MSU Extension awarded $6.6M grant for coastal restoration work

Mississippi State University has been awarded a grant of nearly $6.6 million for shoreline restoration work on the Gulf Coast.

Eric Sparks, director of the MSU Coastal Marine Extension Program, and a team from MSU Extension, Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, The Nature Conservancy, Harte Research Institute, Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant and the PEW Charitable Trusts received the grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Federation. Their project, “Living Shoreline Restoration in Back Bay to Enhance Community and Military Resilience,” was approved through the NFWF National Coastal Resilience Fund.

MSU Extension and partners will match the remaining $861,100 of the $7.4 million project.

The project involves the construction of a 2.5-mile living shoreline using marsh sill, fill, native planting and segmented breakwaters in the Back Bay in Biloxi. This area includes the shorelines of Keesler Air Force Base, the Veterans Administration facility and Hiller Park. The primary goal of the project is to restore habitat and reduce wave energy and erosion.

Living shorelines are a shoreline protection strategy that incorporates natural materials, such as wetland plants, to reduce erosion and enhance or restore shoreline habitat. The natural portions of these projects can adapt to changes, such as sea level rise and storms, while creating habitat, improving water quality and providing other benefits.

The fund, which includes contributions from federal and private sector partners, allocated more than $136 million through 88 conservation project grants nationwide.

Sparks is based in the Coastal Research and Extension Center in Biloxi.

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at

Nathan Gregory | MSU Extension Service

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