On the St. Catherine Creek National Wildlife Refuge, near Natchez, Mississippi, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service planted 120,000 seedlings of mixed bottomland hardwood species on 400 acres of former soybean fields. This was the first of four phases of the project. Once the land has been restored to a hardwood forest, it will be managed for multiple-use benefits, such as habitat for the Louisiana Black Bear (endangered), the American Bald Eagle (threatened), the peregrine falcon (endangered), wintering and breeding for waterfowl and as a migrating, breeding and stopover site for neo-tropical birds. Additionally, this project will reduce the fragmentation of the existing habitat, will aid in restoring the Lower Mississippi River Ecosystem and will provide recreational activities such as bird watching and hunting. The refuge will also serve as a demonstration area to showcase that consumptive and non-consumptive benefits that can be provided by a properly managed bottomland forest are often greater than clearing for agricultural purposes.
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