolf Creek. The channel was straightened decreasing sinuosity and is deeply incised with little to no access to the historical flood plain contributing to poor habitat diversity. This project will implement a natural stream channel design and floodplain restoration project from construction to completion.

Daphne

Daphne Low Impact Development Program

PURPOSE

The purpose of this project is to develop a program which will initiate and encourage the use of low impact development practices, green infrastructure (LID/GI) and incentives for the City of Daphne. These practices will be used to supplement the City Subdivision Regulations and to provide alternatives to traditional stormwater management practices.

The City of Daphne has long been concerned about stormwater management, especially in regards to the impaired drainage basins of D'Olive Creek, the Unnamed Tributary of D'Olive Creek, Yancey Branch, and Joe's Branch. In 2010 the City collaborated with other local municipalities and local government agencies in developing a Watershed Management Plan for D'Olive Watershed. Several critical coastal issues were identified in the Plan: one was the need to "reduce outgoing sediment loads into D'Olive Bay and Mobile Bay estuary." Also identified in the Plan was a way to accomplish that goal- "to develop smart growth concepts for new development and re-developments using LID/Gi techniques."  We anticipate that program implementation will reduce outgoing sediment loads, improve water quality, reduce runoff volume, and mitigate future impacts of development in the watershed. Lasting and sustainable benefits of this project will be a restored coastal habitat and significantly reduced pollutant loading of the bay. An additional benefit will be the availability of a model ordinance for low impact development and green infrastructure regulations and incentives that could be used by other municipalities within Mobile Bay and Baldwin County.

City of Daphne Low Impact Development Policies

Fairhope

Volanta Watershed Planning and Stormwater Improvements

PURPOSE

The purpose of this project is to study the Volanta Gulley Watershed in the City of Fairhope and develop and implement low impact stormwater management projects and practices throughout. Fairhope's increase in population over the past decade, combined with an average rainfall of over sixty-five inches per year, results inincreased nonpoint source pollution in the nearby creeks and streams which empty into Mobile Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. The solution is to create stormwater management projects and practices that allieviate this problem.

Volanta Gully Watershed Management Plan
Volanta Gully Watershed Phase I Drainage Restoration Projects
Fairhope Gullies Article

Fairhope’s Gullies are natural resources of historical and biological significance to the community.

They suffer from exotic invasive plants, increased storm water flow, and erosion.  

Accomplishments

Starting in 2004, MBNEP began to catalog actions that had been taken by the various members of the management conference to implement the CCMP.  This catalog evolved into an online database organized by objective area:  Water Quality, Living Resources, Habitat Management, Human Uses, and Education and Public Involvement.  Please note:  This database is a work in progress, and has not been updated since 2006.  We will continue to develop this and encourage other management conference members to assist in providing information activities to build this inventory of community environmental accomplishments. 

 

Visit 2002-2012 CCMP Database

Workplans

Each year, the MBNEP prepares a Work Plan that includes activities that will be undertaken in the following 12 months to implement the CCMP.  Links to the current and past work plans can be found below. 

Volume 3

Content

Volume 2

Content

Volume 1

content

Comprehensive Conservation & Management Plan 2013-2018

                                                       

 

 

 

Final CCMP 2013-2018

 

 

 

 

Appendices

What do Citizens Value about Living on the Coast?

Assessment for Six Things People Value about Living in Coastal Alabama

1. Access

2. Beaches

3. Fish

4. Heritage and Culture

5. Resilience

6. Water Quality

Eight Mile Creek Watershed

Check out the Eight-Mile Creek Watershed final plan by clicking here.

 

Watershed management planning fosters the coordinated implementation of programs to control point source discharges, reduce polluted runoff, and protect drinking water, as well as identify sensitive natural resources. The Eightmile Creek Watershed Plan moves toward this goal by recommending educational strategies and supporting existing programs that serve to reduce non-point source pollution.

It is the goal of this Plan to make recommendations necessary to bring all water quality parameters within State water quality standards for Fish & Wildlife as identified in Chapter 335-6-10 of the Alabama Code. The overall goal of these efforts is to identify and implement strategies that will lead to the necessary load reductions as determined by ADEM in the TMDL (72% reduction in pathogens for Eightmile Creek, and a pathogen reduction of 78% for the Gum Tree Branch).  This Plan seeks to implement environmentally protective and economically realistic best management practices (BMPs), where practical and technologically feasible, in order to meet or exceed water quality standards. BMP types and numbers prescribed in this plan are recommendations based on current land use practices, land cover, and watershed activities. Voluntary, incentive-based approaches will be used to implement BMPs throughout the watershed. Providing opportunities for local stakeholder input and participation will continue to be a critical BMP implementation component. 

This plan was developed to address EPA’s nine key elements for watershed management plans. Compliance with these requirements within this document is noted below. These requirements include:

1. (a) An identification of the causes and sources or groups of similar sources that will need to be controlled to achieve load reductions estimated in the watershed based protection plan.

1. (b) Sources that need to be controlled should be identified at the significant subcategory level with estimates of the extent to which they are present in the watershed.  

2. Estimate of load reductions expected for the management measures described. 

3. A description of the nonpoint source management measures that will need to be implemented to achieve load reductions, and a description of the critical areas in which those measures will be needed to be implemented. 

4. An estimate of the amounts of technical and financial assistance needed, associated costs, and/or the sources and authorities that will be relied upon, to implement the plan. 

5. An information and education component used to enhance public understanding of the project and encourage their early and continued participation in selecting, designing, and implementing the nonpoint source management measures that will be implemented. 

6. A schedule for implementing the NPS management measures identified in the plan that is reasonable and expeditious. 

7. A description of interim measurable milestones for determining whether nonpoint source management measures or other control actions are being implemented. 

8. A set of criteria that can be used to determine whether pollutant loading reductions are being achieved over time and substantial progress is being made towards attaining water quality standards and, if not, the criteria for determining whether the watershed management plan needs to be revised.

9. A monitoring component to evaluate the effectiveness of the implementation efforts over time, measured against the criteria established under item (8).

Local Restoration Projects

Communities throughout Mobile and Baldwin Counties continue to struggle with the impacts of increasing amounts of impervious surface.  Two major challenges are the management of stormwater and  sediments.  MBNEP will provide funding to local municipalities, counties, and grassroots groups to undertake ecosystem restoration projects with priority given to stormwater and sediment management projects.  A third priority will include wetland function or coverage improvements.  This third priority is in response to two current stressors to our ecosystem:  the Deepwater Horizon Incident and climate change.  Funding recipients will be encouraged to engage community residents in the restoration project to foster environmental stewardship and enhance community sustainability with the aim of restoring vital ecosystem components and increasing broader-scale functionality and health. 

In 2010, MBNEP initiated the Local Restoration Partnership Program, providing grants to local public government entities  to undertake projects that address wetlands restoration, stormwater Runoff, or sediment management measures.  Five projects were funded in the first round:

City of Chickasaw, $20,000.00 to support wetlands restoration at Brooks Park. 

 

City of Daphne,$15,000 to initiate the use of low impact development and green infrastructure practices and incentives for the City and to recommend policy and subdivision regulations changes.

 

City of Fairhope, $50,000 to prepare a Volanta Gulley Watershed Management Plan and at least two related stormwater management projects.

 

City of Foley, $82,500 to restore Wolf Creek to its natural channel design, reversing impacts to this section of Wolf Creek caused by stormwater runoff.

 

City of Orange Beach, $27,500.00 to enhance wetlands along Highway 161 to water quality in Cotton Bayou, and $30,000 to develop a Canal Road Overlay District to minimize paved surfaces and promote infiltration, while expanding bicycling and walkability. 

Three Mile Creek Watershed Management Plan

 

Three Mile Creek and its surrounding watershed present an extraordinary opportunity for the Cities of Mobile and Prichard to turn what is now a community liability, due to its degraded condition, into a community amenity and a waterway destination. Throughout the process of developing this Watershed Management Plan (WMP), public input regarding the restoration of Three Mile Creek was incredibly supportive, particularly to make Three Mile Creek an accessible recreational destination. Three Mile Creek suffers from the negative effects of stormwater runoff  including trash/litter; bacteria from sewage (i.e., pathogens); excessive amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus from fertilizers (i.e., nutrients); and erosion (i.e., sediments in the water). The purpose of this Watershed Management Plan (WMP) is to document the current state of water quality and ecological impairment. Objectives of this planning include:

You can review the final Watershed Management Plan and all Appendices below or in our Library of Documents.

Three Mile Creek Watershed Management Plan

Toulmins Spring Branch Stormwater Management Study

Maharam Dakua served in Mobile, Alabama as part of the U.S. State Department’s Community Solutions Program.  For the past four-months, Maharam joined an Auburn University team hired by MBNEP to work in the Toulminville area of the Three-Mile Creek Watershed. This project aimed at developing a model to help Mobile County and city planners make science based decisions related to capital improvement budgets for infrastructure maintenance. His primary role was to learn about community concerns related to flooding and water pollution by engaging the residents in learning about best practices for managing and reducing water volumes and other sources of pollution. Maharam created a presentation to reflect his work within the Toulmins Spring Branch of the Three Mile Creek Watershed. 

