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Comprehensive review of plans, priorities and efforts for land conservation along the Gulf of Mexico coast
Proceedings of the 2019 Mississippi Water Resources Conference
Year: 2019 Authors: Linhoss A., Evans K., Samiappan S., Liu J., Roberts J., Shamaskin A., Ashby S.
This study reviews past, current, and future land conservation priorities in the Gulf of Mexico coastal region. The review catalogs an extensive list of projects and plans proposed and implemented at federal, state, county, and city levels with direct ties to land conservation during the past 20 years. Five conservation goals proposed by Gulf of Mexico Restore Council were used as a framework for grouping the identified conservation plans and projects. The goals are: 1) Restore and Conserve Habitat, 2) Restore Water Quality, 3) Replenish and Protect Living and Marine Resources, 4) Enhance Community Resilience, and 5) Restore and Revitalize the Gulf Economy. A series of five charrettes were conducted with stakeholders in the coastal states to validate the catalog and add missing projects and plans. A geospatial web tool has been developed as part of this work to allow for identification and exploration of plans in the region. This review also investigates the associations between the Restore goals and conservation priorities among states and different geographic extents. The review suggests that (across the different states, and geo-extents) there is a considerable dependence between the focus of conservation plans and the geo-extent the plan originated. This study is the first large-scale regional assessment of conservation planning efforts across governmental and non-governmental organizations encompassing all ecosystem types in the Gulf of Mexico. This comprehensive analysis at the Gulf Coast Region level is vital to understand the key factors that may drive conservation efforts, as well as identify potential gaps in conservation planning efforts. A holistic understanding of the origin of conservation plans and their relationship with respect to Restore Council conservation goals can be useful in understanding and aligning conservation planning efforts to funding opportunities associated with Restore goals.