Coastal Conservation

Audubon Announces Comprehensive Restoration Plan for the Gulf of Mexico

Identified projects in Florida benefit bird species and ecosystems

Least Tern Photo: Melissa Groo/Audubon Photography Awards

For Immediate Release – February 12, 2019

Contact: Sean Cooley, Communications Director, (850) 999-1030,

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – “The challenges are huge, but we have an enormous opportunity to save much of the Gulf Coast for both birds and people. We can’t afford to blow this," said David Yarnold, president and CEO of National Audubon Society (@david_yarnold) after the release of an extensive report, Audubon’s Vision: Restoring the Gulf of Mexico for Birds and People. The report highlights projects and programs critical to help the region and its wildlife recover from devastating hurricanes, oil spills, and other environmental and man-made disasters. At the center of the largest ecosystem restoration effort ever attempted, Audubon is recommending an investment of more than $1.7 billion in restoration and conservation efforts for the Gulf of Mexico.

Audubon Florida, the state office of the National Audubon Society, identified critical priorities in the Sunshine State to confront challenges including a changing climate, sea level rise, and harmful algal blooms. According to Julie Wraithmell, executive director of Audubon Florida, “Florida isn’t only a hotspot for human visitors. Millions of coastal birds depend on our coasts as nesting grounds and stopover sites as they migrate. Restoring and acquiring the places in this plan will provide refuge to rare and imperiled bird species while mitigating for the impacts of a changing climate.”

The BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill of 2010, which resulted in a global settlement of $20.8 billion in claims and cleanup efforts, left a devastating mark on the Gulf Coast. Audubon recommends 16 state-based, 10 region-wide and four open ocean projects, which together total more than 136,000 acres of restored or protected habitat for bird and human communities from south Texas to the Florida Keys.

In Florida, the Richard T. Paul Alafia Bank Sanctuary—managed by Audubon for its owners, Mosaic Company and Port Tampa Bay—is already responding to early restoration efforts. Erosion control structures protected the nesting trees of rare wading birds and pelicans during the 2018 hurricane season. This is one of the most important coastal bird nesting sites in the Sunshine State—and in the years since the Deepwater Horizon disaster, has supported several of the birds rehabilitated and released back into the wild after that tragedy.

“Never before has this amount of funding been dedicated to ecosystem restoration, therefore, we have an unprecedented opportunity to help the Gulf recover,” said director of Gulf Coast restoration at National Audubon Society, Kara Lankford. “Wildlife and people living along the coast are dependent on millions of acres of habitat that are at extreme risk unless we act boldly.”

Audubon’s Vision: Restoring the Gulf of Mexico for Birds and People identifies 8.1 million acres of highly suitable habitat across the Gulf for Audubon’s flagship species. The report highlights 30 projects that will collectively address the recovery and population health of these birds as Audubon continues to determine how sea level rise will affect the Gulf and identify ways to better support these species.

With deep roots and a sustained presence on the Gulf, Audubon is committed to working to secure a brighter future for the bird and human communities of this vital region. Implementing priority projects and programs focusing on restoration, conservation, research and stewardship, the National Audubon Society addresses the recovery and population health of the 11 flagship species. For a full project list and details or to learn more and get involved, visit


About Audubon: The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow, throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education and on-the-ground conservation. Audubon's state programs, nature centers, chapters and partners have an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire and unite diverse communities in conservation action. Since 1905, Audubon's vision has been a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Audubon is a nonprofit conservation organization. Learn more how to help at and follow us on Twitter and Instagram at @audubonsociety.

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