Toulmins Spring Branch: Stormwater Management - Maharam Dakua

What We Do

The Mobile Bay National Estuary Program is a voluntary, non-regulatory program bringing together citizens, government agencies, business/industry, conservation and environmental organizations, and academic institutions to promote a community and culturally-based approach to watershed management: working together to address the environmental issues outlined in the CCMP.

The Program works with scientists, public agencies, and experts to assess water quality, living resource abundance, the rate of habitat loss and conservation, and the ability of communities to grow while maintaining environmental health.

These assessments have aided in developing:

The Mobile Bay National Estuary Program acts as a catalyst for action by “putting the pieces together”, that is, bringing a diverse array of stakeholders to the table to address many ongoing environmental issues including but not limited to:

Management Conference

The Mobile Bay NEP Management Conference consists of four consituent committees: Community Action Committee, Community Resources Committee, Government Networks Committee, and Project Implementation Committee; a Science Advisory Committee of experts from the various scientific disciplines who provide insights and a sound basis to be used by the other committees in their decision making processes; a Finance Committee that advises on raising the non-federal matching dollars to implement activities of the CCMP; and an Executive Committee – made up of representatives from each of the four main committees, EPA, the Science Advisory Committee, the Finance Committee  and three at-large members – that develops policies on issues and funding, reviews/approves work plans and budgets, evaluates the performance of the Director, and sets financial goals for non-federal share. 

A key principle of the Management Conference is to coordinate and cooperate with other ongoing resource management activities to avoid unnecessary duplication.  In this regard, the program office plays a major role in coordinating estuary projects and outreach activities, thus providing a more far–reaching benefit than that of simply CCMP project management. 

Executive Committee (active):  The purpose of this committee is to provide general guidance, direction and support for the program.  The Committee develops policies on issues and funding; Reviews/Approves work plans; sets financial goals for non-federal share obligation required to match EPA funds received (Finance Committee); and provides a platform for vetting emerging environmental issues from a variety of perspectives. 

Government Networks Committee (active):    The purpose of this committee is to bring State Agency Heads and regional government administrators together with local officials of the target area to more effectively communicate local needs/understand agency functions.  

Business Resources Committee (active):  The purpose of this committee is to bring together a balance of interested community leaders from industry, business, environmental services, and the non-profit sector to identify ways of balancing different sector needs and identifying commonalities among sectors; and to identify coastal issues that impact their interests.

Project Implementation Committee (active):  The purpose of this committee is to bring together resource management agencies and organizations to undertake environmental restoration and education projects.  In the past year, the “PIC” began to hold joint meetings with the Coastal Alabama Clean Water Partnership to align efforts.

Community Action Committee (active):  The purpose of this committee is to bring together grassroots organizations for networking, information sharing, issues development, and cooperative training purposes that support the development of grassroots capacity for undertaking environmental activities on a place based scale.  

Science Advisory Committee (active):  The purpose of this committee is to provide guidance on priority setting by the program based on scientific understanding of the issues and to recommend necessary monitoring and research activities to inform the development of status and trends of the estuarine environment.

Finance Committee (active):   The purpose of this committee is to develop local ownership, responsibility, and partnerships for investing in the long term conservation and protection of coastal Alabama's estuarine resources by establishing an investment program that mixes State, local, and private sources to exceed the non-federal share requirements of the EPA grant as well as other external funding awards. 

The Watershed

The Mobile Bay Watershed - Map

 

A watershed is defined as the area of land that drains to one particular stream or water body.  Each stream has its own watershed. Topography is the key element determining this area of land. The boundary of a watershed is defined by the highest elevations that surround the stream. A drop of water that falls outside of that boundary will drain to a different watershed.

Watersheds come in all shapes and sizes. They cross city, county, state, and national boundaries. Large watersheds are made up of many smaller sub-watersheds.  In the continental U. S., there are 2,110 watersheds large enough to be “coded” by the U. S. Geological Survey; and if Hawaii Alaska, and Puerto Rico are included, there are 2,267.

The Mobile Bay watershed covers approximately 65% of the state of Alabama and portions of Mississippi, Georgia, and Tennessee. Serving as a drainage system for 43,662 square miles, the Mobile Bay watershed is the sixth largest in the nation by area and at 62,000 cubic feet per second on average it has the fourth largest freshwater inflow on the North American continent.

The Mobile Bay estuary is the coastal transition zone between the Mobile Bay Watershed and the Gulf of Mexico. The Mobile Bay and Mobile-Tensaw Delta are subject to an unusually large number of major uses with international implications, including the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway, the Port of Alabama, commercial fisheries, industry, tourism and recreation, and coastal development. 

Spring 2011 Newsletter

Click here for the Spring 2011 edition of our newsletter "Alabama Current Connection."

Mobile Bay Watershed

Some content here.

The Coast

Geology. Coastal Alabama has four physiographic subdivisions.  The southern pine hills comprise the portions of eastern and western coastal Alabama with elevated or rolling topography. The alluvial plain, deltaic plain, and coastal lowlands are relatively flat.  Coastal lowlands are adjacent to Mississippi Sound, and extend along margins of Mobile, Bon Secour, and Perdido Bays. Alluvial and deltaic plains extend northward along the Tombigbee and Alabama Rivers. The coastal boundaries of these relatively shallow bays are defined by various barrier islands and spits. The Mississippi-Alabama shelf is a triangular area seaward of the barrier islands that extends from the Mississippi River Delta to the De Soto Canyon.

Coastal and offshore Alabama overlie sediments that range from pre-Jurassic to Holocene. These rock units are possibly more than 7,620 m (25,000 ft) thick at the coast and decrease southward by 1.9 to 9.4 m/km (10-50 ft/mi). The topography and sedimentation of the coastal and continental shelf result from tidal and current movements, as well as river discharge and delta formation and destruction.

The prominent structural geological features along coastal Alabama include the peripheral faults, Mobile graben, the Citronelle domal anticline, and the Wiggins uplift.  Tectonic hazards are not a problem in coastal Alabama because there are no known active faults.

Oil and gas production is well established in coastal Alabama with developed fields at Citronelle, Chunchula, Hatter's Pond, and South Carlton. There is a high potential for future gas and oil production.

Coastal Alabama has a dynamic hydrologic system with the focal point of the system being the Mobile River and Mobile Bay into which it flows. Average yearly (freshwater) discharge from this system into the Gulf of Mexico is 50 billion cubic meters(12 mi3). Flooding is perhaps the worst natural hazard affecting coastal Alabama and may result from storm surges and heavy rainfall associated with hurricanes and other tropical storms. Flood discharge has a pronounced effect on inland and estuarine water salinity and coastal sedimentation.

Ecology.  According to NatureServe, Alabama boasts the fifth highest species diversity among the fifty states and the highest of any state east of the Mississippi River.  However, Alabama ranks second, following only Hawaii, in the number of species that are presumed or possibly extinct and fourth in the percentage of a state’s plants and animals that are at risk of extinction due to rarity or other factors.

Ecosystems may be classified according to the physical environment or dominant type of species present.  Different habitats are commonly considered ecosystems, but many or most could more accurately be considered components of larger ecosystems.  In coastal Alabama, local scientists and resource managers have identified habitats critical to sustain the species diversity along the coast, including: beaches and dunes, oyster reefs, SAV, intertidal marshes and flats, freshwater wetlands, maritime forests, pine savannahs, and long leaf pine forests.

Beaches and dunes drive the economic engine that fuels the economies of the coastal region and the State.  They also provide habitat for many shorebirds and other sensitive species and some level of protection for inland buildings.  The main threat to the dune habitat is coastal development, but foot traffic and loose pets are also significant stressors.

SAV (Submerged Aquatic Vegetation) is commonly considered the “hallmark of a healthy estuary,” due to roles as nursery habitat and refuge for fish and shellfish, nutrient absorption, oxygen provision, and sediment stabilization.  Distribution of SAV has declined dramatically in coastal Alabama over the last 60 years.  Only 31% of acreage documented in 1940, 1955, and 1966 in the MBNEP study area appeared in 2002 imagery.  While some local increases were noted in 2008 and 2009, an additional 1,300 acres were lost over that six- to seven-year period.  Stressors include sedimentation from stream bank erosion and dredging, nutrient over-enrichment, scarring from boat propellers and even pressures related to selective fishery harvest.

