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NOAA Wraps Up Large Restoration of Florida’s St. Vincent Island

NOAA recently restored a large area of St. Vincent Island National Wildlife Refuge, a 12,000 acre barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico. Nearly 2,000 acres of wetland needed to be restored as a result of 45 miles of roads blocking natural tidal flow for many years.

These wetlands and the surrounding Apalachicola Bay serve as a nursery for a wide variety of fish species, including striped bass, Gulf sturgeon, tarpon, red drum, spotted seatrout, and Gulf flounder. St. Vincent Island also provides sanctuary for a number of endangered and threatened species. Loggerhead, green, and leatherback sea turtles come ashore to nest on its beaches, and wood storks stop here during their migrations.

NOAA partnered with the FishAmerica Foundation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Geological Survey, and surrounding Florida communities to map and identify restoration needs, including removal of the roads. Today, healthy swaths of wetlands stretch across areas once blocked by roads and disrupted by water diversion. Birds and fish are also returning as tidal flow returns to normal and water quality improves.

In combination with neighboring restoration efforts at Tates Hell State Forest, St. Joe Bay Buffer Preserve, and Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission’s Apalachicola Wildlife and Environmental Area, the St. Vincent Island restoration will ensure that the entire region benefits from this conservation success.