The Gulf of Mexico Watershed is important to the vitality of the U.S. natural and economic resources. The watershed has dominated and dominates most of the U.S. covering 31 of its 50 states, making the Gulf very important to the U.S. economy, watersheds from 33 of 48 contiguous states drain into the Gulf of Mexico (Gulf of Mexico Region, n.d., para. 2). The vast Watershed provides rich soil to supply the nation, and oil and gas to power the nation. The region is one of the most productive areas for natural resources for the entire United States. 90% of the oil production takes place in the Gulf of Mexico providing billions of dollars to the economy of the U.S. and it has 2 of the largest ports in the world, these 2 being in Houston and New Orleans (Gulf of Mexico Region, n.d., para 5). The Gulf of Mexico Watershed is affected by population growth and industrialization because it causes a severe stress on the natural resources, winter habitats are threatened by industrial and urban expansion, commercial and residential development has reduced the available habitat in the Gulf.
Population growth is a very serious problem that has been going on in the Gulf of Mexico since 1970, the population in the 141 watersheds counties of the gulf coast region has increased by 109% since 1970, while the total U.S. population increased by a 52% ("Highlighting", 2011, para. 4). The economic benefits that the gulf has causes population growth and it creates a severe stress on the natural resources that provide a great boost for the region of the gulf and that causes agricultural cultivation to fail or decrease along the areas of the watershed basins, which turns out to have a negative impact in the U.S. economy and habitats around the Gulf Watershed and is worth mentioning that 17% of the population in the gulf coast region lives below the poverty levels, while the national poverty level is 13%.
However, commercial, residential, and recreational development has reduced the available habitat across the Gulf of Mexico Watershed. For example, recreation and tourism, like recreational fishing have become important throughout the gulf, it supports the largest recreational fisheries in the nation. The increase of commercial, residential, and recreational development in the watershed had caused negative effects in the Gulf of Mexico Watershed by reducing the habitat that is available across the Watershed basin. Habitat alteration and destruction are one of the primary causes in the decline population of the Piping Plover, which is a bird that nest and feeds along the coastal regions of the gulf, but the loss of the sandy beaches and lakeshores due to recreational and commercial has reduced their habitats and the habitats for other native species along the gulf coast and the watershed basin (Texas Aquatic Habitats, n.d., p.24). Also, reservoir constructions modification of river flows has eliminated sandbar nesting habitats along the Platte and Missouri River which both rivers are tributary of the Mississippi River.
In conclusion, there are many negative impacts like habitat destruction of many species along the gulf coast and the watershed basin and population growth on the Gulf of Mexico Watershed that are depleting and destroying the resources for the species that inhabit the surrounding areas in the Gulf of Mexico Watershed.
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