Wetlands, whether freshwater or salt marsh, provide a host of valuable ecosystem services, including providing complex habitats that support a diversity of species, filtration of nutrients and pollutants, shoreline and sediment stabilization, and protection of upland areas from flooding and storm energy.  Gulf coast wetland loss (and especially that of the state of Louisiana) has been far more dramatic than in other American coastal watersheds.  The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that over half of Gulf wetlands were lost between 1780 and 1980, and almost 400,000 acres of freshwater wetlands disappeared from Gulf watersheds between 1998 and 2004.  Over the last four decades, Alabama has experienced wetlands loss at four times the national average.  While significant loss is attributed to hurricanes, storms, saltwater intrusion, and sea level rise, human activities such as construction and development, installation of oil and gas infrastructure, and logging have also contributed to this problem.

Locally, the decline of oyster reef habitat has been related to climate influences.  Persistent drought conditions and increased seawater flow through the Katrina-generated cut in Dauphin Island have increased the salinity of existing oyster habitat, providing conditions favorable for oyster drills, which have decimated the oyster fishery.  Like SAV and salt marshes, oyster reefs provide exceptionally complex habitat that provides food and refuge for a diversity of species.  Since each oyster is capable of filtering over a gallon of water an hour, they contribute to improving water quality, especially when populations are healthy.

Like previously mentioned aquatic habitats, maritime forests, pine savannahs, and long leaf pine forests support the diversity of birds, mammals, reptiles, and other upland wildlife species which contribute to our state’s exceptional biodiversity and our outdoor-centered quality of life.  Development pressures and fire suppression are examples of the human-related stressors that have fragmented and eliminated much of these productive habitats.  Long leaf pine forests covered 90 million acres of the American southeast when Europeans settled the land.  Less than five percent still exists, supporting species diversity that rivals the most productive of earth’s ecosystems, including threatened and endangered species like the red-cockaded woodpecker, indigo snake, gopher tortoise, and many rare plants.

The Estuary

Estuary (ĕs’chū-ĕr’ē) – a partially enclosed coastal body of water, having an open connection with the ocean, where freshwater from inland is mixed with saltwater from the sea. Estuaries represent some of the most sensitive and ecologically important habitats on earth. They provide sanctuary for many species of waterfowl, store nutrients for larval and juvenile marine life, and serve as breeding grounds for many desirable species of marine life. Since estuaries commonly provide excellent harbors, most of the large ports in the United States (New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Mobile, Galveston, Seattle, and San Francisco) are located in estuaries. However, the development of high-density population centers causes deleterious effects that can destroy the very properties of the estuary that made development of the region possible. Human impact on estuaries includes reclamation of tidal land by filling; pollution from sewage, solid waste, industrial effluent; increased sedimentation in the estuary; and alteration of the salinity of estuarine waters by withdrawal or increased influx of freshwater.

More simply stated, an estuary is where freshwater from rivers mixes with salt water from the sea.

Alabama’s estuaries are considered environmentally and economically important because of their exceptional biological diversity and productivity. These estuaries, where the fresh water from several rivers meets the salt water of the Gulf of Mexico, support both fresh and saltwater species and serve as nursery habitat for many commercially and recreationally important fish and shellfish.

The Mobile Bay Estuary includes waters within Baldwin and Mobile Counties and Mobile Bay.  This estuary is greatly affected by upstream waters that flow into it from the expansive Mobile Bay Watershed.  Other coastal estuaries in and near Alabama include Mississippi Sound westward to the Alabama-Mississippi State Line, Perdido Bay, and their tributaries.  The Mobile Bay National Estuary Program service area includes all of Mobile and Baldwin Counties, as well as Alabama State marine waters in the north central Gulf of Mexico, extending three miles south of Dauphin Island and the Fort Morgan Peninsula . (As displayed to the right)

The Bay

Mobile Bay’s average depth is only about 10 feet, which is among the most-shallow for a bay of its size. It is approximately 32 miles “tall” (north to south), 23 miles across at its widest point, and about 10 miles across at the City of Mobile. A combination of wind and tide delivers salty Gulf waters from the south into the Bay that mix with varying amounts of freshwater from the Mobile-Tensaw River Delta. Due to the shallow nature of the bay, dynamic climatic conditions, and man-made hydrologic modifications, salinity conditions in the Bay are remarkably variable.

Several factors contribute to the dynamic salinity conditions that characterize Mobile Bay.  Summer thunderstorms and winter cold fronts produce heavy downpours that contribute to an average of about 66 inches of rainfall annually – the highest average nationally for a city the size of Mobile – along with a relatively high frequency of tropical cyclone landfalls. Consequently river flows are naturally highly variable.  The Bay is influenced by a single daily or “diurnal” tidal cycle with tide changes that average a little less than a foot and a half and maximum changes exceeding two and a half feet. The resulting hydrology is dynamic, complex, and necessary to support the diversity of plant and animals found in and around the Bay.

The Alabama State Port Authority (ASPA), established in 1928 as a State governmental agency, operates the deepwater port facilities in Mobile Bay. The port complex includes facilities for handling general cargo, such as containers, forest products, and metals, as well as liquid bulk and dry bulk cargo, such as chemicals, coal, iron ore, and steel. The port complex features more than four million square feet of warehouse space and open yards and almost 40 berths for ships.  A 75-mile rail line links Port of Mobile facilities and provides connections to major freight railroads.  In 2009 the port of Mobile ranked 14th(out of 68 ports) in the U. S. in total foreign trade and 12thin total domestic trade.

A little bit of History....Apparently, Spanish explorers sailed in the area of Mobile Bay as early as 1500, as the Bay was marked on early Spanish maps as Bahia del Espiritu Sancto (the Bay of the Holy Spirit).  Just 27 years after Christopher Columbus first introduced America to the western world, Admiral Alvarez de Pineda, a Spanish explorer, became the first European to sail into the waters of Mobile Bay in 1519.  It would be another twenty years before another European would actually take a step in today’s Alabama.

Between 1539 and 1541, the well-known explorer and marauder Hernando de Soto explored the area and encountered and destroyed a fortified Mobile Indian town of Mauvila, from which modern Mobile derives its name.  This battle with Chief Tuskaloosa and his warriors took place somewhere north of present-day Mobile.  While Tuskaloosa himself was neither killed nor captured, virtually all of the inhabitants of Mauvila were killed.  The first white colonists in Alabama landed on the shores of Mobile Bay in 1559 under the leadership of Tristán de Luna y Arellano following a hurricane that destroyed most of their ships and much of their Pensacola Bay colony.

A Canadian born Frenchman, Pierre Le Moyne, Sieur dIberville would be the first European to leave a considerable mark on the history of Mobile. In the late 1600s the French government was laying plans to settle and therefore claim the mouth of the Mississippi River. The Spanish, upon learning of plans for a permanent French settlement on the Gulf, quickly scrambled to occupy Pensacola Bay in 1698, denying the French port facilities there.  After Iberville’s first reconnaissance for a Mississippi settlement in 1699, he returned to the Gulf and began the establishment of warehouses and port facilities on Mobile Bay’s Dauphin Island because of the presence of a deep water harbor (Pelican Bay) and the strategic importance of slowing the Spanish and English march across the eastern frontier towards the Mississippi River.  They named the island, “Massacre Island” because of the presence of some sixty skeletons that were found when they landed there.  By 1701, Dauphin Island had become an important military post of the growing French colony of Louisiana, and Iberville’s brother, Jean Baptiste Le Moyne, Sieur d’Bienville, succeeded him as Governor of Louisiana (the first of three such tenures).  

Upon Iberville’s recommendation, Bienville established the first “Mobile settlement” and the capital of French Louisiana in 1702 at a site upstream from Mobile Bay along the Tensaw River at 27-Mile Bluff. The settlement was built in proximity to Mobile Indian villages , and the fort that was its center was called Fort Louis de la Louisiane de Mobile (for their Grand Monarch and employer, King Louis the XIV).  One purpose of locating that original settlement 26 miles upriver was to encourage settlement along the river.  Topography was also a consideration, since there were no bluffs considered adequate at the river’s mouth. Within two years, in 1704, Fort Louis was the center of the French plans in the region.  There were 80 houses in the town and a population of 259.  This location allowed better access to the interior but unfortunately was susceptible to unpredictable and frequent flooding.

The town was relocated to the mouth of the Mobile River in 1711.  There were several reasons for the move, including frequent flooding, outbreaks of disease, difficultiesproviding adequate defenses for the port at Dauphin Island, and to facilitate better communication and commerce with ocean vessels.  A new fort, called Fort Conde after the King’s cousin, was established, and the town that grew around it evolved into present day MobileTwo books were recommended by Research Historian Charles Torrey of the Museum of Mobile for detailed histories of colonial Mobile.  Old Mobile, Fort Louis de la Louisiane 1702-1711 (1977) by Jay Higgenbotham, and Colonial Mobile (1898) by Peter Joseph Hamilton,a historical study of the Alabama-Tombigbee basin from the discovery of Mobile bay in 1519 until the demolition of Fort Charlotte in 1821, are among the best references to the colonial history of the Mobile Bay area.  The French occupied Mobile until the Treaty of Paris in 1763 ceded the Louisiana territory (including Mobile) to England.  The English re-named French Fort Conde, Fort Charlotte.

