Expanded protection of national wildlife refuge benefits all of us


Nine years ago the oil that spewed from Deepwater Horizon coated our coastlines, destroying plants, animals, habitats and lives.

This year, new opportunity springs from the aftermath of that disaster with the conservation of 470 acres of critical land, water and wildlife along Alabama’s Gulf Coast. The purchase was made possible by funding from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund, established by a federal court order addressing criminal cases related to the spill.

The land, which will become part of the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge, located between Gulf Shores and Fort Morgan, will not only become a safe haven for native species, it will also be used to expand public recreational opportunities for fishing, paddling and wildlife viewing.

These types of protections and these moves to recognize the fragility of our environment and enact policy to protect it, is some of the most important work we can do as humans.

In Baldwin County, this work is pivotal to preserving many species.

Alabama is one of the most biologically diverse states in the U.S. The state ranks among the top for the number of different types of amphibians and reptiles found here as well as for the number of creatures found only within Alabama’s borders, and nowhere else on the planet.

Baldwin County is lucky to have much of that diversity within its borders. Turtles and amphibians species that call 5 Rivers home are among the most diverse in the world. The thick forests of Gulf State Park protect endangered and threatened species like the red-cockaded woodpecker and the southern hognose snake and carnivorous plants.

On our beaches the tiny Alabama beach mouse scurries and thrives. It is the only place on the planet the mouse can be found.

When federal, state and local authorities work together to ensure not just the survival of these places, but also that they are allowed to thrive and grow, we all benefit.

The new expanded territory protects shoreline, saltwater marsh, freshwater lagoons, wetlands, dunes, maritime forests and tidal creeks. These places will disappear unless humans protect them.

Talk a break from the workweek and talk a walk in silence through Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge. Hear the waters run and the birds call. Smell the crisp vegetation. Be inspired to help preserve this beauty before it is gone and be thankful our leaders made these natural resources a priority.