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Regional Planning Commission
presents . . .
Mobile-Tensaw River Delta
National park Service, Stewardship and Partnership Programs
75 Spring St. S.W. Room 1020
Atlanta, GA 30303
SITE NAME: Mobile-Tensaw River Bottomlands
NARRATIVE DESCRIPTION: A 185,000 acre wetland ecosystem dominated by deeply flooded swamp forest and seasonally flooded bottomland hardwoods, originating near the confluence of the Alabama and Tombigbee rivers extending southward for about 35 miles to the head of Mobile Bay. The delta is characterized by a large number of distributary rivers, streams, bayous, and creeks which form a maze of waterways.
DATE SITE SUBMITTED:
DATE WHEN INFORMATION LAST UPDATED:
LOCATION: Alabama; Baldwin, Mobile, and Washington counties.
BOUNDARIES: The delta extends from the confluence of the Tombigbee and Alabama rivers to the delta front deposits near U.S. Highway 90 Causeway and Interstate 10 Bayway. The delta opens into the northern end of Mobile Bay through Mobile, Tensaw, Apalachee, and Blakley rivers
RELATIVE SIZE: 20,323 acres of open waters, 10,430 acres of fresh/mixed marsh, 69,348 acres of swamp, 84,839 acres of mixed bottomlands forests.
AREA OF INFLUENCE:
ECOLOGICAL AND CULTURAL SIGNIFICANCE
HABITAT TYPE: Mesic flood plains, cypress-gum swamps, tidal brackish water marshes, bottomland forests, submersed grassbeds.
BREEDING/NURSERY AREA: 90% of the resident birds in Eastern North America use bottomlands at one time or another. Over 300 species of birds have been recorded form the Mobile-Tensaw River Delta, including at least 110 species which nest.
ECOSYSTEM FUNCTION: The delta and adjacent Mobile Bay Estuary comprise one of the largest wetland ecosystems in the United States and the entire range of a globally imperiled (G1) animal?? The yearly flooding cycle and the accompanying exchange between the river and its flood plain maintains a rich, productive ecosystem which supports abundant wildlife populations, enhance water quality, and provides nutrients for downstream estuaries. The forested wetlands and delta are one of the most productive wildlife habitats in the Untied States. These important forested wetlands also provide major wintering grounds for managed species of water fowl.r migratory species as well as habitat for resident endangered species.
UNIQUESNESS OF NATURAL COMMUNITY:This site is one of the most extensive and significant wetlands in the United States. The many different habitat types, ranging from mesic flood plain forest, and fresh water swamps to open, brackish marshes, support a great variety of wildlife and plant species, including several rare and endangered species. The delta is a very complex ecosystem which encompasses a rich, productive natural area, as well as extensive and diverse wildlife and fishing habitats. This site represents one of Alabama's most naturally preserved areas and because of its uniqueness has been placed on the National Register of Natural Landmarks.
ARCHAEOLOGICAL AND CULTURAL SIGNIFICANCE:
CURRENT AND POTENTIAL USE OF SITE
EXISTING OR POTENTIAL EDUCATIONAL USE: The size and limited access of the delta have enabled the area to maintain its natural integrity. The potential educational and research use for this area is boundless.
RECREATIONAL USE: Extensive hunting, fishing, boating, kayaking, canoeing, and bird watching
COMMERCIAL USE: Heavy industry is spreading north along the Mobile River, commercial timber harvest operations occur at various locations, and Oil/gas extraction/exploration are the major commercial uses of the area.
PRIVATE USE: Residential development and timber harvesting.
EXISTING DESIGNATIONS: 20,009 acres protected by the Army Corp of Engineers in connection with the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway Wildlife Mitigation Project.
EXISTING MONITORING ACTIVITIES:
MANAGEMENT NEEDS: The delta is not completely understood in terms of its vulnerability to urban stress. During the coming years, it is anticipated that this stress will become more intense with the expected growth of the area. In view of the potential for increased activity in the delta associated with the completion of the Tennessee-Tombigbee waterway, the need for properly managing this area through reasonable safeguards will become more acute. Therefore, research and monitoring are imperative for the protection of this Natural Historic Landmark.
THREATS TO ECOLOGICAL INTEGRITY: Cumulative impacts from continued agricultural, residential, commercial, and industrial development and expanded oil and gas activities surrounding the site are affecting this landmark. Pollution form point and non-point sources, including transportation, construction, chemical, and industrial activities, may be bounding in the fine sediments. For example, oysters in Mobile Bay are known to contain concentrations of heavy metals.
SOURCES OF INFORMATION:
CITE SUPPORTING LITERATURE, MAPS, OR FIELD DATA for above information: (DISL, GSA, EPA, USF&WS, and numerous universities and colleges.)
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