In 1780 during the Revolutionary War, Spain, an ally of the fledgling Continental government, attacked the British garrison at Fort Charlotte commanded by Captain Elias Durford.  Under attack by troops led by General Bernardo de Galvez, Captain Durford destroyed the entire city of Mobile so that the houses and shops of the town could not provide cover for the attacking Spanish troops.  On March 13, 1780, the British surrendered Fort Charlotte to de Galvez, ending England's claim to the modern state of Alabama.  Mobile became part of the colony of Spanish West Florida and for over 30 years was controlled from Pensacola until 1813 when it was captured by American forces.

During the War of 1812, American General James Wilkinson took a force of troops from New Orleans to capture Mobile from the Spanish.  Following Spanish surrender in April of 1813 the Mobile area was added to the existing Mississippi Territory of the United States.  In March, 1817, Mississippi joined the union as a state, splitting the Mississippi Territory in half, and leaving Mobile, for the next two years, as part of the new Alabama Territory.  After two years as a territory, the U.S. State of Alabama was formed, and Mobile became a voting region of the United States in 1819.

Mobile experienced a boom surrounding the export of cotton in the years leading up the Civil War, and following secession in 1861 it was heavily fortified by the Confederates.  Union naval forces, under the command of Admiral David Farragut, blockaded the Bay, leading to the construction and operation of blockade runners who maintained a trickle of commerce into and out of the city.  In August, 1864, after fighting past Forts Gaines and Morgan, which guarded the mouth of the Bay, Farragut defeated a small force of wooden Confederate gunboats and the ironclad CSS Tennessee in the Battle of Mobile Bay, where Farragut is purported to have said, “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead.”  On May 25, 1865, weeks after dissolution of the Confederacy, an ammunition depot explosion killed 300 persons and destroyed a significant portion of the city of Mobile.

Other historical landmarks:

Mon Louis Island

Latest

2012-13 Habitat Creation/Shoreline Stabilization at Mon Louis Island

April 12, 2012 Community Meeting

Maps/Useful information

Reports

Community Meeting Materials

May 26, 2011 Community Meeting
February 17, 2011 Community Meeting
July 29, 2010 Community Meeting

Who We Are

Recognizing the importance of the Mobile Bay Estuary and the threats posed to its health by local growth and development, a team of investigators, led by the South Alabama Regional Planning Commission, developed a nomination package for Mobile Bay’s inclusion in the National Estuary Program. Alabama Governor Fob James, Jr. then submitted the nomination package for consideration by the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in March, 1995. In September of the same year, EPA Administrator Carol Browner, having concurred with the justification provided within the nomination package, convened a Management Conference, and the Mobile Bay National Estuary Program (MBNEP) was created.

Administered through and funded by the EPA under provisions of the Clean Water Act (CWA) of 1987, the initial task for the MBNEP was the development of a Comprehensive Conservation Management Plan (CCMP) as a blueprint for conserving the estuary. Through the efforts of literally hundreds of participants and thousands of hours of volunteer time, our CCMP received final approval on April 22, 2002. Since that time, MBNEP has worked diligently to implement this plan and respond to emerging environmental challenges. All of the 28 NEPs recognized across the country under the CWA are similarly guided by their own CCMPs.

The mission of the MBNEP is to promote wise stewardship of the water quality characteristics and living resource base of the Mobile Bay estuarine system. We are a non-regulatory program, so we implement the CCMP by bringing together citizens; local, state, and federal government agencies; businesses and industries; conservation and environmental organizations; and academic institutions to meet the environmental challenges that face the unique and imperiled resources that characterize our coastal estuaries. We engage these groups in determining how to best treat the Bay, our associated coastal waters, and their surrounding watersheds to ensure their protection and conservation for our lifetimes and beyond.

Press Releases

2010

Baldwin County Watershed Coalition
SAV Report
Oil Spill
Luscher Park Restoration
Gresham Smith
DWWG Meeting
D’Olive Meeting
CERF
BCWC Public Meeting 10-23-09
BCWB Public Meeting 2-11

2009

Spanish Fort HS Marine Biology Contest
Prichard On the Move Agenda
HelenWood Park Volunteers
HelenWood Park 10-28-09
New Director
MBNEP Staff Changes 9-11-09
Little Lagoon SAV Restoration
Indiana Kids
Helen Wood Park 8-20-09
Grassroots Organization Receive YSIs and Training
D’Olive Watershed Management Plan
Critical Water Issues Forum 3-26-09
Critical Water Issues Forum 3-4-09
Baldwin County Watershed Coalition

2008

Yeager Resignation 06.03.08
Sept. 17 Meeting Press Release
State of the Bay
MBNEP Public Meetings 2.08
Little DI Tree Planting
Critical Water Issues Forum
CAC Mini-Grant Awards

2007

CAC Press Release.01.19.07
New MBNEP Website
Derelict Crab Trap Recovery 03.24.07
MBNEP Public Meeting 04.26.07
Grasses In Classes Creola Project
Little DI Tree Planting
Oyster Release Press Release October 18, 2007-edit
11.10.07 MCWCA Marsh Planting
BCSC Meeting 12.05.07
Green Coast 2008 Sponsors 12.21.07

News Coverage

2010 News Coverage

December 2, 2010 Mike deGruy to Film Undersea Effects of Gulf Oil Spill
December 1, 2010 Bays and Bayous Focus of Environmentalists
December 1, 2010 Award-winning underwater filmmaker fell in love with water in Mobile
November 29, 2010 Scientists, federal officials who led oil spill response headed to Mobile
November 9, 2010 Baldwin County stormwater initiative far from dead after voters reject Local Amendment One
November 7, 2010 $2.4 million purchase of The Meadows moving ahead in South Baldwin County
October 26, 2010 Baldwin County Residents to Vote on ‘Rain Tax’
October 22, 2010 Baldwin County Watershed Coalition amendment explained
October 21, 2010 Legislators field questions on stormwater amendment
October 21, 2010 Baldwin County Sound Off
October 18, 2010 Baldwin County Watershed Coalition Steering Committee to hold Daphne public meeting
October 15, 2010 Voters in Baldwin County giving ambitious stormwater management plan the skunk eye
October 15, 2010 Baldwin County Watershed Coalition meeting outlines amendment’s purpose
October 15, 2010 Watershed plan deserves a fair hearing
October 14, 2010 Baldwin County Stormwater amendment faces critics at public forum
October 13, 2010 In Baldwin, is a hard rain a-gonna fall?
October 12, 2010 What is Local Amendment One?
October 10, 2010 Insight: Baldwin poised to deal with stormwater runoff
September 23, 2010 Gulf Shores officials wary of stormwater management plan
September 19, 2010 Legislators take questions at Baldwin County Watershed Coalition meeting
September 17, 2010 Officials field questions about Nov. 2 stormwater initiative vote in Baldwin County
September 17, 2010 Coastal team to revive Gulf oysters, marshes
August 29, 2010 Baldwin County stormwater corporation bill will be ready before vote
August 29, 2010 Baldwin commissioners weigh stormwater coalition request
July 22, 2010 Watershed progress hinges on cooperation
July 16, 2010 Fairhope committee hears about watershed referendum
July 14, 2010 Development patterns influencing erosion
July 05, 2010 D’Olive watershed draft plan ready in Baldwin County
June 26, 2010 D’Olive Bay Watershed restoration plan to be unveiled
May 30, 2010 Oil Spill Response, Recovery, and Restoration – MBNEP’s full-page ad in the Mobile Press Register
May 19, 2010 Saving the bay from the spill: Coastal Estuary Restoration Fund established
May 12, 2010 ASMS students star in film for Mobile Bay National Estuary Program
May 4, 2010 Volunteers clean up Dauphin Island ahead of oil spill
April 29, 2010 Locals in Mobile Bay area rally volunteers, supplies for oil response
April 28, 2010 Volunteers needed for possible oil spill cleanup
April 22, 2010 Realtors hear of watershed issues
March 16, 2010 Coalition to prepare draft D’Olive watershed plan
March 15, 2010 Letter to the Editor: Removal of derelict crab traps makes bay safer
February 21, 2010 Officials list costly Baldwin drainage problems
February 21, 2010 Baldwin County facing millions of dollars of erosion, drainage problems
January 4, 2010 Fly Creek study delayed by access problems: some property owners won’t let researchers on their land to take water samples

