Restoring Hydrologic Connectivity to the Gulf of Mexico Through Removal of Debris in the Lower Pearl River Basin

Logs and debris blocking a river.
The Pearl River log jam traps thousands of pounds of debris (Photo Credit: USFW)

This project will combine efforts to remove man-made debris from the Pearl River to restore hydrologic functions to the river, provide fish passage to the endangered Gulf Sturgeon and other anadromous species, and restore freshwater flow downstream.

Type of Project: Community-based Marine Debris Removal Grant

Region: Gulf of Mexico

Project Dates: August 2018 - July 2021

Who is involved?
The Southeast Aquatic Resources Partnership (SARP) and Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (SEAFWA) with the support of a NOAA MDP Community-based Marine Debris Removal Grant will facilitate the removal of man-made debris from a large log jam in the Pearl River just below Pool’s Bluff, a natural boundary  between the states of Mississippi and Louisiana. SEAFWA and SARP are partnering with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Aquatic Habitat Restoration Team, Bogue Chitto National Wildlife Reserve, Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Pearl Riverkeeper, and International Paper (Bogalusa Mill).

What is the project and why is it important?
The Pearl River debris removal project will restore hydrologic functions to the Pearl River basin. The removal of man-made and woody debris will help restore the river by improving connectivity, thereby allowing for fish passage and normal river flow. These actions will have direct benefits to important anadromous species that travel upstream to critical habitat and to Essential Fish Habitat downstream by restoring natural estuarine dynamics. This debris removal is a collaborative effort bringing together multiple federal, state, and local agencies, NGOs, corporations, and local communities interested in restoring and protecting the Pearl River. It is estimated that over 5,000 pounds of man-made debris will be removed and over 100 volunteers will be involved in streamside clean-up efforts.

The long-term objective of this project is to reconnect the Pearl River with the Gulf of Mexico and restore a free flowing river system unimpeded by man-made debris, and man-made barriers. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is investigating the feasibility of removing decommissioned locks and sills and this debris removal is one step toward reconnecting the Pearl River and providing anadromous fish (e.g. Gulf Sturgeon) access to upstream habitat.