Places We Protect

Lower Perdido Islands

Alabama

A large white bird with black wing tips and a red face, flying through a blueish gray sky.
White Ibis White ibis in flight. © Amber Allen/TNC Photo Contest 2019

Private and public partners are working together to keep the Perdido Islands the important and special place they are for people and nature.

Lower Perdido Islands
Lower Perdido Islands A map showing proposed restoration strategies for the Lower Perdido Islands.

Tell Us What You Think

We're developing a Management Plan, preparing restoration ideas and coordinating outreach. Explore what’s happening in the Lower Perdido Islands on this page and take our short survey to tell us what you think about restoring the islands.

The Lower Perdido Islands are a group of small, undeveloped islands (Bird, Robinson, and Walker) located near Perdido Pass in Orange Beach, Alabama. The islands and surrounding waters have never been more popular, and it’s not surprising given the beautiful blue-green waters, easy access to sandy beaches, and unique wildlife. 

Many of the roughly 6.8 million visitors that Baldwin County hosts annually visit the islands and surrounding area. During holidays, the islands can host well over 500 boats at a single point in time and visitation numbers are ever-increasing. Their popularity has resulted in impacts to habitats and water quality in the area such as erosion from boat wakes, damage to seagrass, disturbance of nesting birds and their habitat, and increasing marine debris and human waste. 

To address these concerns, the City of Orange Beach, Moffatt & Nichol, Olsen Associates Inc., and The Nature Conservancy have teamed up to develop a management plan which proposes conservation strategies and restoration concepts to support protection of the Lower Perdido Islands and their valuable habitats for the future.

An aerial view of a sandy island densely surrounded by boats, with marinas and high rise buildings in the distance.
Bird Island Aerial image of Bird Island on the May 25, 2019 during Memorial Day weekend. © Ken Cooper/Orange Beach Community Website
An eroding white sand beach seen from the water.
Robinson Island The popularity of the Lower Perdido Islands has resulted in impacts such as erosion from boat wakes, damage to seagrass, disturbance of nesting birds and increased pollution. © Cassandra Eldridge/TNC
Bird Island Aerial image of Bird Island on the May 25, 2019 during Memorial Day weekend. © Ken Cooper/Orange Beach Community Website
Robinson Island The popularity of the Lower Perdido Islands has resulted in impacts such as erosion from boat wakes, damage to seagrass, disturbance of nesting birds and increased pollution. © Cassandra Eldridge/TNC

Conservation Strategies

Marsh, sandy shoreline, forest, and seagrass beds are all habitat types found on and adjacent to the Lower Perdido Islands. These unique habitats support a diverse array of wildlife, especially shorebirds, wading birds and waterfowl. Common birds include tricolor herons, reddish egrets, little blue herons, snowy egrets, white ibis and brown pelicans. Great blue herons, great egrets, clapper rails, willets and woodcock also forage in the marsh. Migratory waterfowl and neotropical migrants utilize the area seasonally. The seagrass beds and calm, protected waters surrounding the islands provide nursery areas for coastal finfish and shellfish such as speckled seatrout, redfish, Atlantic croaker, shrimp and blue crabs.

Balancing the protection of these habitats with the recreational usage of the islands is a major challenge. Our conservation goals are to protect and sustain the biodiversity (habitats and wildlife) of the natural communities on and around the islands, while maintaining recreational opportunities for the public. These goals require conservation strategies that focus not only on habitat protection, but also raising public awareness of current rules and regulations and the importance of the unique habitats of the Lower Perdido Islands. Some of the conservation strategies highlighted in our plan are:

  • Planting trees and shrubs for the nesting and roosting of wading birds
  • Controlling vegetation in shorebird nesting and loafing areas
  • Cordoning off areas to maintain distance between birds and humans
  • Installing signs for public awareness (seagrass, no motor, no dogs, trash, etc.)
  • Enforcing rules and regulations to protect the natural resources and for public safety

Restoration Concepts

While the conservation strategies focus on the management aspect of the islands, the concept recommendations propose restoration actions. These restoration concepts were developed by a team of ecologists and engineers to provide large-scale, sustainable options to restore and protect habitats while ensuring space for recreation. They were informed by stakeholder feedback, hydrodynamic modeling, morphological modeling, existing conditions, and project team coordination.

Now, we want your feedback! The major restoration concepts are outlined here and highlighted in the map below. What do you think? Please provide feedback by Friday, June 5th.

Restoration Concepts Key

A) Bird Island South Expansion: This area is already permitted for placement of dredged material and the sand flats could be expanded to support recreation at this popular site. 

B) Connecting Robinson and Bird Islands: Connecting the two islands could provide upland and shoreline habitats for birds and wildlife, protect existing seagrass beds to the east, and provide additional space for recreation along the western shore.

C) Robinson Island North Expansion: Filling behind the existing rock breakwater structure would restore the north end of the island and provide habitat for birds and other wildlife. 

D) Robinson Island West Expansion: Expanding the shallow west side of the island would provide sand flats for ground nesters and upland vegetated habitat for wading birds and other wildlife.

E) Robinson Island South Expansion: This area is already permitted for placement of dredged material and could support a small area for expansion of sand flats that would be popular for recreation.

F) Walker Island West Expansion: Expanding the island to the west would protect seagrass beds, reduce boat traffic, and increase shorebird habitat. This area would remain off limits to people to maximize habitat restoration benefits.

G) Walker Island East Expansion: Restoring the eastern end of the island could create valuable habitat for birds and other wildlife. This area would remain off limits to people to maximize habitat restoration benefits. 

H) Creation of a New Island: Creation of a new island northeast of Walker Island would provide valuable habitat for birds and other wildlife.  This area would remain off limits to people to maximize habitat restoration benefits.

A map showing proposed restoration strategies for the Lower Perdido Islands.
Lower Perdido Islands A map showing proposed restoration strategies for the Lower Perdido Islands.

Tell Us What You Think

Please provide your feedback on restoration concepts for the Lower Perdido Islands by Friday, June 5.