2009 News Coverage

December 12, 2009 Watershed group names problems and solutions
November 7, 2009 Baker High students brave marsh muck to restore natural sites
September 22, 2009 Swann appointed Mobile Bay NEP director
September 20, 2009 Volunteers turn out to clean up Alabama coast
September 7, 2009 Mobile’s Three Mile Creek to be cleaned, restored…
September 2, 2009 80 Percent Met
August 7, 2009 Wolf Bay Watershed Director Stan Mahoney Dies
August 5, 2009 Environmentalist Mahoney Dies
July 5, 2009 Jubilee Frequency May Signal Early Dead Zone in Bay
July 1, 2009 Letter to the Editor: Mobile Does Have a Recycling Plan – Phyllis Wingard
July 1, 2009 Expert Says Clear Water Would Vitalize Mobile Bay’s Grass Beds
June 8, 2009 Regional Watershed Program Proposed
April 27, 2009 Some Rather Big Shoes Have Been Filled
April 15, 2009 Learn to Be an Oyster Gardener
March 30, 2009 Device Could Help Local Water Testing
March 29, 2009 Water Groups Get Testing Help
March 29, 2009 Watershed Projects OKed
March 27, 2009 Fish River Study Set Saturday
February 16, 2009 Source Testing for Fish River Pollutants Planned
February 10, 2009 Magnolia River Sedimentation Study Begins
February 8, 2009 Seeking the Source
January 12, 2009 Oyster Gardening on Alabama Coast Catches On

2008 News Coverage

December 6, 2008 Report Says Mobile Bay is Pretty Healthy
November 15, 2008 Wanted: Engineer for Watershed Management
September 19, 2008 Public Hears Plans for D’Olive Bay
September 18, 2008 Problem Areas Identified
August 4, 2008 Consensus Builds on D’Olive Bay Cleanup
August 3, 2008 Bulkheads Blamed for Bathtubbing of Mobile Bay
July 30, 2008 Plan: Stop Mud from D’Olive
July 9, 2008 Council Asked to Tax or Ban Plastic Bags
July 3, 2008 Yeager Ends Tenure as Mobile Bay NEP Director
June 17, 2008 Needed: Big Hip-Waders
June 3, 2008 NOAA Teams Up With Local Experts to Restore Alabama Shoreline
May 4, 2008 Leadership Baldwin Session Highlights Environmental Issues
March 19, 2008 Council Just Says Yes
February 28, 2008 Derelict Crab Trap Removal Project Saves Marine Life
February 25, 2008 Tossing Mullet 02.25.08
February 24, 2008 Estuary Expert Has Always Loved the Great Outdoors
February 15, 2008 Estuary Program Invites Funding Proposals
January 20, 2008 Little Lagoon Group Meeting Set

Newsletters

A quarterly newsletter of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, State Lands Division, Coastal Section and the Mobile Bay National Estuary Program

Spring 2011 (Vol. VI, Issue 1)
Spring 2010 (Vol. V, Issue 1)
Summer 2009 (Vol. IV, Issue 3)
Spring 2009 (Vol. IV, Issue 2)
Winter 2008/2009 (Vol. IV, Issue 1)
Fall 2008 (Vol. III, Issue 3)
Summer 2008 (Vol. III, Issue 2)
Spring 2008 (Vol. III, Issue 1)
Winter 2007-08 (Vol. II, Issue 4)
Fall 2007 (Vol II, Issue 3)
Summer 2007 (Vol II, Issue 2)
Spring 2007 (Vol II, Issue 1)
Winter 2006/2007 (Vol I, Issue 4)
Summer 2006 (Vol I, Issue 3)
Summer 2006 (Vol I, Issue 2)
Spring 2006 (Vol I, Issue 1)
Summer 2005 (Vol 3, Issue 2)
Spring 2005 (Vol 3, Issue 1)

Monitoring & Mapping

MyMobileBay.com Real Time Monitoring
Mississippi-Alabama Habitats Tool
Gulf of Mexico Ecosystem Viewer

Accomplishments

Air Deposition Monitoring: From 2003 to 2009, MBNEP funded the operation of two air monitoring sites in Mobile and Baldwin Counties. Data was analyzed by the University of Illinois and catalogued by the National Atmospheric Deposition Monitoring Program to identify problems related to toxic chemicals and nutrient enrichment. This information is critical to understanding of the impact that mercury and organic materials have on our coastal waters and living resources.

Derelict Crab Trap Removal: MBNEP has continued to partner with Alabama Marine Resources Division in organizing Derelict Crab Trap Removals on the Mobile Bay Causeway. Crab traps are used extensively in our local waters to harvest blue crabs; but each year about 40 percent of these traps are lost due to storms, broken lines or neglect. These “derelict traps” continue to work, causing crabs and fish to be trapped and die needlessly. They also damage boats and motors, cause personal injury and ruin the view of a beautiful mud flat at low tide. In 2010, more than 50 volunteers recovered over 300 derelict crab traps.

SAV Mapping: In 2009, MBNEP in partnership with Alabama Coastal Program funded a submerged aquatic vegetation mapping effort for Mobile Bay and our coastal waters. This report compared 2008 and 2009 seagrass coverage with that of a similar 2002 survey. While some gains were observed, the report indicated a loss of almost 1,400 acres of seagrasses in our estuary. Seagrass beds are vital nursery habitats for commercially and recreationally valuable fish and shellfish and also improve water quality by trapping sediments and other small particles. MBNEP’s commitment to monitoring seagrass trends ensures a better understanding of areas of concern and helps us identify the factors that impact them.

Helen Wood Park Marsh Restoration: With funding from the Gulf of Mexico Foundation, MBNEP completed the restoration of a three-acre marsh at the City of Mobile’s Helen Wood Park. Four to eight inches of marsh bottom were removed from the site in order to remove the invasive common reed (Phragmites australis) and restore the natural hydrology of the marsh. Baker and Murphy High School Grasses in Classes Program students and 30 community volunteers then planted over 13,000 native marsh plants, including bulrush, black needle rush, smooth cordgrass, and arrowhead.

Dog River Park Shoreline Stabilization: In early 2009, MBNEP staff developed a plan for restoring the shoreline at Dog River Park—the only access direct access to Dog River in the City of Mobile. To halt severe erosion from recreational boat wakes, the shoreline was redesigned to include stabilizing timber structures installed between a series of pocket beaches. MBNEP staff and volunteers then planted 200 native marsh plants in the pocket beaches to further secure the shoreline and provide habitat for Dog River’s wildlife.

Mobile County Grasses in Classes Program: With funding support from MBNEP, four public high schools are participating in the Mobile County Grasses in Classes Program. Satsuma, Baker, Murphy, and Alma Bryant High School students have established and maintained nurseries to grow native wetland and dune plants for restoration projects. These students are then able to participate in the implementation of restoration projects with local resource managers. Through this program, students learn the value of maintaining a healthy environment while participating in hands-on habitat restoration activities. By studying the ecological importance of coastal plant species and by participating in the restoration, students gain a sense of stewardship and awareness of the sensitive and fragile ecosystem in which they live.

D’Olive Creek Watershed Planning: Beginning with the development of the Lake Forest subdivision, commercial and residential development has contributed to negative environmental impacts on D’Olive and Tiawasee Creeks and subsequently the water quality of D’Olive Bay. The MBNEP’s leadership and resources led to the hiring of Thompson Engineering to develop a Comprehensive Watershed Management Plan to reduce upstream sediment inputs, remediate and restore past effects of sedimentation, reduce sediment loads, and mitigate future impacts.
Air Deposition Monitoring: From 2003 to 2009, MBNEP funded the operation of two air monitoring sites in Mobile and Baldwin Counties. Data was analyzed by the University of Illinois and catalogued by the National Atmospheric Deposition Monitoring Program to identify problems related to toxic chemicals and nutrient enrichment. This information is critical to understanding of the impact that mercury and organic materials have on our coastal waters and living resources.

Derelict Crab Trap Removal: MBNEP has continued to partner with Alabama Marine Resources Division in organizing Derelict Crab Trap Removals on the Mobile Bay Causeway. Crab traps are used extensively in our local waters to harvest blue crabs; but each year about 40 percent of these traps are lost due to storms, broken lines or neglect. These “derelict traps” continue to work, causing crabs and fish to be trapped and die needlessly. They also damage boats and motors, cause personal injury and ruin the view of a beautiful mud flat at low tide. In 2010, more than 50 volunteers recovered over 300 derelict crab traps.

SAV Mapping: In 2009, MBNEP in partnership with Alabama Coastal Program funded a submerged aquatic vegetation mapping effort for Mobile Bay and our coastal waters. This report compared 2008 and 2009 seagrass coverage with that of a similar 2002 survey. While some gains were observed, the report indicated a loss of almost 1,400 acres of seagrasses in our estuary. Seagrass beds are vital nursery habitats for commercially and recreationally valuable fish and shellfish and also improve water quality by trapping sediments and other small particles. MBNEP’s commitment to monitoring seagrass trends ensures a better understanding of areas of concern and helps us identify the factors that impact them.

Helen Wood Park Marsh Restoration: With funding from the Gulf of Mexico Foundation, MBNEP completed the restoration of a three-acre marsh at the City of Mobile’s Helen Wood Park. Four to eight inches of marsh bottom were removed from the site in order to remove the invasive common reed (Phragmites australis) and restore the natural hydrology of the marsh. Baker and Murphy High School Grasses in Classes Program students and 30 community volunteers then planted over 13,000 native marsh plants, including bulrush, black needle rush, smooth cordgrass, and arrowhead.

