On November 21, 2019, approximately 6400 acres of historic tidal marsh in Florida‘s lower Apalachicola River Basindamaged by decades of ranching—got a new lease on life. That was when its restoration was funded with nearly $22 million by a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund.
Over the next four years, Ducks Unlimited, in cooperation with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), will work together to restore wetland structure and function to the MK Ranch in the Apalachicola River Wildlife Environmental Area. This crucial property filters and stores water flowing from upland sites to the tributaries of Lake Wimico and Apalachicola Bay.
“Ducks Unlimited is proud to help restore such an important property in Florida,” said Jamie Rader, Ducks Unlimited director of conservation programs.
“The MK Ranch and the Apalachicola River Wildlife Environmental Area are home to a huge assortment of waterfowl, fish and other wildlife. This project will bring new life to the ranch and the surrounding watershed,” he added.
This project will use 1.1 million cubic yards of soil to fill numerous ditches and remove 49.5 miles of banks.
The Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund (GEBF), administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, supports projects to remedy harm and eliminate or reduce the risk of harm to Gulf Coast natural resources affected by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
“The use of GEBF funding for legacy conservation like we are doing on the MK Ranch is something our children and grandchildren will appreciate,” said DU CEO Adam Putnam. “GEBF funding won’t last forever, but the results we achieve will.”
This grant announcement represents the seventh round of awards from the GEBF.
“For the 2019 GEBF cycle, NFWF approved the award of nearly $60 million for six new projects in Florida,” said FWC Executive Director Eric Sutton.
“The projects, including the restoration of MK Ranch, address high-priority restoration and conservation needs and focus on restoring dune habitat, wetland habitats, watershed health and avian rookery habitat. The number of awards from GEBF in Florida now stands at 39, with a total current value of nearly $223 million,” he concluded.
Photo of Apalachicola River by Matthew Godwin / National Wildlife Federation.