Contact person: Meg Henderson
STARKVILLE, Mississippi—Mississippi State University accepts a national award for its partnership in a large-scale sustainability project.
Kristine Evans, assistant professor in the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture at MSU, led a team of MSU faculty and partner agencies in a multi-year project of study units on Cooperative Ecosystems entitled “Strategic Assessment of Gulf Coast Landscape Conservation”. The work won this year’s CESU Network Award in the project category.
The $1.7 million project, one of the first funded by the Federal Restoration Council to meet spending Deepwater Horizon funds for restoration efforts, has created a web-based tool to determine where and how best to spend funds to restore and enhance healthy coastal ecosystems. The tool helps planners understand existing conservation priorities, assess the ecological and socio-economic benefits of proposals, and prioritize land conservation areas in the region.
“The Gulf Coast is one of the most important ecosystems in the United States,” Evans said. “Its waters support an important fishing industry, its marshes help clean the waters, and its shores and interior support a vast landscape of industrial pines.”
The project team includes 30 people from the Restoration Council, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and MSU faculty, staff and students from the university’s Forest and Wildlife Research Center, Station Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Center and Geosystems Research Institute.
Project managers find that the reports generated by this tool result in stronger, more informed proposals.
“For me, success is not just about creating the tools. It’s about the science we’ve provided that leads to decisions that protect and restore our ecosystems, and it’s also about the relationships we’ve built with nearly 700 stakeholders on the Gulf Coast,” said Evans.
“I am proud and happy to accept this award on behalf of our team and appreciate the US Fish and Wildlife Service for the nomination,” Evans added.
The CESU Network is a national consortium of 17 federal agencies and more than 490 non-federal partners working together to support informed management of public trust resources. Network partnerships, based at host universities, bring together scientists, resource managers, students and other conservation professionals to conduct collaborative research on natural and cultural heritage resource issues in an ecosystem context. For more information, visit www.cesu.psu.edu.
The Gulf Coast Landscape Conservation Strategic Assessment Tools are available at https://www.quest.fwrc.msstate.edu/sca-project.php.
MSU is Mississippi‘s leading university, available online at www.msstate.edu.