May 07, 2021

The salt marsh conservation and restoration plan was approved this week and will protect 1-million acres of salt marsh along the Southeast coast

North Florida Land Trust (NFLT), along with The Pew Charitable Trusts and two dozen organizations, are pleased to report the Southeast Regional Partnership for Planning and Sustainability (SERPPAS) has agreed to develop a comprehensive plan to conserve and restore salt marsh along the South Atlantic coast. SERPPAS, a six-state partnership that includes members of the U.S. Department of Defense and other federal and state agencies, agreed to move forward with the creation of the plan to protect 1-million acres of salt marshes along the Southeast coastline from Northeast Florida to North Carolina.

Tidal wetlands are facing threats from rising seas, polluted runoff and poorly planned development. The plan will help protect and restore the salt marshes which are important habitats for fish, birds and other animals. They support fishing, tourism and other businesses vital to coastal economies. They also protect coastlines from flooding, erosion, and storm surge and serve as the first line of defense for many coastal communities including military installations. There are about a dozen military bases and training grounds along or close to the Southeast coastline. 

The Pew Charitable Trusts brought together 24 organizations that have an interest in protecting these important habitats including conservation groups like NFLT, and those that represent fishing, birding, hunting, boating and public policy interests, to urge SERPPAS to approve the initiative.

“The work now is to pull together all of those folks into a regional working group and steering committee, organize ourselves and then set to work developing a draft plan, which we expect to have done by sometime around the summer of 2022,” said Cameron Jaggard, principal associate with Pew’s Conserving Marine Life in the U.S. program.

“We look forward to contributing to the development of this plan to protect these extremely important habitats,” said Jim McCarthy, president of NFLT. “We have protected more than 4,000 acres of salt marshes which provide essential ecosystem benefits like protection against flooding and storm surge. Working together with SERPPAS will help to ensure these natural spaces will be there to protect us into the future.”

SERPPAS promotes collaboration to make resource-use decisions that support national defense, conservation of natural resources and working lands and communities in the Southeast.

About North Florida Land Trust

North Florida Land Trust is a not-for-profit organization that seeks to protect the natural resources, historic places and working lands (farms and ranches) throughout north Florida. Founded in 1999, NFLT has preserved tens of thousands of acres of land through donation or purchase of land as well as conservation easements.  NFLT is funded largely by private and corporate contributions and works closely with willing landowners and public agencies at all levels of government, not-for-profit partners, and foundations.