Dog River Park Shoreline Stabilization: In early 2009, MBNEP staff developed a plan for restoring the shoreline at Dog River Park—the only access direct access to Dog River in the City of Mobile. To halt severe erosion from recreational boat wakes, the shoreline was redesigned to include stabilizing timber structures installed between a series of pocket beaches. MBNEP staff and volunteers then planted 200 native marsh plants in the pocket beaches to further secure the shoreline and provide habitat for Dog River’s wildlife.

Mobile County Grasses in Classes Program: With funding support from MBNEP, four public high schools are participating in the Mobile County Grasses in Classes Program. Satsuma, Baker, Murphy, and Alma Bryant High School students have established and maintained nurseries to grow native wetland and dune plants for restoration projects. These students are then able to participate in the implementation of restoration projects with local resource managers. Through this program, students learn the value of maintaining a healthy environment while participating in hands-on habitat restoration activities. By studying the ecological importance of coastal plant species and by participating in the restoration, students gain a sense of stewardship and awareness of the sensitive and fragile ecosystem in which they live.

D’Olive Creek Watershed Planning: Beginning with the development of the Lake Forest subdivision, commercial and residential development has contributed to negative environmental impacts on D’Olive and Tiawasee Creeks and subsequently the water quality of D’Olive Bay. The MBNEP’s leadership and resources led to the hiring of Thompson Engineering to develop a Comprehensive Watershed Management Plan to reduce upstream sediment inputs, remediate and restore past effects of sedimentation, reduce sediment loads, and mitigate future impacts.

D’Olive Watershed

D’Olive Creek, Tiawassee Creek and Joe’s Branch Comprehensive Watershed Management Plan

Most Recent

Relevant Links and Publications

Daphne Environmental Programs Manager Ashley Campbell provides some perspective as she sits on a portion of collapsed stream bank at the head cut tributary to Joe’s Branch on Westminster Village property. 

Baldwin County Watershed Coalition

Resources

What is the BCWC?

The Baldwin County Watershed Coalition (BCWC) is the result of this collaboration, which includes municipal and county representatives comprised of both staff and elected officials, representatives of local environmental organizations, state legislators, and representatives of local business and development interests. The mission of the BCWC is to act as a voluntary, non-regulatory association of local interests that will operate on a regional/watershed scale “to support local communities in managing flooding, drainage, and issues related to stormwater runoff in Baldwin County while preserving and improving water quality and the use of our water resources.” A public corporation proposed by the BCWC would be funded by a small, equitable user fee, based generally on area of impervious surface (hard surface which does not allow water penetration), with credits for innovative stormwater management features. Its function will include watershed stewardship provision, standards and criteria development, regulatory compliance coordination, stream system management, and partnership in local stormwater programs.

Why do we need regional stormwater management?

In Baldwin County, increases in population over the past ten years have driven an economic boom resulting in the construction of new homes, roads and businesses. This rapid conversion of land from natural to urban landscapes has meant an increase in impervious or hard surfaces that cause rainwater to runoff of our roofs, driveways, parking lots and sidewalks and into our streams, rivers, lakes and bays.

Stormwater runoff threatens water bodies in many ways. As land use in Baldwin County becomes increasingly urban, increases in the volume and velocity of stormwater runoff causes streambank erosion. Stormwater runoff is also the primary vehicle for transporting sediments, excess nutrients, bacteria and other pathogens, debris, and automotive and household hazardous wastes into Baldwin County streams, rivers, and bays untreated.

Baldwin County’s estuaries (where fresh water meets salt water) provide the economic and ecological engines that power much of Alabama’s economies. If not managed to reduce its velocity and pollutants, stormwater runoff will deteriorate the quality of water in our waterways, negatively impacting our economy, our coastal ecosystem, and most importantly our quality of life.

Throughout Baldwin County, which receives an average of 66 inches of rain annually, increases in stormwater runoff exceed existing infrastructure capacities, causing more frequent episodes of flooding, sedimentation, debris polluted waters, habitat destruction and decreasing aesthetics and property values. Local governments face increased regulatory pressure and greater demands on already limited public works budgets. Seeking a collaborative solution to an environmental challenge that does not follow geopolitical lines, Baldwin County and all fourteen of its municipalities have come together to establish a mechanism for managing stormwater runoff on a regional, or watershed scale.

Who serves on the BCWC?

The Baldwin County Watershed Coalition is made up of representatives from municipal and county representatives comprised of both staff and elected officials, representatives of local environmental organizations, state legislators, and representatives of local business and development interests. To see a full list of Committee members, click here.

EPI

Waters to the Sea: Discovering Alabama: In partnership with the Alabama Clean Water Partnership, MBNEP is dedicating staff time and funding to the production of Waters to the Sea: Discovering Alabama, the newest addition to the internationally-acclaimed Waters to the Sea multimedia series. When complete, Waters to the Sea: Discovering Alabama will engage students in learning about their watersheds through interactive learning that encourages conservation and stewardship activities. A “demo version” of the program is nearing completion, with a full-version to be completed by August 2011.

A Redfish Tale: Environmental Education Video: MBNEP has completed "A Redfish Tale", an environmental education video focused on the issue of nutrient loading in the Gulf of Mexico. Made possible with funding from the Gulf of Mexico Alliance, this film was developed by MBNEP with a team of local environmental education experts and is produced and directed by Lynn Rabren, a two-time Emmy Award winner.

Current Initiatives

Click the links below to learn more about the programs and projects we are currently working on to restore the long-term health of the estuary.

 

D'Olive Watershed:  About the D’Olive Comprehensive Watershed Management Plan- In 2007, a study was undertaken by the Geological Survey of Alabama in partnership with the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, State Lands Division to assess the impact of land use changes in the D’Olive Creek, Tiawassee Creek, and Joe’s Branch watershed. This study determined more than two- to over 200-fold greater annual sediment loads in most of these streams when compared to natural geologic erosion rates (without human impact or alteration). In 2009, a contract was awarded to Thompson Engineering to draft a Comprehensive Watershed Management Plan for the D’Olive, Tiawassee, and Joe’s Branch watershed with a coalition of local stakeholders, the D’Olive Watershed Working Group, serving as an advisory board. When complete, the Comprehensive Watershed Management Plan will identify corrective measures necessary to reduce negative water quality impacts in this highly developed watershed.

 

Mon Louis Island  With shoreline property owners investing thousands of dollars to protect and restore a shoreline impacted by erosion not only from hurricanes like Ivan and Katrina but also from the daily impacts of ship wakes, MBNEP has secured funding to implement the first living shorelines project along multiple private properties.  The goal is to employ living shorelines technologies, including installation of wave-attenuating reef structures, to create and enhance habitat while protecting intertidal areas from the impacts of wave energy.  Other goals include shaping policy to favor environmentally friendly shoreline stabilization methods as alternatives to shoreline armoring.

 

Three Mile Creek (TMC)  Mid-twentieth century, flood control-related construction of a bypass channel on TMC between current MLK Avenue and Conception Street Road in the City of Mobile diverted flow from the meandering, historic stream segment, subsequently rendering a 1,800-ft section non-navigable and stagnant by siltation.  A 2008 U. S. Army Corps of Engineers Section 1135 Environmental Assessment recommended restoring flow into that stream segment by excavating sediment and removing woody debris.  After discussions with local contractors and regulatory agency personnel, both the costs and the negative environmental impacts to the surrounding woody wetlands associated with conventional bucket excavation presented obstacles to implementation.  However, spray dredging and thin layer disposal, technologies increasingly utilized to enhance subsiding marsh areas, provide a solution to this problem.  Sediment dredged from the creek bottom to restore natural conditions and dimensions can be sprayed in a thin layer over surrounding woody wetlands, mimicking the effects of regular deltaic flooding and enhancing existing plant communities without disrupting hydrology.

 

Eight Mile Creek  With a Watershed Management Plan for Eight Mile Creek recently completed, MBNEP and partners that include the City of Prichard, Auburn University, and Prichard Environmental Restoration Keepers (PERK) are restoring a degraded stream that borders Jackson Reading Park in Whistler.  Auburn University is providing engineering design and landscape guidance; the City of Prichard is providing equipment and labor for invasive species removal, excavation, and grading; and PERK is leading community involvement and cleanup efforts.

 

Local Restoration Partnerships  In 2010, MBNEP initiated the Local Restoration Partnership Program, providing grants to local public government entities  to undertake projects that address wetlands restoration, stormwater Runoff, or sediment management measures.  

The Management Conference

The Mobile Bay National Estuary Program (MBNEP) is governed by a “Management Conference”. This is the major component of all National Estuary Programs. The function of the Management Conference is to develop a Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (CCMP) and then to implement its goals and objectives. The CCMP addresses issues toward the wise stewardship of the water quality and living resources of the Mobile Bay and Delta estuarine system. The Management Conference is not a one-time meeting but an ongoing effort of activities involving a team of volunteers and a forum for open discussion, cooperation, and consensus on area environmental issues.

