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Why Save Dauphin Island (including the West End)
Coastal Marsh

The Mobile mainland coast, stretching from Cedar Point to the Alabama-Mississippi line supports the largest contiguous salt marsh habitat in the state of Alabama.

Alabama Coastal Marsh & Nature Habitat
Shown Here: The area just north of Dauphin Island
(click photo to enlarge)

For this biologically important ecosystem to thrive and maintain itself, it must be sheltered from the powerful waves of the open Gulf of Mexico. Dauphin Island has historically provided that protection.

The Katrina Cut and the continuing deterioration of the islandís West End has increased the exposure of this valuable marsh habitat, and the wildlife that resides and feeds there, to higher energy waves and resulting shoreline erosion.

The loss of the protection from a weakened and eroding Dauphin Island will be evident on the salt marshes that fringe the mainland coast.  A diminished barrier island will expose the marshes to increased wave action and the resulting effects of shoreline erosion.  A substantial loss in the acreage of salt marshes would contribute to a decline in the productivity of the Mississippi Sound and Mobile Bay.

These marshes are a vital part of the nursery grounds, providing the base of the food web upon which essentially all of the estuarine species of the Gulf of Mexico depend.  The destruction of the coastal marshes will occur over time, gradually affecting the fishery resources. Erosion on the mainland marshes north of Dauphin Island has been occurring for some time, with Alabamaís State Lands Division investing in projects to mitigate for the losses of this important habitat.  Further weakening of Dauphin Island should be expected to accelerate the rate of erosion.

Restoring the island and filling in the Katrina Cut will help to mitigate damage to the coastal marsh.


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After the BP Oil Spill of April 2010, the Katrina Cut was closed with rocks and other material by the Army Corps of Engineers, in an effort to protect the mainland coast and the salt marshes in the Mississippi Sound from oil contamination.  An added benefit of this project was to help combat over-salination in the Sound, which had been present since the island was breached in that location by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.



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