Restoring Mathews Brake: Relying on Partners to Protect and Preserve a Mississippi Icon

The restoration of Mathews Brake National Wildlife Refuge, an iconic natural landmark in the heart of the Mississippi Delta, is now complete thanks to a unique partnership between local landowners, The Nature Conservancy, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Delta Wildlife, and critical private partners.

In late October, The Nature Conservancy in Mississippi completed the construction and installation of a large water control structure at the brake. This structure provides the ability for water management and will restore critical wetland and waterfowl habitat which had decreased by 55% due to low water conditions.

Thanks to this work refuge staff will be able to manage the brake’s wetland system for the first time in refuge history and 3,500 acres of critical wetland and wildlife habitat – and one of Mississippi’s most popular outdoor destinations – will be protected.

“Mathews Brake is truly iconic in the Mississippi Delta, in both as a critical wetland and also a true outdoor destination for so many across the state and the southeast,” said Alex Littlejohn, Associate State Director of The Nature Conservancy in Mississippi. “It seems everyone we speak to about this work has a Mathews Brake story of their own, which makes you understand why this place means so much to so many."

“It’s simply humbling to play a role in ensuring the integrity of the brake will be maintained for generations to come. However, none of this would have happened without the help from everyone that played a role (supporters) and my hat is off to all of them. It’s amazing how it all came together and I can’t say enough about the partnership that made this work possible.”

Critical to the project’s success were private partners Entergy Mississippi, the Cox Foundation, PowerTree & UtiliTree Carbon Companies, the Caterpillar Foundation, Delta Wildlife and the Walker Foundation.

“It’s hard to overstate the significance of this project,” said Scott Lemmons, director of freshwater programs for The Nature Conservancy in Mississippi. “A lot of partners stepped up to the plate to save Mathews Brake.”

Mathews Brake encompasses 3,500 acres of cypress-tupelo dominated wetland habitat, providing habitat to over 30,000 annual wintering waterfowl and representing one of the largest remaining contiguous forested wetlands in the Lower Mississippi River Valley. In 1980, 2,418 acres of the brake were purchased by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to establish the Mathews Brake National Wildlife Refuge. Attracting an estimated 35,000 visitors annually, the refuge also serves as a significant economic driver for the local economy.

Watch the Mathews Brake restoration efforts in this slideshow.

Read more about the Mathews Brake restoration in this news release.


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