Healthy Coastal Ecosystems
In Alabama and Mississippi, Perdido Bay, Mobile Bay and the Mississippi Sound are important estuaries. Mobile Bay and the Pascagoula River drainage basin in the Mississippi Sound are of special concern. The Mobile Bay estuary contains more species of fish per area than any other region of North America. Of the 74 major river estuaries in North America, the Pascagoula River is the only one in the United States that remains unaffected by channel fragmentation and flow regulation. As a result, the Pascagoula River is a vital center of biodiversity and essential fish habitats for numerous threatened and endangered species.
Estuarine ecosystems, such as wetland, oyster reefs and tidal basins, physically protect coastlines, provide essential habitat and filter nutrients and other pollutants that degrade water quality and adversely affect ecosystem health. Estuaries provide critical habitat for numerous species of commercially and recreationally important waterfowl, migratory birds, marine mammals and sea turtles. The decreased area and fragmentation have led to a decline in the essential ecological benefits provided by these habitats.
MASGLP supports the work of MASGC in this area by providing legal research and outreach on laws and regulations addressing habitat restoration and ecosystem based management. Some recent projects in this area include:
Conservation Easements ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
A Citizen’s Guide to Conservation Easements
In 2007, MASGLP produced this guide intended to acquaint Alabama and Mississippi landowners with the law applicable to conservation easements in their states. Summaries of the relevant state and federal statutes and regulations are provided, along with the text of the statutes and regulations themselves.
Instream Flows –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
Opportunities for Protecting Instream Flows in Mississippi
In 2008, at the request of the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, MASGLP reviewed the legal structure of Mississippi’s water rights system, the current state of instream flow management, and opportunities for modification of the existing instream flow standards. This research also led to a law review article: Timothy Mulvaney, Instream Flows and the Public Trust, 22 TULANE ENVTL. L.J. 315 (2009).
Living Shorelines –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
Living Shorelines: State Regulations in Alabama, Mississippi and Florida
In 2007, Josh Clemons, MASGLP Research Counsel, developed an overview of living shoreline regulations in Alabama, Mississippi and Florida on behalf of MASGC.
Homeowners Guide to Permitting Living Shorelines in Mississippi and Alabama
In conjunction with a 2010 Alabama & Mississippi Living Shorelines Workshop, Niki Pace and extension agent Chris Boyd co-authored a short permitting guide for Living Shorelines in Mississippi and Alabama. More information about the Workshop, which included a regulatory panel on permitting, can be found at http://www.gulfalliancetraining.org/detail.aspx?Id=22.
Impacts of Living Shoreline Installations on Alabama Property Rights
In 2011, MASGLP answered questions from homeowners along Mon Louis Island about property rights issues related to a proposed living shorelines project by the Mobile Bay National Estuary Program.
Understanding Shoreline Property Rights in Alabama
Handout related to above advisory (in pdf form on the Mobile Bay NEP site).