Mississippi River Delta

The Bottom Line

Conservation impact on 3.5 million U.S. acres; improved outcomes for 11 priority bird species.

After the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill thrust the fragile ecosystem of the Mississippi River Delta into public view, Audubon brought all its resources to bear to help rescue the birds victimized by the disaster and to support recovery efforts. More than 35,000 people contacted us to volunteer, and we put 2,500 to work helping oil-soaked pelicans and other birds and wildlife. In the spill’s aftermath, Audubon’s policy team and grassroots activists were instrumental in gaining national support for ongoing recovery work in the delta. This led to the introduction of the RESTORE Act, which has begun to disburse billions of dollars to help the restoration of the area.

Audubon had been leading the fight to protect and restore the delta for many years before the spill, through an array of innovative efforts, both science-based and legislative. Audubon’s oldest and largest preserve, Louisiana’s Paul J. Rainey Wildlife Sanctuary, has been conserved since 1924. Audubon staff made the sanctuary into the centerpiece of a unique and powerful conservation alliance with neighboring landowners. The alliance supports more than 500,000 acres of prime coastal wetlands and is pioneering new restoration strategies, including development of a new type of dredge to rebuild damaged wetlands. The effort expanded with gifts from the Walton Family Foundation, which have allowed Audubon to bring its unique capacities to bear on the entire coast in partnership with the Environmental Defense Fund and the National Wildlife Federation. 

Theory of Victory: Audubon will advance groundbreaking science, engage more supporters, and pass key state and federal legislation to change Mississippi River management to restore the delta and coast for people and birds, and improve the health of the Gulf of Mexico.

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