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Atlantic - Along Southeast Coast, Plan to Protect 1 Million Acres of Salt Marsh Draws Broad Support

Fishermen, hunters, and others say safeguards would help nature and communities from North Carolina to Florida

Salt marshes—sinewy channels of coastal grasslands—protect coastlines from flooding, erosion, and storm surge; filter upland runoff; and serve as vital habitat for fish, birds, and other animals.

Recognizing that value to the ecosystem and coastal communities, two dozen groups in the Southeast, representing fishing, birding, hunting, boating, conservation, and public policy interests, signed a letter this month encouraging the creation of a 1 million-acre salt marsh protection plan from North Carolina to northeast Florida.

In the letter, the organizations outlined their commitment to partnering on a marsh conservation plan with a group of regional government and military officials known as the Southeast Regional Partnership for Planning and Sustainability (SERPPAS). SERPPAS includes members of the U.S. Department of Defense and other federal agencies along with state environmental and natural resource officials from across the Southeast. The organization promotes collaboration in making resource-use decisions supporting national defense, conservation of natural resources, and sustainable working lands, waters, and communities in the Southeast. About a dozen military bases and training grounds are located along or close to the Southeast coastline. SERPPAS is scheduled to decide whether to embark on a salt marsh conservation effort at its May 4 meeting.

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