Gulf of Mexico Initiative
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The Gulf of Mexico Initiative (GoMI) helps producers in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas improve water quality and ensure sustainable production of food and fiber.
Assistance helps producers apply agricultural and wildlife habitat management practices that avoid, control and trap nutrient runoff, reduce sediment transport, reduce; over-use of water and prevent saltwater from entering the habitats of many threatened and endangered species. Participants apply through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program.
GoMI Focus Areas in Florida
Middle Suwannee River Area
- Old Grassy Lake
- Allon Lake
- Blue Lake
- Pickel Lake
National fact sheet - Middle Suwannee River Area Watershed (PDF, 705 KB)
The focus area watersheds are located in north central Florida approximately halfway between the cities of Jacksonville and Tallahassee along the Middle Suwannee River in Suwannee and Lafayette counties. The Suwannee River originates in the Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia and flows through North Central Florida for 245 miles before it empties into the Gulf of Mexico.
The Middle Suwannee suffers from water quality concerns over nutrients, sediment and pathogens. The river acts as a filter for pollutants entering the Suwannee River, which ultimately enters the Gulf of Mexico.
The hydrogeology of the area is of karstic nature with closed basins, stream to sink drainage, numerous springs and an unconfined aquifer with a high degree of recharge potential overlain by sandy, well-drained soils. Major land uses are cropland, forestlands and pastureland, with cropland being dominated by row crop agriculture. This area is extremely vulnerable to ground water contamination.
In addition, the Suwannee River and its floodplain provide some of the most productive wildlife habitats in Florida. It supports at least 54 species of fish, 39 species of amphibians, 73 species of reptiles, 232 species of birds and 39 species of mammals.
Escambia River Watershed
- Canoe Creek
- Pine Barren Creek-Sandy Hollow
- Little Pine Barren Creek
National fact sheet - Alabama and Florida – Escambia River Watershed (PDF; 872 KB)
The Escambia River is a large alluvial river that flows south from Alabama through the Florida Panhandle to the Pensacola Bay Estuary and the Gulf of Mexico. The Escambia River Basin is highly productive, and serves as a nursery for commercially important shellfish and finfish, as well as a diverse array of flora and fauna.
The Basin ecosystem provides diverse habitats ranging from mature bottomland hardwood forest to pine uplands, agricultural lands, and estuarine marsh. It provides important habitat for numerous species of plants and animals, including more than 85 native freshwater fish species, candidate mussel species, and rare, threatened, and endangered species such as the brown pelican and piping plover.
The estuary also acts as a filter for pollutants, provides shoreline stabilization, and offers recreational and educational opportunities for the local population and tourists.
In recent years, the Escambia River Watershed has experienced extreme drought conditions. Problems associated with sedimentation have been exacerbated by poor flushing and large sediment loads.
Current and historic land uses have left a legacy of polluted sediments that contribute to water quality concerns because of the threats that they pose to human health, aquatic health, and decreased fish and shellfish production.
The major land uses are cropland, forestland, rangeland and pastureland. Croplands in the area are dominated by row crop agriculture. The major crops are cotton and peanuts, with corn and soybeans as minor crops.
Following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in April, 2010, the President established the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force, a joint federal-state body, to prepare an ecosystem strategy.
The strategy addresses several key areas of concern, among them stopping the loss of critical wetlands like sand barriers and beaches, reducing the flow of nutrients into Gulf waters and enhancing the resiliency of coastal communities.
NRCS’s new Gulf of Mexico Initiative (GoMI) delivers focused water quality, wetland restoration and wildlife habitat improvement projects, and target conservation in seven major river basins in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Within these river basins, NRCS and its partners are focusing on priority “hot spots” where we believe these investments will have the biggest impact on water quality and wildlife habitat.
Gulf of Mexico Initiative fact sheet (PDF)
National Gulf of Mexico Initiative website
Contact your local USDA-NRCS Service Center or
Jeffrey Woods, financial assistance programs, 352-338-9515