During the summer of 2005, MBNEP initiated a strategic planning process that included an assessment and subsequent reorganization of the Management Conference. The structure was revised to better maintain a mix of Policy Makers (both public and private), Implementers (both public and private), and Grassroots (community groups and citizens) to ensure expanding support for CCMP implementation and identification and engagement of emerging issues related to CCMP objectives. The Mobile Bay NEP Management Conference (click to view a schematic diagram) consists of four main committees: Community Action Committee, Community Resources Committee, Government Networks Committee, and Project Implementation Committee.

The Community Action Committee is comprised by representatives of environmental grassroots organizations who work together to network, share information, develop issues, and provide cooperative training.

The Community Resources Committee brings together a balance of interested community leaders from industry, business, environmental services, and the non-profit sector to identify commonalities among sectors to resolve coastal issues that impact their interests.

The Government Networks Committee is made up of state agency heads, regional government administrators, and local officials of the target area to more effectively communicate local needs.

The Project Implementation Committee includes representatives of resource management agencies and organizations to undertake projects related to CCMP objectives and goals.

A Science Advisory Committee includes experts from the various scientific disciplines who provide insights used by the other committees in their decision-making processes. An Executive Committee made up of representatives from each of the four main committees, an EPA Region IV representative, a representative from the Science Advisory Committee, and a minimum of three at-large members develops policies on issues and funding, reviews/approves work plans and budgets, evaluates the performance of the Director, and sets financial goals for non-federal share. The Management Conference is supported by a small program office staff that works closely with committee members in implementing initiatives relating to the CCMP and coordinating estuary projects and outreach activities.

In summary, the MBNEP Management Conference is composed of representatives of local, state, and federal governmental agencies, representatives of all resource management organizations, and a wide variety of interested citizens and community stakeholders interested in protecting and conserving the living resource and habitat base of the Mobile Bay estuary. It sets direction for the MBNEP as well as the routine operation of the Program office and coordinates cooperation with other resource management activities to avoid unnecessary duplication.

Education & Public Involvement

The Mobile Bay NEP exists as a collaboration of all “stakeholders” – including you! Our mission is to promote and maintain wise stewardship of Mobile Bay and the Delta. Since that mission is to protect the Bay’s contribution to the quality of our lives, we all share a stake in it.

The more informed we are about the issues that affect the bay’s health and future, the better prepared we are to make the right management decisions about long-term protection strategies. The process involves the acquisition and communication of information and culminates in involvement. Public education and support are critical to the success of the Mobile Bay National Estuary Program and the health of the estuary.

Implementation of the actions of the Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (CCMP) depend upon the stakeholders. We are all part of the solution. The goal of a healthy, sustainable estuary depends upon informed and involved citizens of Mobile and Baldwin Counties.

CCMP Activities Related to Education & Public Involvement

EPI-A1 Enhance Public Education and Outreach
EPI-B1 Develop Comprehensive Citizen Monitoring and Reporting Programs

Human Uses

In developing the Comprehensive Conservation Management Plan (CCMP), the Management Conference of the MBNEP recognized early on that the management of natural resources is ultimately the management of human behaviors with respect to those resources. Their objective was to provide consistent, enforceable, regional land and water use management that ensures smart growth for sustainable development and decreases the negative impacts of growth-related activities on human health and safety, public access, and quality of life. To fulfill that objective, the CCMP addresses sustainable land use planning, reduction or mitigation of harmful impacts caused by hydrologic modification, and increasing public access to water resources.

Sustainable land use planning epitomizes the National Estuary Program process, in that it necessarily balances economic impacts important to all user groups with conservation of water quality and living resources and habitats. As tourism, industrial development, residential development, and recreation continue to grow, it becomes increasingly important to manage growth to minimize environmental impact and promote sustainability. Planning should include efforts to curb urban sprawl, promote wise land use, encourage re-development of existing structures, educate citizens, and coordinate all levels of government with regards to sustainable land use.

Several examples of past land and resource practices within the Mobile Bay Estuary have either fallen short of expectations or caused more harm than good through hydrologic modification. The “poster child” for this phenomenon is the Mobile Bay Causeway. Built in the late 1920s as a route across the bay necessary to sustain envisioned growth, it formed an unintended barrier between Mobile Bay and the Mobile-Tensaw River Delta. Significant evidence suggests that the Causeway continues to negatively impact the water quality of the Mobile Bay Estuary by altering salinity, nutrient, and sedimentation regimes. Dredging practices and flooding/ storm water runoff resulting from increased impervious surface area are other examples of potentially negative hydrologic modification.

As the coastline has been developed, access to water resources has become insufficient to support the growing population. Without access to water resources, the public sense of ownership or connectivity to them is lost, along with a willingness to expend tax dollars towards beach restoration or maintenance. The process of managing a sustainable estuary depends upon a concerned and involved public.

CCMP Activities Related to Human Uses

Contact the MBNEP Office for copies of these documents

HU-A1 Develop and Implement Comprehensive Land Use Planning
HU-B1 Assess Hydrologic Effects of Development Practices
HU-B2 Restore Natural Hydrologic Conditions
HU-B3 Improve Control of Erosion and Sedimentation
HU-C1 Increase Public Access and Eco-Tourism Opportunities

Habitat Mangement

The qualities that attract us to the Mobile Bay area are largely related to the wide range of habitats found in such a relatively small area. Soft sediments, sea grass beds, barrier island dune and
inter-dune wetland swales, fresh and saltwater marshes, pitcher plant bogs, bottomland hardwood forests, wet pine savannas, and upland pine-oak forests are all found within the Mobile Bay NEP study area. It is this wealth of habitat that has contributed to the biodiversity that distinguishes our region and draws residents and visitors to the coast.

While some natural sources are responsible for alterations to habitat, fragmentation and loss of natural habitats are largely consequences of population growth, land use conversion, shoreline hardening, and run off issues. Just as the natural ecosystem around us is complex and interdependent, so are the social and economic issues related to the use of our surroundings. A primary goal of the MBNEP is to minimize our impact on the habitats around us while also maintaining our quality of life. We can only accomplish this by first understanding the consequences of our actions and then planning to minimize our impact on natural habitats or restoring or rehabilitating those that have been previously altered.

CCMP Activities Related to Habitat Management

Contact the MBNEP Office for copies of these documents

HM-A1 Develop a Coastal Habitats Coordinating Team
HM-B1 Protect or Restore SAV Habitat
HM-C1 Maintain and/or Improve Beneficial Wetland Function
HM-D1 Assess Beach and Dune Habitat Loss
HM-D2 Regional Sediment Management (previously “Determine Impacts on Dredging on Coastal Habitats”
HM-D3 Address Shoreline Erosion
HM-E1 Prevent Nesting Habitat Decline

Living Resources

The Mobile Bay NEP area contains four broad natural eco systems – terrestrial, freshwater, estuarine, and marine/continental shelf – which support an extremely diverse assemblage of plants and animals. This “biodiversity” – the number of distinct species in a given area – contributes to Alabama’s status as second only to Florida among U. S. states in terms of plant and animal species per unit area. The primary concerns of the MBNEP include understanding the history, habitat requirements, life cycles, strengths and weaknesses of endemic flora and fauna; the problems associated with the introduction of exotic species; and the health of commercial and recreational fisheries.

Increasing our knowledge of the status and trends of estuarine populations is important, but challenging. Our knowledge about any given species seems directly proportionate to both the physical size of the species and its perceived economic importance. For most species little can be said about population status and trends, but still over 100 species in the MBNEP study area have been identified to be in decline or in need of protection. While some species are naturally rare, others become rare, at least in part, because of habitat loss and fragmentation, pollution, and overharvest. We must determine why certain species become rare and develop management strategies to minimize species loss.

A negative side effect of our diversity and wealth of habitat is that some exotic species – usually introduced through some human activity – become too at home in the Bay area. While most introduced species are fairly harmless with only minor impacts on the ecosystem, others go unchecked, having no natural predators to control their population growth, and out-compete native populations without contributing in all of the roles of the native species. Some exotic species are particularly detrimental to existing ecosystems and hydrology.

With regard to commercial and recreational fisheries, there is not currently a sufficient systematic program to measure fishing efforts in Alabama. There is a generally perceived, if not real, reduction of fishery resources concurrent with an increase in fishing pressure. The effect of by catch on fish populations is not yet well understood.

CCMP Activities Related to Living Resources

Contact the MBNEP Office for copies of these documents

LR-A1 Improve Monitoring of Key Living Resources
LR-A2 Improve Monitoring of Act Risk Species
LR-B1 Develop Management Plan for Nuisance Species
LR-C2 Increase Fisheries Resources
LR-C3 Manage Recreational and Commercial Fishing Effort

Water Quality

The term “water quality” involves a broad range of issues important to the living resources and human uses of bays or estuaries and surrounding areas. These include, but are not limited to, physical properties such as water clarity, temperature, depth, sediment load, and hydrology; chemical properties such as salinity, dissolved oxygen levels, nutrient levels, and concentrations of organic chemicals, metals, and other toxins; and biological properties, including all life forms present in the water, including bacteria, plankton, aquatic vegetation, benthic invertebrates, amphibians, and fish. If any single property becomes impaired, water quality can diminish.

