Mississippi: Massive Project to Drain Mississippi Flyway Wetlands Threatens 250+ Bird Species

Little Blue Herons.

The Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) recently announced an unprecedented move to resurrect the devastating Yazoo Backwater Pumps Project in Mississippi’s South Delta—an agricultural drainage project that would drain and destroy 200,000 acres of wetlands in the heart of the Mississippi Flyway.

An outdated project that was authorized by Congress in 1941, the Pumps are so environmentally destructive that in 2008 the George W. Bush administration issued a veto through the Clean Water Act to stop the project—only one of 13 vetoes ever issued.

Now the Corps is using the area’s recent flooding to spend precious time and taxpayer money to prepare a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement on the outdated boondoggle while communities continue to suffer. The Corps is refusing to consider any immediate, practical flood relief alternatives for struggling rural communities; they simply want to build the $440 million-dollar project.

Audubon Mississippi is deeply concerned about what this means for some of our nation’s richest habitat that supports more than 450 species birds and other wildlife, including 20 percent of our country’s duck populations.

Although touted to provide flood control, the Corps’ own analyses have found that under the best-case scenario, 68 percent of the area would still flood even with the Pumps in place. This conclusion supports past findings that 80 percent of the project benefits agribusiness by draining wetlands to plant crops.

“Mississippi Delta communities deserve effective, affordable flood relief that get people and property out of harm’s way using targeted measures such as elevating homes and roads,” notes Jill Mastrototaro, Audubon Mississippi’s Policy Director. “The Corps should prioritize these and other smart flood protection safeguards that already are being deployed in communities across the U.S. – not the costly, vetoed Pumps.”

Join Audubon in urging the Corps to advance prompt, effective flood risk solutions that will protect local communities and birds that depend on the Mississippi Flyway.

Learn more about the flood protection alternatives that Audubon is supporting.