The five states bordering the Gulf of Mexico cover a vast amount of territory, 86 percent of which is in private hands. This adds up to 250 million acres of privately held agricultural and forested lands – a number that is impossible to ignore when attempting to improve the health of the Gulf Coast. Many private landowners are playing an integral role in the long-term recovery of the Gulf of Mexico’s watershed by restoring long-leaf pine habitats or supporting efforts to protect water quality. When and where appropriate, key parcels of coastal lands should to be purchased in order to protect them into perpetuity.