Mobile Bay’s water quality is highly influenced by its natural geographic location, weather patterns of the watershed, and human uses. The Mobile Bay watershed, or drainage system, includes over two-thirds of Alabama and portions of Georgia, Tennessee, and Mississippi, making it the nation’s sixth largest in area and fourth largest in discharge volume. As a result, urban and agricultural development in the Bay’s surrounding areas as well as those far outside the coastal region impact its water quality characteristics.

Due to the large discharge volume of freshwater inputs entering Mobile Bay, approximately 4.7 million metric tons of sediment is deposited into the Bay annually. This material has a high percentage of silt and clay, which can create a variety of environmental problems. Mobile Bay also receives more that 42,000 tons of nitrogen each year and nutrient over-enrichment can lead to depletion of oxygen levels. Pollution introduced through defined point sources or non-point source discharge via storm water run-off threatens the quality of Bay waters.

There are many examples of water quality issues that should concern us, including the few mentioned here. We have posted a comprehensive list of water bodies in the MBNEP study area listed as impaired on the Alabama 303(d) List since 1992. If you would like to become involved in efforts to improve water quality, please call our office, (251) 431-6409 or email us.

CCMP Activities Related to Water Quality

Contact the MBNEP Office for copies of these documents

WQ-A1 Assess Data to Identify Water Quality Problems
WQ-A2 Incorporate Loading Information Into Non-Pollutant Discharge Elimination System
WQ-A3 Maintain Groundwater Quality
WQ-A4 Ensure Protection and Maintenance of High Quality Waters
WQ-B1 Reduce Excessive Nutrient Loading Within MBNEP Area
WQ-B2 Address Upstream Nutrient and Sediment Inputs
WQ-C1 Reduce Opportunities for Pathogen Introduction
WQ-D1 Assess Problems Related to Sediment Quality
WQ-D2 Provide for Safe Disposal of Hazardous Waste

Program Overview: The CCMP

Each of the 28 National Estuary Programs (NEPs) is charged with the development and implementation of a Comprehensive Conservation Management Plan, or CCMP, which serves as a blueprint for maintaining and improving the waters of that particular estuary. The NEP process begins with convention of a Management Conference, made up of a broad cross-section of stakeholders representing the various user groups who work to assess current threats to the estuary. While finding consensus among individuals, organizations, businesses, or agencies with potentially conflicting interests in an estuary is challenging, consensus is the only way to effectively develop a long-range management strategy for the estuary.

The Management Conference first identified five priority issue areas that would become the focus of the NEP’s efforts – Water Quality, Living Resources, Habitat Management, Human Uses, and Education & Public Involvement. Then they solicited independent characterization studies to assess the status and trends of key environmental “indicators” and to provide recommendations regarding issues to be addressed by the NEP. Based upon the characterization studies and community input, issue workgroups began compiling specific actions for improving the Mobile Bay Estuary. These action items evolved to become the essence of the CCMP.

The CCMP is not a static document. Most characterization studies have indicated that existing data is incomplete or inadequate to fully assess the scope of environmental problems in the estuary, so the characterization process is necessarily on-going. As actions are implemented or completed, emerging issues are identified and addressed, and actions subsequently are modified or added to the CCMP Priorities. An NEP serves as an umbrella organization to pull together key stakeholders who will guide the development and implementation of its consensus-based CCMP.

Volume I – A Call to Action
Volume II – The Path to Success
Volume III – Working Together - contact the NEP office to receive a copy

Our Staff

Content Dynamically Generated - Not Handled by Structure.  Edit Child Pages.

Our Partners

Content Dynamically Generated - Not Handled by Structure.  Edit Child Pages.

Our History

Recognizing the importance of the Mobile Bay Estuary and the threats posed to its health by local growth and development, a team of investigators, led by the South Alabama Regional Planning Commission, developed a nomination package for Mobile Bay’s inclusion in the National Estuary Program. Alabama Governor Fob James, Jr. then submitted the nomination package for consideration by the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in March, 1995. In September of the same year, EPA Administrator Carol Browner, having concurred with the justification provided within the nomination package, convened a Management Conference, and the Mobile Bay National Estuary Program (MBNEP) was created.

Administered through and funded by the EPA under provisions of the Clean Water Act (CWA) of 1987, the initial task for the MBNEP was the development of a Comprehensive Conservation Management Plan (CCMP) as a blueprint for conserving the estuary. Through the efforts of literally hundreds of participants and thousands of hours of volunteer time, our CCMP received final approval on April 22, 2002. Since that time, MBNEP has worked diligently to implement this plan and respond to emerging environmental challenges. All of the 28 NEPs recognized across the country under the CWA are similarly guided by their own CCMPs.

The mission of the MBNEP is to promote wise stewardship of the water quality characteristics and living resource base of the Mobile Bay estuarine system. We are a non-regulatory program, so we implement the CCMP by bringing together citizens; local, state, and federal government agencies; businesses and industries; conservation and environmental organizations; and academic institutions to meet the environmental challenges that face the unique and imperiled resources that characterize our coastal estuaries. We engage these groups in determining how to best treat the Bay, our associated coastal waters, and their surrounding watersheds to ensure their protection and conservation for our lifetimes and beyond.

What’s an Estuary?

Estuary (ĕs’chū-ĕr’ē) – a partially enclosed coastal body of water, having an open connection with the ocean, where freshwater from inland is mixed with saltwater from the sea. Estuaries represent some of the most sensitive and ecologically important habitats on earth. They provide sanctuary for many species of waterfowl, store nutrients for larval and juvenile marine life, and serve as breeding grounds for many desirable species of ocean fish. Since estuaries commonly provide excellent harbors, most of the large ports in the United States (New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Mobile, Galveston, Seattle, and San Francisco) are located in estuaries. However, the development of high-density population centers causes deleterious effects that can destroy the very properties of the estuary that made development of the region possible. Human impact on estuaries includes reclamation of tidal land by filling; pollution from sewage, solid waste, industrial effluent, and hot water; increased sedimentation filling the estuary; and alteration of the salinity of estuarine waters by withdrawal or increased influx of freshwater.

Contact

Not Managed with Structure.

Get Involved

There are many ways to get involved and become a better steward of our coastal assets.   

Get Educated- Attend workshops, seminars, symposiums and conferences that address coastal environmental issues.

Get Involved- Become aware of what your local government is doing to promote responsible development practices, manage storm-water runoff, and conserve fragile habitats. Offer your services on environmental boards or committees.

Get Vocal- Comment responsibly on environmental impact statements, draft and final restoration plans, community development plans and other documents that impact the environment.

Get Motivated- Join in the many volunteer efforts to clean up, monitor, and replant areas of the estuary. Seek opportunities to serve your community.

Get to know US- Become familiar with the Mobile Bay National Estuary Program and support it financially, as advocates, and as volunteers.

Donate to the Coastal Estuary Restoration Fund!

Make sure to designate your donation to the Coastal Estuary Restoration Fund.

Video Gallery

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Nunc dui eros, ornare ut semper gravida, cursus quis nibh. Curabitur et dui vel sapien tempus interdum vitae auctor dui. Integer elementum nunc a ante faucibus nec sollicitudin turpis ullamcorper. Cum sociis natoque penatibus et magnis dis parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus. Sed ac nisi id orci pulvinar tincidunt eu nec orci. In hac habitasse platea dictumst. Proin lobortis bibendum augue in sollicitudin. Sed eleifend magna sit amet nulla ullamcorper pretium. Sed vel enim a est euismod cursus. Ut vel ipsum a ante malesuada egestas in in orci. Cras sodales malesuada aliquet. Sed libero urna, consectetur varius rutrum quis, tempus ac metus. Nunc sapien risus, volutpat sed mollis id, suscipit quis sem.

Library

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Nunc dui eros, ornare ut semper gravida, cursus quis nibh. Curabitur et dui vel sapien tempus interdum vitae auctor dui. Integer elementum nunc a ante faucibus nec sollicitudin turpis ullamcorper. Cum sociis natoque penatibus et magnis dis parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus. Sed ac nisi id orci pulvinar tincidunt eu nec orci. In hac habitasse platea dictumst. Proin lobortis bibendum augue in sollicitudin. Sed eleifend magna sit amet nulla ullamcorper pretium. Sed vel enim a est euismod cursus. Ut vel ipsum a ante malesuada egestas in in orci. Cras sodales malesuada aliquet. Sed libero urna, consectetur varius rutrum quis, tempus ac metus. Nunc sapien risus, volutpat sed mollis id, suscipit quis sem.

Events

Not Managed by Structure